Iowa Beer Week in Review: Big Grove, Lion Bridge, Thew, TG, 3rd Base, BP, Millstream

Quite a few new releases making their ways to our local Iowa breweries with the big news of Big Grove brewery beers hitting our local liquor stores. Here’s more:

**Big Grove**– with a successful release of Easy Eddy cans last Saturday (I would like more of this please!) Big Grove followed that up with the release of 4 packs of First Launch Double Dry Hopped IPA. These cans hit select spots (see poster) and will be followed with the release of Big Grove’s core lineup. Exciting stuff coming from Solon and Iowa City. Also, that cask of Easy Eddy w/pineapple and mango was absolutely terrific. But yes, more Easy Eddy cans please!

first launch

**Lion Bridge Brewery** – swinging over to Cedar Rapids where Lion Bridge has been consistently busy supplying us with new and awesome beers. Zack Morris Cell Phone IPA release was a hit and delicious and they have followed that up with Tidbits Pineapple Pale Ale which was tapped yesterday (4/26). I’m looking forward to sucking a few of those down this weekend. Along with Tidbits, Lion Bridge is getting back to getting some of their amazing Saisons on the lines. This past week Plum Saison was tapped and prior they had their Apricot Saison on the lines. And last but not least for Lion Bridge was the release of one of my favorites…Coffee Kolsch! They even got that on the lines of my local watering hole in Mount Vernon, Chameleon’s Pub and Grub. Guessing Quinton, Rob and Alec did that just for me, thanks fellas!

lion bridge.jpg

thew**Thew Brewing** – the new kid on the block continues to impress with some excellent offerings even though they are less than a month old! This week they released I-380 pale ale which checks in at 6.7% and Kingston Kolsch made its way to their lines. Thew brews have also found homes in a few other establishments in CR and the surrounding area so keep an eye out. Food Trucks and Friday $2 off pours make this your perfect post work pit stop today!

third base**Third Base Brewery** – some excellent beers brewed and consumed on Blair’s Ferry Road this past week as 3rd Base released their version of a hazy New England style IPA, Crooked Monkey. Along with the Monkey they also released a delicious double pils called Intergalactic Pilsner.

backpocket**Backpocket Brewing** – starting this week Backpocket offers 16 oz crowlers to be filled of your favorite Backpocket brew. They also released an Australian sparkling ale and two other beers. SOKOL juicy IPA and a variation of their Australian Sparkling ale made with tangerine purée, vanilla, lactose sugar, cinnamon and clove. Those all tap today (4/27)!

millstream**Millstream Brewing** – Iowa’s oldest brewery has been testing some brews on their pilot system and yesterday tapped a Session IPA. Brewery only for this one so get there and grab a taste.

**Barn Town Brewing** – heading over to the Des Moines area we have Barn Town continuing to pump out some very tasty ales. The addition of their beers to tap lines at 30hop, Marquee, and Tin Roost has been welcomed with open arms. Pulp non-Fiction is back on the lines at the brewery which hopefully means we will see it back on the lines near us. Along with that, they released Appaloosa, a New England style IPA that checks in at 7.3% and is currently available at Marquee Pizza in Coralville! They also announced that Sticky Juice will be their next bottle release. Stay tuned for more news on that!

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**Toppling Goliath** – the big news out of TG this week is the return of the popular Scorpius Morchella, a double IPA. This beer has been brewed and distro has started so keep your eyes peeled for this bad boy!

scorpius

**That’s all I have for this week. If I missed something or you have news or brews to share drop me a line! benmed15@yahoo.com Cheers!

Drink This! Big’s BBQ Jackhammer Stout

Bigs.jpgLiving in a small college town like Mount Vernon, IA it’s nice to have a few great options when it comes to beer and food. Chameleon’s Pub and Grub with about 10 craft beer lines focusing on the local breweries such as Big Grove, Lion Bridge, and Reunion and up a couple shops from Chameleon’s we have Lincoln Winebar that has the best pizza in the state along with a huge wine list and some very good craft beer bottles as well. Adding to those two places is a new BBQ joint right down the block.

Big’s BBQ is a welcome addition to the area adding a cuisine we didn’t have. Terrific ribs, brisket, and pulled pork are just a few of the options at Bigs, but what is really great (especially for me) is that they are also a brewpub. Turning out their own beer starting with 2 on their opening week, Big’s currently has around 6-7 of their own on tap. Last night, I was able to try their Jackhammer Stout. Checking in at 8.5%, this stout delivers in all aspects that you would like a stout to deliver in the flavor profile. Perhaps a bit thin but the roastiness along with chocolate and coffee with a tad of some dark fruit makes for a very drinkable stout with a very well-hidden 8.5% ABV.

Pair this beer with some ribs, brisket, or a sandwich and it’s a tough combination to beat. They’ve only been open for a few months but I like what the future holds for this place for both food and beer. You’ll have to make the trek to Mt. Vernon, and if you do, hit up Chameleon’s for a Lion Bridge Workman’s Comp, head to Winebar for a terrific pizza and then walk down the block for some ribs and Drink This! Jackhammer Stout at Big’s! Cheers!

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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!