Big Grove Solon tapping Richard! 2019 Coconut Vanilla Richard and 2020 Richard the Whale tomorrow (2/28) @ 9 a.m.!

Big Grove Brewery in Solon will be tapping a couple of heavy hitters tomorrow (Sunday 2/28) to go along with their amazing brunch menu! 2019 Coconut Vanilla Richard and 2020 Richard the Whale will find their way to the tap lines in Solon on Sunday morning! To go along with those two beers they will also be serving:
*Biscuits and gravy
*Brioche french toast with coffee custard
*Breakfast pizza

Brunch starts at 9 a.m. A perfect way to start your Sunday and finish your weekend!

Beer Baron’s Top 10 Iowa Beers of 2020!

What a year it has been! With all that is going on our local breweries still put out a ton of amazing beers and this was the toughest “Top 10” I’ve had to come up with. As the year winds down, a heartfelt thank you to all the brewery/restaurant workers out there working their butts off to get us excellent beers and delicious food while trying to keep their businesses afloat. Keep supporting local people!

List criteria:
*Beer must have been released in 2020
*Iowa brewed only
*Annual releases not counted unless a new adjunct was added to the beer

I know that I’ve missed many, my goal in 2020 was to get to as many Iowa breweries as possible and I was able to get to many that I hadn’t been before and hopefully that trend continues in 2021. After you read my list I would love to hear what your Top 10 is this year! Follow me on twitter @iabeerbaron or join the Iowa Beer page on Facebook. Cheers to you all!

*Richard the Whale Vietnamese Coconut Coffee – 12.5% – the last few years of the Richard release, the golden ticket addition has added excitement but also even more creativity from the BG brewers and crew to up the ante every year to produce an amazing beer and this year was no different. The balance between the coffee and coconut blends perfectly with barrel and the vanilla rounds it out perfectly. A truly decadent and delicious beer. To quote Virginia Madsen from “Sideways”, “You know, the day you open a Richard the Whale Vietnamese Coconut Coffee….that’s the special occasion”.

Big Grove Richard the Whale Vietnamese Coconut Coffee

*Lion Bridge Off Grid – 6.6% – there may not be a better beer to showcase the trying year many people have faced in 2020. Off Grid was brewed after the derecho storm left many in the Cedar Rapids area without power, shelter, etc. Brewing with generator power, not only did Lion Bridge get beer to us, they gave us one of the best IPAs brewed in Iowa in 2020 and I hope we get a taste of it again in 2021….minus the derecho.

Lion Bridge Off Grid

*Barn Town Nelson Sauvin Neon – 6.5% – as Barn Town’s Neon is becoming more available in Eastern Iowa, it has certainly taken its place amongst my ever revolving beer fridge as a staple. However, Barn Town decided to showcase different hops in their popular IPA and after tasting Nelson Sauvin Neon, dare I say I want more of this version? I love Nelson hops and the addition of this adds a nice peppery finish to an already delicious citrus IPA.

*Lua Algorithm – 4% ABV – trips to Des Moines in the last year certainly have been more common to get some to go beers from many of the breweries in that area and one certain stop has been Lua. Lua’s lineup of beers range from wonderful pilsners, hoppy IPAs, BA stouts, and one their extremely popular Pushpop lineup of brews! There were many that I really enjoyed but Algorithm was the one that stood out to me most. The combo of orange, mango and peaches can be enjoyed any time of the day! Lua is currently doing curbside only for the foreseeable future so make sure you place an order with them and pick up some amazing beer and food!

*Clock House Peanut Panic Porter – 5.5% – Clock House has had an amazing year with their beer releases and with the addition of a canning line they can get us our favorites more efficiently and timely. Of all the beers I’ve had of theirs this year, (I think I’ve had them all), their Peanut Panic Porter stood out. I’m a huge porter fan, Founders Porter is still one of my all-time favorite beers, and when Clock House added peanuts to this beer I was sold. Now, this isn’t a overly sweet “peanut butter” beer, this is boiled raw peanuts and some added cocoa nibs making this one of the best porters I’ve had and definitely the best peanut porter I’ve ever had. Still on tap I believe, give it a shot!

*Big Grove HDTV – 9.2% – galaxy hops gone mad! Big Grove took their popular Color TV and added a bunch more galaxy hops to it to give us this baby! A wonderful welcome addition to Richard the Whale day, HDTV is not only delicious, but it’s deceptively drinkable coming in at 9.2%. You still may be able to find cans of this in the wild or certain bars (Club 76 has it on tap).

Big Grove HDTV

*Single Speed Barrel-Aged Double Donuts – 10% – aged in Cedar Ridge single malt whiskey barrels? Yes please! Single Speed took inspiration from their popular Zach’s Mexican Donuts, threw it in some amazing whiskey barrels and barrel-aged Double Donuts was born! Luckily I have a few cans left of this and I have every intention to sit by the fireplace and watch the snowstorm blow in tomorrow night and sip and enjoy this wonderful brew!

*Pulpit Rock Double Dave-O – 7.6% – I remember having this beer way back in January at Marquee Pizza in Coralville during their anniversary celebration. Marquee always did a great job getting Pulpit Rock on tap (Thanks Sam!) when many places couldn’t and I remember thinking that it’s going to be nice being able to visit here, have some great food and sip on some Pulpit beers…..things have changed a bit because of the pandemic but Pulpit sure has adapted to the changing times and have done an amazing job getting their cans available in certain locations around Eastern Iowa (Need Pizza + Reds Alehouse). Double Dave-O stood out because of the hop profile. Citra and mosaic, two of my favorites made this a quenching IPA leaving me wanting another one!

Pulpit Rock Double Dave-O

*Dimensional Imperial Cinna-Man Bun – 11.7% – there are some beers that you can be a little hesitant to order because you’ve already played it out in your head how it was going to taste. With this particular beer, I thought for sure it would be way too sweet for me with over the top cinnamon, admittedly I was completely wrong. Dimensional brought balance to a beer that could have gone the complete opposite direction, especially for a pastry stout. Another great fall/winter beer to sip on, wish I had some more of it!

Dimensional Imperial Cinna-Man Bun

*Clock House Sweet Innocence – 5.2% – 42 lbs of black cherries added to this kettle sour which made for a truly refreshing beer to sip on on hot ass August night in Iowa. This is a beer that I hope to see again during the warmer months and if you haven’t tried it, if Clock House does release it again, it’s worth the trip to Cedar Rapids!

Clock House Sweet Innocence

There is the list! It’s always fun to compile but never easy to narrow down! With such a trying year in the beer/restaurant industry it is amazing on how these breweries have adapted to keep their businesses alive and to also keep us stocked with beer. A huge cheers to all of them and I hope you continue to support your local brewery and businesses. I know I probably missed your favorite of the year so please let me know what your list looks like! Cheers!

GIVE AWAY TIME! Iowa Beer Advent Calendar courtesy of Glyn Mawr Winery up for grabs!

What better way to ring in December than with your very own Iowa Beer advent calendar! I was lucky enough to take part in helping pick out some amazing Iowa beers to include in this awesome calendar made by Glyn Mawr Winery in Mount Vernon, IA and now you have a chance to get one for free! Here’s what you need to do:

*Visit Glyn Mawr’s Facebook post and respond to it with your favorite Iowa brewed beer and also tag and friend and you will automatically be entered. Visit their Facebook page by clicking HERE!

*Visit Glyn Mawr’s Instagram account and respond to the post with your favorite Iowa brewed beer and also tagging a friend. Click HERE to go to their Instagram account!

*Winner will be randomly drawn and notified. Proxies are allowed for pickup, just notify myself or the winery for that!

About the calendar: We tried to include as many different Iowa breweries as possible and also tried to include as many different styles of beer as possible. There are so many great beers being brewed and I think we have a great collection included in this calendar!

GIVEAWAY TIME!! 🍺You guys have BLOWN US AWAY with pre-orders, so we have decided to have a GIVEAWAY for one of our Craft Iowa Beer Advent Calendars! ($85 value!)🎄TO QUALIFY: COMMENT below with your favorite IOWA craft beer, and TAG a friend that might want to get in on one of our calendars before they sell out! 🍺Check out the list of breweries we have included: @clockhousebrewing, @fsbtaproom, @singlespeedbrewingco, @dimensionalbeer, @gezelligbrewing, @thewbrew, @biggrovebrewery, @tgbrews, @5ivecitiesbrewing, @reunionbrewery, @exilebrewingco, @backpocketbrewing, @sutliffcider, @lionbridgebrew, @iowabrewingco, @wilsonsorchardia We will pick a winner this weekend! It will be available to pick up 11/25, 11/27, or 11/28!🍺🍷ALSO, we only have 10 CALENDARS LEFT, so get online and pre-order yours today!

Big Grove “Starla” returns this weekend! Northside Oktoberfest in a box includes Big Grove/Adventurous Collab!

Starla

Some exciting news from Big Grove Brewery this week as they plan to release their hazy double ipa “Starla” in cans this weekend. Showcasing citra and Idaho 7 hops, the first release of “Starla” clocked in at 6.4%, not sure if the 2nd run will be the same or not. Along with “Starla” Big Grove has also released “All New Everything” double IPA in cans.

Big Adventure

A busy week for BG for sure and to top it off, their collab with Adventurous Brewing, “Big Adventure” hazy double IPA and “Northside” Helles Lager will be featured in Northside Oktoberfest in a box. So, if you got in on the Northside release you’re getting what are sure to be some tasty brews! The weekend approaches and cold beer will be welcomed! Support your local breweries, bars, and restaurants! Cheers!

Northside Helles

Benz Beer Fest Preview: What’s Big Grove Bringing?

big groveDo you see that? At the bottom of the image? Yes, Richard the Coffee will be pouring from growlers as well. No, not fills, but don’t get too down, just get your ass there and get a growler pour. Not to mention Turtle Hunter and a new Sugar Bottom Series brew…Cherry and Rhubarb? Can’t go wrong there. Get there early, Richard pours at 2, the rest is up all day until it’s gone. Don’t let the rain dissuade you, drink some great local beers!

Benz Big Grove 2.jpg

Eat Here! St. Burch Tavern; Iowa City, IA

IMG_0243.JPGEver since hearing about the purchase of what was the former Atlas restaurant by the BIg Grove/Pullman group and the announcement of changing it to a fresh seafood bar I’ve been chomping at the bit to visit. Finally, I got to head to St. Burch on Friday night and I must say, my expectations were exceeded.

I did call and make reservations which was a good idea since the place was absolutely packed. We waited down in the den which has sweet vibe to it. A ton of cocktails to choose from and a beer list that included some Big Grove offerings. I kept it a beer night had a couple blood orange arms race although next time I might have to try a couple of cocktails as they looked mighty tasty. After a brief wait our table was ready and I must say, St. Burch’s menu is tough to order from just because of so many terrific sounding options. Fresh seafood, burgers, sandwiches, steaks, chops, etc. all available and all mouth watering. Click HERE for a link to their menu.

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We started off with the seafood tower, which you can see by the picture, I enjoyed a bit too much as I didn’t even get a picture of the food. There are 2 different “tower” options, one that feeds 2-3 and one that feeds 5-6. We got the 2-3 and it was excellent. Fresh oysters on the half shell, two different kinds I believe, salmon spread, shrimp cocktail, and tuna tartare. All excellent, the oysters didn’t stand a chance. Fresh and delicious. My table shared a bunch of entrees. We went with the Duroc pork chop, 2 orders of the lobster pot pie, and 3 fried oyster sliders. I enjoyed them all but the pork chop and the lobster pot pie were simply amazing. The pot pie is something you just have to order because it’s that awesome and you’ll regret not getting it if you don’t. The chop was cooked perfectly and served on a bed of cheddar cheese grits which were excellent as well.

So much good food to order. I did see someone order the short rib and it looked stunning, so I know for sure on my next trip I’ll be getting that and lobster pot pie and the seafood tower and a loose meat sandwich and a shit ton of oysters…… Two HUGE thumbs up to St. Burch, a restaurant that Iowa City/Cedar Rapids area needed. Cheers to Chef Smart and Cory Kent for handling a busy ass night shucking oysters and getting folks seated. Great time here, can’t wait to get back. Until then you guys need to eat here!

A Visit to the Iowa City Beer Caves

IMG_0518.JPGThis past Friday evening I was lucky enough to be part of a group that was able to tour the Iowa City beer caves. Need to give special thanks to Chad Young of Big Grove for giving me the opportunity to go and also Nate Kaeding for setting up the tour.

The tour started in the Brewery Square building right across the street from High Grounds Coffee shop in Iowa City, which is now a La James hair salon. Now, you can’t just head to the building and expect to give yourself you’re own tour, so don’t show up unless you want your hair done or nice little massage.

I don’t want to try to attempt a history lesson like Marlin Ingalls gave us about the history of the caves, but a little background on these caves that I gathered from our tour guide, Mr. Ingalls, says that there were 3 breweries between East Market and Linn Streets with the Union Brewery, now Brewery Square, is still there. According to Mr. Ingalls, the tunnels were constructed using limestone slabs in a stone box method.

As we made our way to caves, our first obstacle was the 25 foot climb down a rickety-ass ladder. I’m not huge fan of heights and just the initial task of getting a strong foothold and grasping of old stone was a challenge for me. I may have been shaking just a tad but I finally made it down. As Mr. Ingalls said, it’s one thing to talk about these tunnels and to look at the 3D map of them, but to actually see them in person, and be down in spot where brewers were making their beer was just a terrific experience and seeing the history of brewing in Iowa City is something I’ll never forget.

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IMG_0528.JPGIMG_0529.JPGThere were a few spots where there was accumulating water and Mr. Ingalls believes this water was used to float the kegs/barrels down and made transferring of the heavy barrels a bit easier for the workers. After some questions about if the caves had exits, Mr. Ingalls did confirm they do not lead to the Iowa River but there are still a few parts of the caves that they are not sure what they were used for.
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Read more on the caves at the links below and the next time you are down by Brewery Square in Iowa City think about the history that you’re walking above as you make your way to George’s for an Arms Race from Big Grove and a couple of cheeseburgers. Many thanks again to Chad Young, Nate Kaeding, and Marlin Ingalls for the great experience!

http://www.dailyiowan.com/2015/05/08/Metro/42136.html

http://littlevillagemag.com/iowa-city-under-ground/

http://www.press-citizen.com/story/news/local/2016/06/23/early-renderings-iowa-city-beer-cave-scans/86299030/