Beer Baron’s Top 10 of 2021!

Another year in the books, and like every year since I’ve been doing this blog and releasing my Top 10 I was once again blown away by the amazing beers that our Iowa brewers and their staff have made for us this year! Not only that, the resiliency shown by breweries/restaurants/bars during the past few years cannot be overlooked and huge thank you to all service industry workers! Cheers to you! Onto the TOP 10!
LIST CRITERIA
*Beer must have been brewed in Iowa
*Beer must have been released in 2021
*Annual releases not counted unless a new adjunct had been added to that particular beer

Like every list, I know opinions will differ and I’m looking forward to reading what your top 10 list was for this year! Once again, so many beers, so little time, and I know I wasn’t able to even scratch the surface as to the beers I wanted to try!

**Big Grove Richard the Whale Chocolate Coconut Cake– – this year’s “Golden Ticket” beer during the Richard the Whale release, and like every year, it does not disappoint. Chocolate and coconut shine as this is wonderfully balanced, great for any time of the day, another win for Big Grove with this beer!

**Lion Bridge Silvia – Farmhouse ales are a style that goes overlooked and thankfully is making their way back to some breweries, and Lion Bridge not only made a great one, but possibly my favorite beer of the year. It was a perfect accompaniment to the Thanksgiving dinner table..not just one bottle either…If you’re a saison/farmhouse ale fan this is one to definitely try!

**Pulpit Rock Island Life – first enjoyed on a guy’s trip to Decorah and was blown away by the wonderful tropical flavor this beer brought. Maybe the setting had a lot to do with it, but I’m pretty sure it’s just a great beer to drink!

**Gezellig Long Story Short – 4.9%– smoothie sours/seltzers were all the rage in the beer world this past year and Iowa breweries sure made a whole lot of good ones. One of my favorites comes from the lovely folks in Newton, Iowa at Gezellig. Strawberry starbursts and pomegranate helped make this a flavor packed brew!

**Lua Brewing Dawn – 13.5% – part of last year’s “Resolution” I set for myself was trying to make it to Central and Western Iowa more often to taste what the breweries are pushing out there, especially the ones that don’t get much distro to Eastern Iowa..I kind of failed in that endeavor, however, I did get to Des Moines a few times and was able to procure some Lua brews! One that really stood out was this imperial stout. Coffee and a hint of vanilla make this decadent brew stand out, and hides that ABV very well! Looking forward to more from Lua in 2022!

**Clock House Brewing Barrel Aged Peanut Panic Porter – 12% – the base beer was one of my favorites in 2020 and then adding it to barrels and resting it on peanuts, cocoa nibs, and vanilla really added more depth to an already wonderful beer. The misconception from some was that this was a peanut “butter” beer, not the case, straight up peanuts and the balance of the flavors comes through remarkably!

**Adventurous Easy Peel (triple dry hopped Mosaic)- 8.3% – the 2nd Easy Peel I’ve had this year and I think the Mosaic barely beats out the El Dorado for me. Both very good and the combo of the mosaic hops and cryo mosaic hops really stands out. Excellent beer, any of the Easy Peel beers from Adventurous would be a safe bet!

**Lion Bridge Percussive Maintenance Macaroon – 11% – Chocolate and coconut paired with a great barrel is hard to go wrong and Lion Bridge balances this beer perfectly. There are some beers that you’ll always remember opening and pouring and this is definitely one of those for me. One to sip on yourself or share with someone you care about….a moment making beer for sure! One of the best of the year!

**Lua Pushpop: Because My Heart is in Iowa – Lua Pushpops can be hard to come by if you live in Eastern Iowa, luckily they sometimes drop a few beers off at Tin Roost in North Liberty to get us a taste here in Eastern Iowa. Mango and cherry beer, super thick and delicious. Lua dominated the slushie/sour landscape in the beer world! A trip to Des Moines in needed soon!

**Dimensional You Down with OCP – 13.1% – Pastry stouts can be hit and miss with me. Many are too sweet for my liking, and the adjuncts are too dominate over the base beer, but not with this one…Dimensional added 100 lbs each of oatmeal cream pies, oatmeal cookies, and toasted coconut to this big beer and it worked wonderfully. Not too sweet at all, in fact, if the 13.1% wouldn’t drop me I could easily see myself sipping on glass #2 letting the beer warm me up in the Iowa winter!

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!