America’s River Festival BrewFest set for Saturday June 13th in Dubuque, IA

2015_ARF-Brewfest-HeaderThe early planning stages are being worked on but right now I can confirm that Dubuque will be holding a BrewFest on Saturday, June 13th in the Port of Dubuque. This festival will pair local breweries to go along with some great music. More details on the brewfest can be found here:

http://www.americasriverfestival.com/brewfest/

Gates open at noon for VIP ticket holders ($40) and 1:00 p.m. for general admission ticket holders ($30). Here’s the list as of now of the breweries who will be pouring their delicious brew:

*Backpocket
*Another Road
*Baraboo
*Confluence365_Back-Cover-ARF-Brewfest
*Galena
*Deb’s Brewtopia
*Green Flash
*Goose Island
*Great River
*Firetrucker
*Franklin Street
*Jubeck
*Kalona
*Lion Bridge
*Millstream
*Old Man River
*Potosi
*Retro
*Rockford
*Schlafly
*Summit
*Tallgrass
*Third Base
*Bent River

I’ll keep you posted if more breweries are added.

**I will be attending and I hope to see you there! Cheers!

Top 15 Iowa Beers of 2014: Part 2

Onto the next 5. While researching these 5 I came up with the realization that I need to get over to the Des Moines area more this year to try brews from Firetrucker, New American, Exile, and of course stop at 515. I’ll make this my New Year’s Resolution as I definitely need to try the great beers from these fine folks more often. Anyone have craft beer related New Year’s Eve plans? I’m torn between hitting up Big Grove for their prime rib or Lion Bridge… looks like I’ll do both! Onto the next 5:

kalona**Kalona Brewing Start-Up Stout** – I’m a sucker for great coffee beers as you’ve probably guessed and the folks in Kalona have brewed up a mighty tasty one. A great beer for winter months and excellent with your cocoa pebbles or your roast, Start-Up stout gives you the coffee you seek but if you let it warm a bit some chocolate shines through as well!

**Toppling Goliath 2014 Assassin** – I have to thanks Sam @blackstoneic for puttingtoppling goliath together the Tap Wars with Surly v. Toppling Goliath or trying this brew would have to have been a continuous dream. So creamy and smooth and easily drinkable makes it easy to see why the craft beer world seeks this beer out. Hope I can get a bottle or two of their 15 or hopefully the great Sam Hall and Blackstone can create another gem of a tap takeover.

millstream**Millstream Raspberry Latte Stout** – 3 stouts on one list? Blasphemy! The hopheads are probably getting pissed but it’s hard to ignore this one. Not only did Millstream nail this beer but it won the BARON FAMILY BEERFEST! Not many beers hold that acclaim so this is probably better than a gold at the Great American Beer Festival! Some folks have said too subtle on the raspberry, I think it is spot on. I get the perfect amount which makes this perfect for dessert or dare I say, another breakfast beer?

**Confluence Ayana’s Rhino Rye Double IPA** – I hadn’t heard anything about this beer but confluencewas able to get one at 30hop in Coralville. Juicy hops shine in this beer with the rye and malt adding a nice balance to this brew. I want to try more Confluence brews and I need to get to the brewery, these guys are doing things right and it show!

big grove**Big Grove Anniversary Double IPA** – brewed for their 1 year anniversary you would think I enjoyed this brew at the brewery, but no! I found myself sitting in my lovely town of Mt. Vernon at Chameleon’s Pub and Grub when I notice a Big Grove tap handle. What beer is it? I asked. Their anniversary double ipa, was the response. After I climbed back into my seat after falling over I began to order 1, then 2, then 3, and then slowly stagger to the door. LOVED THIS BREW! A recent tweet from Big Grove suggests another Double IPA tapping for tonight (New Year’s Eve)! Call me a homer, but Bill and crew at Big Grove are kicking out some the best tasting and most creative beers in Iowa, and for that I am thankful!

Thoughts? Let me know your list!

Iowa Breweries Gift Giving Guide 2014

santaDid everyone survive Bourbon County day?! We can now get back to a little normalcy in the beer world. Hope Thanksgiving went well and everyone drank some tasty brews but now it’s on to Christmas! And what better way to show someone you love them than with some great Iowa beer and apparel! (I was going to use the word swag but I think I’m too old). Below is a list I’ve compiled with the help of some great Iowa breweries of items that they have for sale. I’m a sucker for glassware and shirts from breweries so this stuff is right up my alley. The links that follow should take you to each breweries store, please let me know if a link is not working.

millstreamMillstream Brewing Company – Amana, IA:
*Clothing – shirts and hats ranging anywhere from $10-$50
*Glassware – pint glasses to growlers from $4.25 – $35.
*Miscellaneous – signs, koozies, coasters and more!
Baron’s pick: The new Millstream tshirts are pretty sweet and a good price at $17.50, but I think their old school metal sign is the way to go especially if you have a nice little Beer Cave to hang it in. Sign clocks in at $15.70.
http://shop.millstreambrewing.com/

firetruckerFiretrucker Brewery РAnkeny, IA: 

*Clothing – this upstart brewery has 2 t-shirts, a sweatshirt and kick-ass looking biking t-shirt to choose from ranging from $25-$135.
*Glassware – a 16 oz pint glass with their sweet looking logo at $12.
*Miscellaneous – stickers and coasters from $2-$5.
Baron’s pick: Going with the sweatshirt for $55 and the pint glass for $12. Love the logo on both, especially with a nice stout poured behind it.
http://www.firetrucker.com/swag.php

singlespeedSinglespeed Brewery – Cedar Falls, IA:Shamefully I haven’t been to Singlespeed yet, but I’ve heard great things are happening in Cedar Falls. My New Year’s Resolution is to drink more at all Iowa Breweries! ūüôā
*Clothing – t-shirts, hoodies, and brewers shirts ranging from $20-$50.
*Glassware – pub glasses, flasks, growlers ranging from $6-$60.
*Miscellaneous – gifts cards and bottle openers.
Baron’s pick:¬†The beer glasses. Gift cards are available in any¬†amount as well.
http://www.singlespeedbrewing.com/gear/default.aspx

lion bridgeLion Bridge Brewery – Cedar Rapids, IA: A spot you can probably find me at on any given weekend. So thankful that they have opened up so close to home. Along with great beer the food is damn good as well (pork nachos anyone?).
*Clothing – t-shirts ranging in color. Nothing on the website yet but they do have a little shop setup in the brewery. I believe I got the last powder blue and red!
*Glassware – If you are a beer glass junkie like myself Lion Bridge can set you up. Taster glasses, pint glasses, snifters, etc. All there, all for sale…I believe. Along with growlers and meowlers.
*Miscellaneous – CSA. Their community sponsored ales program. A one time fee gets you discounts, a t-shirt, growler, 1st growler fill, and growler fills on speciality beers all for $80 I believe.
Baron’s Pick: Well, I’ve already picked up a shirt, glasses, and the CSA will be joined soon. So I guess I’ll recommend all three!

515515 Brewing – Clive, IA –¬†Anytime I’m in the Des Moines area I make a stop at 515. Love the people here, love the atmosphere and love the beer! No online shop as of now but stop in and have a pint and grab something to take home with you.
*Clothing – last time I was there they had 3 different t-shirts to choose from. I got a sweet looking gray with the logo on it.
*Glassware – I vaguely remember a few different glasses to choose from. I bought a nice snifter, perfect for a nice stout or porter!
Baron’s Pick: – Love the t-shirt I own and my snifter, I highly recommend!

toppling goliath Toppling Goliath РDecorah, IA РArguably the most recognized Iowa brewery has some really cool gear to pick up. I recently picked up a King Sue Teku glass (now kicking myself in the ass for not getting an Assassin Teku as well).
*Clothing – t-shirts, sweatshirts, a nice little pseudosue pack consisting of a hat, shirt, and two coasters.
*Glassware – well, the King Sue and Assassin Tekus rock the shit. Got one, want more. They also have pint glasses, chalices, snifters, with not just the TG logo, but their specific beer logos.
*Miscellaneous – openers, stickers, and coasters.
Baron’s Choice – The Teku is the obvious choice for me. These are awesome!

www.tgbrews.wazala.com

confluenceConfluence Brewing – Des Moines, IA – Confluence keeps rolling out some excellent brews. Really enjoyed Ayana’s Rhino Rye and hope to see it again in the future!
*Clothing -They have sweatshirts, bike jerseys, T’s and other apparel.
*Glassware – 64 oz and 32 oz growlers.
*Baron’s Choice – pick up a t-shirt. I’m not sure what color scheme they have as they don’t currently have an online store, but give them a call or drop them an email.¬†http://www.confluencebrewing.com/

peace treePeace Tree Brewing – Knoxville, IA – Another brewery making big splashes is Peace Tree. Located in Knoxville, this brewery has some really sweet looking apparel and other offerings.
*Clothing – t-shirts and bicycle shirts ranging from $15-$75.
*Glassware – awesome looking glassware and even a cool pint glass and opener set.
*Miscellaneous – bottle caps, openers, patches, labels and more.
*Baron’s Choice – I love the Peace Tree Beanie found here:http://store.peacetreebrewing.com/ProductDetails.asp?ProductCode=0001013. Added to my wishlist!

big groveBig Grove Brewery – Solon, IA – nothing has been hotter than Big Grove in Solon. With the amount of attention and recognition they get you’d think they would have been open for years, but it’s only been one! So much good things being created here both beer and food wise, makes this another frequent destination of the Baron.
*Clothing – upon walking in on my last visit I saw the wall to my left had new Big Grove t-shirts made by Tailgate Clothing company! Wonderfully comfortable shirts that always look great. I will be adding all three to my collection.
*Glassware – growlers and the last I was there they still had a few 1 year anniversary tulip glasses for sale. Awesome glasses, highly recommended!
Baron’s Choice – I must own the shirts! They are awesome! You will not be disappointed! Check them out on your next visit. I have 1 year anniversary glass that I great like it’s one of my own children and a growler that I fill frequently! All great stuff!

 

**This holiday, support your local brewery. The above are a few of the wonderful places we are lucky enough to have in our state. I assume most places have gift cards available as well. Below is a link to the complete list of Iowa breweries, find one near you, go there, drink beer, and buy some shit!**

http://www.midwestmicrobrews.com/iowa.html

Blackstone Restaurant + Confluence Brewery One Night Stand; Friday, August 29th

CBC_14_SocialMedia_BlackstoneBlackStone Restaurant & Confluence Brewery

One Night Stand
1 brewery, 1 night
Friday August 29th, 4:00 PM
 
Draft lineup:
Des Moines IPA 
Capitol Gold Lager / Blue Corn Lager to follow
Thomas Beck Black IPA 
Weiss grip Hefeweizen – last keg of this limited hefe
Port Barrel Aged Camp Fire  
Cedar Ridge Barrel Aged Milk Man Stout – aging since last year
Mayday Mayday Maibock 
Barley & Me Pale Ale 
Farmer Johns Wheat 
Rock Dodger Double IPA Рlast keg of this DIPA 
 
 
Entrée Specials 
 
Grilled Sausage Stacks 
Skewers of Italian sausage, pearl onions & herb cheese stuffed peppers with arugula, spicy mustard & sweet onion vinaigrette 
Brisket Sandwich 
Fire braised beef brisket, horseradish slaw, pickled onions, brioche bun 
 
Port Aged Beef Tenderloin 
Wild mushrooms, port aged smoky black lager, broccolini & a sherry compote butter
 
Beer Battered Apple Rings 
Granny smith apples, dark porter jelly caramel, powdered sugar 
 
Draft beer flights will also be available as well as some beer schwag, t shirts, prizes and more. 
 
Upcoming One Night Stands
 
Goose Island – 9/19 – Bourbon County variants…
Founders Brewing, Part Three – 10/10 – stout season is approaching..
 
Cheers to great food and tasty brews!

 

Cold Beer and Hot Dogs

blackstoneThere has to be something to get everyone through this awful winter we are having. Whether it’s looking forward to March Madness, cutting the grass, baseball season, or anything to get outside for a while and enjoy some rays, most of us are getting burnt out on these temps. Luckily, Blackstone restaurant in Iowa City comes up with a nice little concept that got me to think spring and also let me enjoy some new terrific Iowa brewed beers.

photo (5)A good hot dog to pair with a terrific beer or two is tough to beat. Blackstone put a couple gourmet hot dogs on their menu this past Thursday night to go along with some Iowa brewed beer and they hit a home run with it. The majority of the excitement was centered around Toppling Goliath releasing their King Sue. For those who don’t know King Sue is double citra IPA.

I decided to go with the ‚ÄúHop Dog‚ÄĚ, which was an all-beef dog, photo (6)caramelized onions, cheddar cheese, hop mustard, and house made pickled jalape√Īos and wasn‚Äôt disappointed. Terrific dog, and the recommended beer pairing was King Sue, times two of those for me and we are having a great evening.

photo (7) Kids were enjoying their meals, wife enjoying hers, King Sue was flowing great but I really had my eye on the Confluence Milk Man stout which was on nitro. Decided to go with it, and was glad I did. This is one of the best stouts I’ve had in a while and nitro makes it all the better.

I love these events, food and beer pairings, thinking outside the box a bit and Blackstone does a great job of this. This was a busy beer week in corridor, the Big Grove/Confluence collab was released, Reds Alehouse getting Central Waters, and this event at Blackstone. With two kids I have to pick and choose, although I wish I would have made it to all three.

 

These events are a welcome site and it’s exciting seeing people gather for good food and craft beer!

Iowa Beer Review #108: Confluence Brewing Des Moines IPA

des moines ipaAs the state of Iowa starts getting more breweries opening up and more breweries bringing their beer from outside states in, the competition for shelf space becomes harder and harder. Luckily, there are a bunch of Iowa breweries holding their own in the craft beer world, and one of those is Confluence Brewing Company (www.confluencebrewing.com). Located in Des Moines, Confluence is right in the middle of the ever-expanding craft beer movement with the likes of Exile, Raccoon River, Court Avenue, and 515. From the brewery:

As the capital of Iowa, Des Moines constantly surprises first-time visitors with its mix of expected agrarian heritage and influences and unanticipated cosmopolitan flare. So too, with Des Moines IPA, an American take on a world beer: India Pale Ale (IPA). Iowa’s steady, well balanced nature is reflected in this IPA with its mix of medium body, lighter color and plenty of malt flavor to balance the massive hop impact. Citrusy and piney hops from the Pacific Northwest offset the robust malt flavor of the two-row barley and medium crystal malts. Des Moines IPA proudly represents the Hawkeye State in the category of American IPA, a favorite of beer connoisseurs all across the country.

As I finished my shopping at the downtown Cedar Rapids farmer’s market, I decided to hit up Benz Beverage Depot to grab a few brews. As much as I would love to see Confluence come in six packs, I think the quart bottles kick ass. A unique, refreshing look that stands out on the shelves, and that is what sucked me in.

confluence quartsI’ve heard mention of their Des Moines IPA from people of twitter and facebook, so that’s what I decided my first Confluence beer would be. Upon returning back home, I sat on my deck, opened up the quart jug and shared with my brother-in-law. Not knowing what to expect, the first impression that I got was the tropical fruit aroma that made way into the wonderful bitter, pineapple taste. The quart didn’t last long, and we both were really impressed at the balance and drinkability this beer presented.

I haven’t had any other offerings from Confluence yet, but if their IPA is a sign of their other offerings, I think it’s safe to say that this brewery can be a major playing the craft beer game, I’m just trying to figure out a time to visit the brewery to see what else they have in store. Awesome beer as the Hawkeye state slowly continues to find its niche in the craft beer world! Find this beer and enjoy!

REVIEW

STYLE: IPA

ABV: 6.8%

PURCHASED AT: Benz Beverage Depot; Cedar Rapids

POUR: Hazy yellow, thick white head

AROMA: Tropical fruit aroma is clear, as well as the hop presence.

TASTE: Pineapple shines and is rounded out nicely by the hops and malts.

Ratebeer.com rating: 81

Beeradvocate raing: N/A

Overall: B+

My recommendation: Very impressive offering and happy that this is an Iowa brewed beer. Get out and buy a quart, support the state, and get yourself a fantastic beer!

 

Confluence Brewing Keg Tapping Event

confluenceConfluence Brewing will be holding a keg tapping for their latest beer, May day May day Maibock at the brewery May 1st, starting at 5:00! Check it out! Here’s the press release from the brewery:

MAY DAY MAY DAY…its time for yet another tapping of the GOLDEN KEG! Its time to move this crummy cold and chilly spring-time weather out of Iowa so we can enjoy our latest refreshing beer…MayDay¬† MayDay Maibock!. The tapping will start at 6PM on May 1st!

Tickets for a $2.00 pints from the Golden Keg go on sale at 5:00
p.m. (limit one ticket per person).
 

After the Golden Keg “kicks”, pints of MayDay MayDay¬†Maibock will be sold
all evening for $3.50! Also new growlers of MayDay MayDay Maibock and refills of MayDay Maibock will be $2.00 off all night!