Drink This! Clock House Low Bandito Cherry/Coconut

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One of my favorite tap rooms to visit is at Clock House Brewing. Something about that space that just makes me feel comfortable, and the fact that they are turning out some damn tasty brews too. I stopped in on a relatively slow Sunday afternoon and was lucky enough to have a pour of their Low Bandito Cherry/Coconut barrel-aged stout.

Low Bandito is their imperial stout and they’ve made some different variants of that tasty brew. I’ve had the vanilla, chocolate, coconut variant and really enjoyed that but the Cherry Coconut really stood out! Here’s more on this brew:

Driftless Glenn Bourbon Barrel Aged Imperial Stout. Aged on tart cherries and coconut

Wonderful aroma from the barrel that blends really well with the subtle coconut flavor. Cherry wasn’t prevalent right away but after it warmed the cherry really shined through. I ordered a Hazy Clock Tease while I let the Bandito sit for a while just to get more from that tart cherry. This checks in at a 9.6% but it was trying not to order a second draw.

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I’m not sure how much of this brew Todd and Clock House have left so you might want to make the trek to downtown CR to get yourself a taste of this delicious brew. It is CR Craft beer so that can be your reason to get out and Drink This!

Drink These! Lion Bridge BA Gobble Wobble and Coffee Kolsch

lion bridgeA great time for some great beer here in Eastern Iowa. Many local breweries have been busting their ass with some spectacular releases and one of those breweries is Lion Bridge. Last week I was able to make it down and get to taste one of their seasonals in Gobble Wobble and one that we see every now and then in Coffee Kolsch.

Let’s start with the Kolsch. We visited Iowa Taproom last fall the first time I had it and I must say I was a bit apprehensive as I thought the Kolsch style with a coffee adjunct just wouldn’t be that great….but I was completely off in that thinking.

Here’s more on this brew:Our Herr of the Dog Kolsch with a healthy dose of Peruvian light roast coffee added before kegging. A delightfully different beer. Coming in at 4.6%

This is an anytime of day beer. The coffee nose is intoxicating and the flavor isn’t overpowering coffee but definitely there and delicious. I want this with my bacon and eggs or for a post meal drink. If you’re not into the Kolsch style I promise you’ll still dig this beer. Coffee and beer lovers can rejoice, Lion Bridge nailed it with this brew! I just hope it’s still on tap for this coming weekend!

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Onto the seasonal release of Gobble Wobble. There are many beers that mark the beginning of fall for me…Founders Breakfast Stout is one for sure and Lion Bridge Gobble Wobble is another! Here’s more on this brew:

Wild Turkey Bourbon barrels set the table, but this rich, malty brown ale is the main dish. No Thanksgiving table is complete without a glass or two of this hearty brew.

Gobble Wobble is an Imperial Brown ale that is aged in Wild Turkey barrels. This is the perfect beer for the chilly fall months as the nuttiness that the brown ale gives you is not necessarily consumed by the booziness of the barrel. Don’t get me wrong, the barrel is evident….and makes this beer even more delicious.

Get these and drink these two while you can, they may not be around much longer!

 

3 Iowa Beers to Drink Now!

beerbaronI couldn’t do just 1 Drink This! edition this time around as the state of Iowa is sending out so much great beer I had to do three! As we approach the 2017 Coralville Brrr Fest and with the program released this past week anticipation is mounting for ticket holders to get a taste of Iowa’s finest breweries and beers. Within the last 5 days I’ve had the opportunity to try 3 amazing beers from 3 amazing Iowa breweries. So here are three beers the you have to DRINK NOW!

img_0990**Big Grove Brewery – Buster Triple IPA** – Buster released this past Tuesday and I knew for sure I had to hit Big Grove and try this baby fresh. Mosaic hops shine with flavors of juicy fruit gum, tropical fruits, and some grassiness. A wonderful dank ass triple IPA. There is one thing that can be bad about this brew…it’s scary drinkable. An 11.4% ABV triple IPA can definitely put you on your ass if you don’t pay attention! This might arguably be the best or one of the best double/triple IPAs in the state. Follow this link to see my post on where it will be available and they also just hit the Cellar Peanut Pub in Pella with a hell of a lineup! So good, can’t wait for another glass! Cheers Big Grove!

 

IMG_0992.JPG**Lion Bridge Brewery – GAZPROM 2017** – I’ve been waiting for this release since last year. Lion Bridge takes the shitty, dark, long ass month of January and makes pretty damn enjoyable with their Barrel-Aged January releases. A new release, every week, for the month of January and all barrel-aged beers. I’ve loved the Winter Warmer and the Royal Wee but the big dog for me is GAZPROM!. The sweetness from the syrup is the perfect balance to booziness from the barrels. I say this a lot but this is a top-tier beer for me….maybe top 10? Top 5? Either way, I can’t wait to have more of this and thank you Quinton and Alec and Lion Bridge for making January tolerable!

 

img_0994**Madhouse Brewery – VIP Barrel Aged Vanilla Porter** – was happy my Mt. Vernon Road Hy-Vee had a few bottles of this, wasn’t sure if we would see it all. I had been hearing good things coming from the fine beer folks in Des Moines and was hoping to land one of these. I’ve been hit and miss with vanilla added to my beers. Sometimes I dig it when it’s not over they type vanilla extract and with Madhouse VIP I’m really digging it. The slight sweetness from the vanilla pairs with the barrel and just a faint hint of cigar smoke on the aftertaste. Viscous, tasty, and warming. An excellent companion to a chilly January evening.

There you go Iowa. Three newer beers for you to try. Hopefully all 3 make it somewhere close to your area and you get a taste, and hopefully you enjoyed them as much as I did/do! Cheers!

A Taste of the Locals

beerbaronWith Cedar Rapids Beer Week behind us but  with American Craft Beer Week starting this week I thought I would take time to focus on some new and noteworthy offerings that have been given to us from the great brewers in our surrounding area and the places that serve them.

I understand it’s very difficult for many of us to get out as much as we’d like due to jobs, kids, money, etc., but here are a few things to try IF you are able to get out on the town. Keep in mind, the breweries in our area are very kid friendly! I think my kids have been to Lion Bridge, Big Grove, and Third Base more than they’ve been to McDonalds. My son would be able to recognize Bill Heinrich, Doug Goettsch and Quinton McClain before Ronald McDonald. Anyway, here are a few things to get after!

big grove**Big Grove Brewery**– brand new Barley Wine just hit the lines to go along with De Facto pale ale. Was able to try their Cucumber/Mint que sera. Not sure they will be doing any more pins of that but if you see it (Last Friday @Bricks) jump at any variants of Que Sera. Can’t forget the new double IPA, Cronos. Peach, pine, and citrus in a glass. An extremely drinkable double.Rabbit, Kent, and Chad are busting ass and getting some great beer in our glasses. Tasty stuff! The food is some of the best in the area as well as Chef Benjamin Smart and crew bring the goods. If they ever advertise a beer dinner, jump all of that shit, it’ll be worth it!

lion bridge**Lion Bridge Brewery** – having Yard Sale readily available is a treat. This is one of my favorites in the area and each batch seems to get better and better. Throw in Alec Travis’ Cowabunga Common (California Common), at least one Saison (I believe Jackhammer is on right now, fantastic brew), and they always reliable Workman’s Comp to round out the lineup. Throw in some pork nachos to go with the brew, and my friend, that is a good night!

third base**Third Base Brewery** – UNDERRATED BREWER ALERT!! Jim Johnston can flat out brew some damn great beer! Many of you know this already, many of you don’t. You see the strip mall brewery and probably pass by it without a thought. His Pink Drink, a berliner-weisse with hibiscus, rose hips, passion fruit, and orange peel, is excellent and refreshing. I’m still going crazy of Shame, a pale wheat/blonde. Reminds me of Gumballhead, maybe better? Next time driving on Blair’s Ferry, make it a point to stop in and drink a few, and don’t forget to grab some wings, they might be the best in the area!


iowa**Iowa Brewing Company**
– the new kid on the block. I’ve been there twice since they’ve opened and have enjoyed my experience each time. With the addition of some food trucks on weekends, expect this to be a major player in the brew game. Their citra pale ale was delicious, and like many other breweries in the area, I expect them to get better and better with time.

 

Need**Need Pizza**– the pizza is great and then they went ahead and put Pulpit Rock/Alluvial Whippy-Dip Ah double IPA on tap ALONG with Saftig. It made for a good night, but almost made for a night to call a cab. CR have uber yet? Take your significant other and kids to Need, grab a pie, drink a couple beers, and enjoy downtown.

 

lincoln**Lincoln Winebar (Mt. Vernon)** – if you don’t know Jesse Sauerbrei, you’re missing out. To go along with his humorous personality, knowledge of fine wines and beer, and making the best pizza in the area, is a guy who has really kept the food movement going in the small town of Mt. Vernon. Not only are there excellent pizzas, but an extensive wine list and a great selection of bottles of beer. Always personable, always willing to talk local food scene, talk wine and beer, Winebar is a standout.

chameleon's.jpg**Chameleon’s Pub and Grub (Mt. Vernon) ** – don’t let a small town bar fool you. Don’t think they won’t have much to offer in terms of beer. Nick at Chameleon’s has made sure that the craft beer geek in all of us will not go thirsty in Mt. Vernon. This little bar will usually have something from Lion Bridge/Big Grove/Exile/Peace Tree on tap to go along with the newest from New Belgium among others. The last time I was there I was able to try PeaceTrees Grapefruit IPA and I always leave with a growler of Workman’s Comp from Lion Bridge (YES! They do growler fills).

turner alley**Turner Alley** – I’ll take Travis Scheidecker’s Pils over just about any I’ve had in the states, Pivo Pils withstanding…maybe. His double IPA was excellent and the Brucemore Brown was roasty and delicious. I’m looking forward to more offerings and I need to get my ass over the taproom to have a few from the source.

 

the sausage foundry**Sausage Foundry (NewBo Market)** – go to Sausage Foundry, talk beer and sausage with Steven, leave with a bunch of tubular meats to enjoy. If you’re smart, get there on a Thursday before his latest offerings fly off the shelves!

Weekend is looking nice folks! I haven’t touched the Iowa City area yet and above is a list of greatness awaiting you! Go out, eat local, drink local, and support local!

 

What’s New, Notable, and Local?

big groveSo many good beers are on our shelves right now it makes for a wonderful problem to have! One thing is for sure though, you never have to worry about the freshness of beer when you are buying local from our breweries in the area! Talk about good problems to have, we are pretty spoiled in having such great quality, great tasting, wonderfully brewed beer just miles away from our doorsteps. So what’s new from our local breweries? Here’s a start! (if I missed something let me know! Try to post on any Iowa breweries so feel free to contact me: benmed1515@yahoo.com) 

*Big Grove Brewery – the constantly rotating lineup of beers makes for a weekly must stop for the Baron and this week the announcement that Que Amarillo is back and Que Ondo Retaca is on the line made my week! But what’s new? :

**Love Potion – a rye beer that checks in at 6.5%

Maybe the most exciting news for Big Grove right now is what we can’t drink yet! Bill, Rabbit, and Tee have been busy with some big time brews. A Lambic, more Richard, a Brett Double IPA, and Mellow Drama will be hitting lines in the future. Damn, thirsty after typing that out.  Here’s the updates from Big Grove’s Facebook page:

From 11/6/15: Today we’re brewing the next batch of lambic using a traditional TURBID MASH. We’ve done the coolship thing on the last batch, and we’ve always used stale Iowa grown hops, and we’re fermenting a bunch in oak, but this giant pain in the ass mashing technique is, I believe, the next step in making real lambic. We’re also going to a 40% raw wheat grist instead of flaked wheat to try and build a more complex protein matrix.

Here’s the deal: we’re going to step the mash through a few rests, starting with the peptonisation rest at 113F, then a quick bump to 136F to extract more protein from the grain. After the first bump, we will start pulling turbid runnings off of the thing into the kettle for heating. We will hold the runnings at 176F or so to stop enzymatic conversion and leave a bunch of starches and dextrin in the liquid.

After that, it’s a sacchrification rest at 149F, more runnings to the kettle, a rest at 162F for more long chain sugars, then a mash out at 176F when we put the turbid runnings back into the mash tun.

Two hours of boiling, ambient cooling, and a pitch of some hot bugs should round things out nicely. This first batch will go into some new Opus One barrels we recently procured.

This is going to be a long damn day for two wine barrels worth of lambic somewhere down the road.

FROM: 11/5/15

Welcome, Tree Chuggers, to the great month of November! It’s a month with lots of ups and downs. I mean, we get to brew tons of Richard, Lambic, Englert Brett DIPA, and Mellow Drama Maple Imperial Porter, but you don’t get to drink those beers for quite some time. Sorry.

In the mean time, satiate your thirst with some 2015 Richard, Que Amarillo (it hit the lines last night), and Love Potion (obviously I didn’t name that one).

lion bridge*Lion Bridge Brewery – I wasn’t able to get to the cask-conditioned Disaster at the Meaux w/ maple syrup tapping and I’m kicking myself for it, but more good news from Quinton and Alec at Lion Bridge is the re-release of Yard Sale! Loved this beer the first time and I’m guessing I’ll love it again. With that being said it’s hard to walk out of Lion Bridge without a coffee comp, a disaster, and one of my personal favorites a Sorachi Liberace. Here’s more on Yard Sale:

**Yard Sale – American IPA coming in at 6.4% – a must try for hopheads! Wonderfully balanced and delicious! 
turner alley**Turner Alley Brewing in Cedar Rapids continues to pump out some great beers. Travis has a new brew in the works and it’s going to be Foreign Extra Stout and we should be seeing kegs of this popping up soon. Make sure to check out Turner Alleys’ other offerings, I’m digging their pils and the newly renamed Wood’s Pale Ale.

**Firetrucker Brewery – a couple of newer releases from the fine folks at Firetrucker in Ankeny. Make sure to check them out, a very cool place to visit and have a brew or 10.

Smoking_Pumpkin*Smoking Pumpkin Porter –
ABV = 6.1%
IBU – 24
“Light up the bonfire, call your friends and enjoy this smoked pumpkin brown porter! Notes of allspice and nutmeg mingle with pecan smoke on the nose. Flavors of pumpkin and spices linger with a smokey finish. The porter base provides roasted malt flavors that tie it all together. This limited, seasonal beer is the perfect companion for a chilly fall day!”

Acova Black Walnut Ale Card
*Acova Black Walnut Ale
– their winter seasonal, Acova Black Walnut Ale is now out and is a smooth easy drinking brown ale made with local (fresh) black walnuts. This brew checks in at 6.8%.
third base
**Third Base Brewery**- Brewer Jim Johnston has some new beers up his sleeve to be released before the end of the year at Third Base in Cedar Rapids. Here’s what he said is coming down the line soon:
I have an IPA with Citra and Mosaic coming up shortly. It currently doesn’t have a name. Our Imperial Stout this year is called “Endless Decent Into Ruin”. It is big (12%) but really smooth. To be brewed we have Coffee Cobra and an Imperial Porter. That should get us through the year.
An IPA with citra and mosaic? Yes please! And a big stout to warm us up for these chilly months!

Lion Bridge Brewery Celebrates 1 Year Anniversary! Event Details

Received the following email from Lion Bridge Brewery in Cedar Rapids who will be celebrating their 1 year anniversary today, March 5th! To celebrate they will be having many events and beer releases throughout the month. Here are the details:

One Year Anniversary Celebration

It’s hard to believe that today, March 5th, marks 1 year that Lion Bridge has been in business. We are truly honored to have many of you as loyal patrons (or maybe even just loyal followers), and we are constantly striving to make sure our beer and our building remain catalysts to conversation and community.

You trust us to produce world-class beers and we do not take that responsibility lightly.

As our way of celebrating and showing our appreciation, we want to offer some special events and discounts throughout the month.

Lion Bridge and Cobble Hill Beer Dinner March 31st

Come celebrate the successes of two great local businesses with a night of world-class beer and amazing food. Lion Bridge Brewing Company turns 1 year old this month and Cobble Hill just recently celebrated 2 years in February.

Head Brewer Quinton McClain of Lion Bridge and Chef Andy Schumacher of Cobble Hill have teamed up to create a 4-course beer pairing dinner (as well as 1 “Welcome” pint upon arrival at 6:30pm) that will highlight, complement, and contrast the talents and these two individuals and the talented teams that assist them.

This is an experience not be missed. New and previously unreleased beers from Lion Bridge will be utilized and paired with the diverse and imaginative selections of Chef Andy.

Menu to be released soon. Price includes all gratuity and tax. Simply show up and enjoy.

Click here for tickets
Pint Night
March 15th
Don’t have enough beer glasses at home??  Help us help you.  $9 gets you an imperial pint of Lion Bridge beer and then you get to take the glass home with you!
Winterland plays Lion Bridge March 27th @ 6pm
Specializing in the Grateful Dead’s music from 1969 through the late 1970s, Winterland channels the music of the Grateful Dead with an uncanny authenticity, a sublime fidelity to the Dead’s musicianship, sound and emotional connection with the audience – that almost indefinable something that, according to audience feedback, Dead fans are currently hard pressed to find elsewhere.
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Follow us on social media to stay up to date on Anniversary events and new happenings everyday!
Cheese and Beer Pairing
Thursday, March 19th

Do you love beer? Do you love cheese?

Well, make your way over to Lion Bridge Brewing Co. for a cheese and beer pairing on March, 19th, from 6:00pm to 8:00pm.  We will be putting together 5 “do it yourself” cheese appetizers that will be paired with 5 of our beers.  Come learn how to prepare these simple cheese dishes which are sure to impress all your future house guests.  

For $25 you will receive 5 taster glasses of beers that go along with each cheese appetizer, a taster glass to take home, and a 12oz beer of your choice (Specialty beers excluded). Don’t miss out on this fun and informative event!

Click here for tickets
Special St. Patrick’s Day Hours March 17th
Having the official stout of St. Patrick’s Day means we need to be open (taproom is typically closed on Tuesday).  On March 17th, come in as early as 10am to get your fill of Olde No. 17 Irish Potato Stout. The taproom will be open at least until 8pm. Irish food specials will also be available.
St. Joseph’s Day Parade and Polka Music
March 21st at 2pm
Local Favorites Czech Plus will get you in the mood to drink some Pilsener on March 21st for the St. Joseph’s day parade.  Come watch the parade at Lion Bridge at 1pm and enjoy some awesome polka music shortly after. Pair with Czech food specials!

The Class Act Restaurant at Hotel Kirkwood and Lion Bridge Collaborate

Chef de Cuisine at The Class Act Restaurant, Daniel Dennis, helps us celebrate our anniversary during the week of March 25th by creating a weekly special inspired by what inspires him (in this case, Lion Bridge beer). Come in early this week and see what he has prepared. The special will be limited. When it’s gone, it’s gone.

CSA Appreciation Week

We are coming up on selling our 300th Community Supported Ales Membership!  In honor of that we want to extend a thank you to all of our CSA members who have worn our shirts, filled our growlers, and drank our beer.

We will be doing a week long appreciation from March 25th-March 29th for all of our CSA members as a thank you for your support this first year.

Not yet part of the CSA? Purchase your membership in the month of March and receive all the benefits of membership (growler and first fill, t-shirt, discounts, exclusive events) as well as get your first imperial pint as a new member on us!

(Don’t want to be a CSA member? That’s fine too.  Look to Facebook and Twitter for other beer and food specials that are available to everyone.  We appreciate your support!)

List of CSA Appreciation Week Events:

Tuesday, March 24th:  Our new beer, Fabio (Pink Peppercorn American Wheat, 6.0%abv) will release for CSA members only. We will open only for members and a significant other from 5-7ish so you can come and try the new beer plus get $12 growler fills of Fabio (normally $15 for CSA members)

Wednesday,  March 25th: CSA Imperial Pint night. All night, Imperial Pints of our standard price beers will be $4 for CSA members.

Thursday, March 26th: Growlers of Ziva Voda will be $9

Friday, March 27th:  Winterland show and beer discounts tbd

Saturday, March 28th:  Tapping a keg of Barrel Aged Wheat Wine. CSA members get 1 free, 5 ounce taster of this delicious brew today only.

Sunday, March 29th:  CSA members who come in wearing a t-shirt this day get $12 growler fills of Coffee Compensation (or an equivalent if you have drank us out of all of it before the day)

Quarter Barrel Brewery/Arcade Opening in 2015 in Cedar Rapids

quarter barrelDave Dewitte of Corridor Business (www.corridorbusiness.com) just released an article on their website saying another microbrewery will be opening up in 2015 in Cedar Rapids. This one, however, has a different twist. It will be a retro arcade game brewery. Here are some highlights from the article:

Quarter Barrel, a vintage arcade-themed microbrewery, is aiming for a spring 2015 opening. Customers will have to decide whether a game of Donkey Kong goes down best with ale, porter, stout or other handcrafted brews.

Entertainment will revolve more than 30 video arcade games from the 1970s to the late 1980s, such as Mr. Do’s Wild Ride, Donkey Kong and Galaga. The period was the “golden age” of video arcades, according to co-owner Chris Ellis, and a generation of Gen-Xers and baby boomers still remember them fondly.

The trio set its sights on downtown Cedar Rapids, and purchased 616 Second Ave. SE earlier this year. It is a century-old storefront building that had been built to house an electric automobile charging station and battery store in the days when most automobiles in Cedar Rapids were electric.

Mr. Ellis said Quarter Barrel plans to be a small, 7 to 10-barrel brewing operation that initially, at least, would brew beer for on-premises consumption. But Mr. Ellis hopes to break free of what he considers a limiting formula for beer menus in most brewpubs that leans heavily on popular standards. A hops-heavy pilsner, for example, could be offered as a substitute for an IPA. A Baltic porter might be featured instead of a stout beer. They are also planning a crowdfunding campaign that will involve some specialty beers for subscribers.

To view the entire Corridor Business article follow this link:http://www.corridorbusiness.com/news/cr-microbrewery-plans-retro-game-theme/

Lion Bridge Brewery Updates: Beer Dinner + Patio

lion bridgeI just received the following from Lion Bridge Brewing’s newsletter. A beer dinner is coming up and the menu looks absolutely specular! A lot of great things happening at Lion Bridge and the Czech Village in Cedar Rapids, check them out! Here’s more:

Hello from Lion Bridge Brewing Company!


The taproom has been open for about 6 weeks now and we have been overwhelmed by the positive reception, and overwhelmed by the amount of beer we have gone through.

We would like to thank everyone who has been able to come in for a beer and look forward to seeing you again in the future.

Look for a full battery of acoustic panels the next time you come in (should help make our old grocery store a little quieter), a patio will be put in here soon, and we are installing a projector so we can get a movie night up and running in the not-so-distant future.

We will keep you informed as we add new beers to our line up and we are excited to have our first beer dinner coming up.  The dinner includes 5 courses and 5, half-pints of Lion Bridge beer.

Where: Lion Bridge Brewing Company
             59 16th Avenue SW
             Cedar Rapids, IA
             52404
When: Tuesday, May 6th @ 6:30pm
Cost: $50

Contact us at: info@lionbridgebrewing.com or reply to this email if you want to reserve a spot. Please include the number in your party and a contact phone number.  We will call to confirm your spot later this week. 

This is spur of the moment, and we are keeping it small, so please don’t hesitate.

Menu for this dinner is:

-Bar Snack of toasted barley with mixed nuts
(Belgian Amber Ale)

-Homemade Brewer’s Grain Bread with Local Butter and Radish

(Živá Voda: Pilsner)

-Asparagus Soup with Pistachio Cream
(Mad Maximillion: Belgian IPA)

 
-Beer Braised Brisket with Herb Sauce and Baby Potatoes in Browned Butter and Chives
(Sticke Altbier)
 
-Strawberries and Cream with Pretzel Crumble
(Smoked Chocolate Stout)
 

Now that our schedule is stabilizing, look for more email updates (but not too many) about new beers and events for the summer and beyond. 

Thanks for your interest in local beer.

Cheers!
The LBBC

Interview with Quinton McClain; brewer/owner Lion Bridge Brewing

lion bridgeQuinton McClain was kind enough to take time out from a very busy schedule to answer some questions about his new brewery, Lion Bridge Brewery in Cedar Rapids, IA. I’ve been multiple times now and absolutely love what Quinton and his staff is going. The smoked chocolate stout is amazing and the Mad Max is terrific as well. Check out Quinton and his beers soon!

Q: Would you classify your beers as traditional or more of a unique style?
            
  I wouldn’t say the beers I am making are traditional.  Some of them are representing specific styles, but they have subtle changes that I think make them intriguing. These initial beers are not brash. Uniqueness is often associated with brashness and rightfully so. These initial beers are subtle and I think some people equate subtlety with traditional styles. I am very proud of the beers we have now and as inventory steadies and I branch out to more high abv, etc beers, I will be excited for different flavor possibilities.
I think our uniqueness will come from my ability to improvise and grow a portfolio that represents a lot of different beer styles.  I believe a great portfolio makes a great brewery.  There need to be session beers, experimental beers, herb and spice variants, and oaked beers…all available at the same time. There are no beers I am afraid of making for fear of ruining my classification.
Q: How many beers will be available at the brewery? Any plans for seasonals or special releases?
 
Lots of plans for new beers.  We have 21 taps, and I hope to have at least 12 dedicated to my beers by the end of the year. I am aging a wheat wine in Cedar Ridge Brandy Barrels right now.  A rye IPA is coming up, and I will be doing some cask beer in a few more weeks.
Q: What was your story before opening Lion Bridge? How did you get involved in brewing?
    
   I was a brewer at the Fort Collins Brewery for a few years, took a Siebel Course before that and has an internship at Millstream.  I wore a lot of hats at FCB and helped put together a brand new facility that really helped me understand the guts of a brewery. Before all this, I worked in some craft beer stores, brewed at home a bit, traveled a lot, and really loved the stories and culture behind beverages and food. There is nothing more important in the world than getting together with friends for a beer and food.  I truly believe that. I felt the best way to live out that belief is to make beer and be around it all the time. It’s a spectacular feeling to provide people with the joy of good beer.
Q: Do you feel any pressure to follow beer trends and brew what’s popular?
     
   I think the trends are what make beer great.  We have few rules as brewers and people are always pushing the envelope. It’s important to remember that the beer that’s most popular is a macro lager…by a longshot.  I  want to bring people into the fold of craft beer; to convert them away from a light macro lager that I feel is not very fulfilling on a lot of levels. I want to have a portfolio big enough that I can brew a little bit to follow a trend, as well as keep some beers on tap to try and convert that person who comes in and wants a pitcher of Busch Light.
Q: What is the beer that you are most excited about?
I am excited about my pre-prohibition beer with corn and rye.  It’s called Usonius. It will be dry and refreshing with a little bit lactic tartness. A fun beer with a fun name that I think will pair great with summer and our patio (hopefully we get that in soon). A few IPA’s in the works and a big stout that won’t be ready until Fall. I have 1600 square feet in our basement that is just empty space right now. As soon as things calm down a bit, I might start filling it up with barrels.
About every other beer I make now is a new beer. They are all exciting.
Q: Was opening a brewery in Cedar Rapids area pretty easy? Was their any resistance? 
Opening a brewery anywhere creates it’s unique challenges, I imagine.  It’s a steep learning curve to understand the laws on local, state, and federal levels. I greatly respect anyone who goes through the process and makes it out with their own beer.  It’s easy to say, “I want to open a brewery.” It’s a big deal to actually get it out there making beer. People in our community were very supportive.  I had great mentors and advisors from many different types of businesses.
Q: What’s your favorite trend in the craft beer world right now?
I think beer and food is a growing trend that I like. It might be increased attention to detail with beer all together. Restaurants and bars care more about glassware, about serving temps, about food and beer. It gives beer more credibility. The customer is demanding a heightened experience to pair with heightened flavor, and I think publicans are responding. It raised the bar for everyone and this is a good thing for beer.
Q: Will there be food at the brewery?

We have an appetizer and snack menu and it will always be just that. It is a conscious decision on our part to stay more of a “beer hall” and not a restaurant.  We serve beer, cider, artisan sodas, and small plates.  That will be it. Our kitchen is big enough and has enough bells and whistles to put on some elaborate beer dinners.  I see that being a time when we shine with the food. I also have some plans to bring in guest chefs to do dinners.
Q: Can you discuss short term/long term goals for the brewery?
Keep filling kegs with beer. Start doing more self-distribution which is a great part of being a Native Brewery. I will assess in September/October needs for more tanks. We have space for about 12 more 20bbl tanks and a capacity of about 8,000-10,000bbls a year if we ever decide to go full on.  Maybe thrown in a Meheen bottler or a cask canner.  Who knows.  Right now, I just want to get my beer out there as much as possible, bring people into the tasting room, and get people aware of the Lion Bridge brand. I am taking it a day at a time, but always dreaming of where I would like to see things go.