Big Grove Releases List of Sour Beers for Sept. 14th Beer Dinner

big groveWow! This sounds like it’s going to be another terrific night at Big Grove and the dinner menu hasn’t even been released! Abu Nawas is bringing some heavy-hitters go along with what Bill, Rabbit, and T are dishing out from the brewery. Here’s the release:

Sour Dinner Release

Big Grove Brewery Richard the Whale Release Schedule and Tasting Notes

big grove


Here’s what we’ve been waiting for! The Big Grove Brewery Richard the Whale Release information big groveand tasting notes. The regular Richard the Whale was absolutely delicious and these variants are sounding amazing as well! I hope everyone gets a taste of what a great local Iowa brewery can do with dedicated brewers and staff. Cheers to Big Grove and I hope to see you at the 2nd Anniversary party!

Big Grove Brewery Thirsty happens.™ Richard the Whale Tasting Notes and Release Schedule

Click the link below to open up the PDF file to check the schedule! 

Richard the Whale Release Info (1)

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:

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:

*Another Road
*Deb’s Brewtopia
*Green Flash
*Goose Island
*Great River
*Franklin Street
*Lion Bridge
*Old Man River
*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!

Local Breweries and Restaurants Make Me Happy

Within the last 2 weeks I’ve been to quite a few local restaurants and breweries. Granted, I practically live in these places but lately I continue to be blow away with what these brilliant minds are doing. Let me start with what I love…the beer. The sweet, the hoppy, the malty, the chocolatey, the coffeey?, just beer.

third baseMy wife I headed to 3rd Base Brewing in Cedar Rapids to meet her bro-in-law and his family for a meal. I’m not going to lie, they had Abrasive on tap, and it was delicious. But, after my Abrasive, their Cobra coffee oatmeal stout caught my eye, and then after the first one, caught my taste buds again. A fantastic stout, wonderful for the coffee lover, wonderful for the stout lover, wonderful for the beer lover. 3rd Base has become a staple, a mainstay, a frequently attended spot for the Baron and family. Why? I get great beer, excellent food, and the best thing, I can take my kids.

lion bridgeOnto my next destination. Lion Bridge. Now, Quinton and Alec probably get sick of seeing my mug at this place. I probably should just rent an apartment nearby. I live 13 minutes and 36 seconds away from Lion Bridge and depending on my aggressiveness, can get their a bit sooner. Yellow light means speed up, correct? Anyway, the beer they brewed for St Pats and St. Joseph’s Day, the Olde No. 17 could easily replace Guinness as my go to green holiday stout. In fact, it should be go to year round stout. Brewed with potatoes to give it more dryness, this beer is what I picture people enjoying at the classic pubs across Ireland for years, now turns into what people enjoying at pubs/breweries in IOWA enjoying for years to come. Excellent stuff. And, once you finish that, I hope you have/had the opportunity to try a GAZPROM! and the collab Mellowdrama. All terrific!

big groveOff to Big Grove in Solon I go. Since opening close to two years ago I’ve spent more time at this establishment than I have at my workplace. Ok, a bit far-fetched, but seriously, I’m here alot. And why not? Another 11 minute and 24 second trip from door to door, being able to talk to the brewery, talk to the restaurant manager, talk to the manager, and at times enjoy beers with them. With their latest and greatest beer, Bill and company have hit one out of the park. The first ever, Iowa-brewed, Triple IPA. And like most of the things these folks do, there’s a terrific cause behind it. This brew benefits the Lymphoma and Leukemia Society of Eastern Iowa. The beer is the smoothest of all triple IPAs I’ve ever had and most doubles as well. I believe it checks in at 11.4%, but the booze is hidden remarkably well, making this dangerous so damn drinkable.

Onto the grub. All three of the above have terrific menus. Some are the basic bar/pub fare, some are locally sourced, some are unique and artisanal. All are amazing. Chef Ben Smart at Big Grove puts out some the best food in the area, his Beer Dinners are becoming legendary and their not even 2 years old yet! Now, onto my town. Mount Vernon, Iowa. Smaller college town that has 2 options I think can satisfy both beer and food. 1st place is Chameleon’s Pub and Grub. Nick and company continue to get craft beer on tap, pushing the envelope in a small town for craft beer can be very difficult. He’s working his ass off to do it. Lion Bridge, Big Grove, Exile, Kona, Summit all on tap, with Stone, Green Flash, Sam Adams, Founds coming in bottles. Get yourself a bacon, bleu-cheese burger, a local brew and sit back and enjoy and comfortable atmosphere.

lincolnThe next stop is Lincoln Wine Bar. A once, sometimes twice, sometimes three times a week stop for the Baron household is pushing out wood fired pizzas with nightly specials using locally sourced ingredients. All the pizzas I’ve ever had have been terrific. The last one being a goat cheese, shrimp, and jalapeno, pie of perfection. I just met Jesse (sp?) for the first time on my last stop. He had a full selection of new-to-Iowa Surly Beers which go excellent with their terrific pizzas. Not only Surly, but a excellent bottle list for such a small-spaced pizzeria. Not to mention, he also kicked out a Prairie Apple Brandy-Noir. Does he want draft lines? Absolutely. Right now the space is too tight but I think this guy is going to make it work one way or the other.

Okay, that’s too much typing for me. Time for a brew. The good news is, tons of people know about and support these places, the better news is, I think it’s only going to get better. Cheers!

Restaurant Review: QDogs BBQ Company; Marion, IA

q dogsA BBQ restaurant 15 minutes from my door? YES PLEASE! I crave BBQ very often, and yes, I dabble in it at home and most of the time I can kick out some pretty decent food. But when you get a place like Q Dogs ( who put in the time to make consistent and fantastic BBQ, my choice to cook or go out is made much simpler. When you walk into a BBQ joint for the first time you aren’t sure if you are going to get the paper plate/picnic table style or like Q Dogs, a spotless, clean, a spacious restaurant.

You are greeted right away by a hostess who helped guide me through the menu. For my first trip I went with the basic pulled pork sandwich, brisket sandwich, and the kids got a pulled pork slider. The sides were fries dusted with their BBQ dry rub, smoked cheesy potatoes, and coleslaw. The brisket was thick and juicy with tons of flavor. The pork had just the right amount of smoke, not to overwhelming, just the perfect amount, and it was extra tasty with a bit of their homemade spicy BBQ sauce. A first trip that lead to a second:

For the second go ’round I came home with half rack of ribs, pulled pork with coleslaw (called the Q Dog), and some BBQ nachos for the kids. The ribs were meaty, smoked perfectly, and the dry rub and with just a tad bit of sauce made me craving these the next day as well. The Q Dog sandwich was terrific. Tons of pork piled on a bun with sauce and apple cider slaw. The BBQ nachos are piled with pulled pork, nacho cheese, BBQ sauce, and sliced pickled jalapeños. Another successful trip that will lead to a third soon.

Talking with the staff the meats are smoked for at least 20 hours at a low temp. Beer on tap had your basic swill but also some Lagunitas IPA, Great River Milk Stout, and Sam Adams line, and also Little Sumpin’ Sumpin’ in bottles. Not bad , and it seems like they are open to having more craft as well.

Overall, a must try for BBQ fans looking to scratch that savory, smoky, itch. Check out their website for their menu here:

Mellow Mushroom Pizza and Beer Coming to Coral Ridge Mall

mellowI noticed a big sign where the former Bennigan’s used to be at Coral Ridge Mall advertising that the Mellow Mushroom will be opening in that location in the future. Mellow Mushroom offers “southern style” pizza and also a beer club which sounds very similar to Old Chicago’s beer club. They advertise 100 beers 64 on tap? I believe. That number might be a bit off. Here’s a link to their menu:

Coralville Brrr Fest Set for January 24th!



Save the Date!
When: Saturday, January 24, 2015
Where: Coralville Marriott Hotel & Conference Center
Time: 1:00pm – 4:00pm 
The time has come to start making your plans for BrrrFest 2015! Once again, BrrrFest will feature amazing breweries from across Iowa and the Midwest. 
Continuing this year, BrrrFest beer lovers will have the opportunity to buy bottles of the beers they love most. That’s right. BrrrFest will be selling beer from select breweries including some limited release* offerings that are very hard to come by. You’ll be able to take BrrrFest home with you for the second year – awesome! *A working list of beer available for purchase will be available on the BrrrFest website soon. 
Ticket Information:
Regular Entry*: $30
*Includes tasting glass
Brew Master (limited number available)**: $45
**Includes special tasting glass and early admission (12pm)
Tickets go on sale online on BLACK FRIDAY (November 28, 2014) and will soon be available in person (we will send out another note soon to let you know).
We have sold out every year so don’t delay. The Black Friday release is a less than subtle message… BrrrFest tickets make great gifts! Make sure you get yours early. Remember, proceeds from the event benefit Coralville 4th Fest and the Iowa Brewers Guild… so you are enjoying brew’s for a few great causes! Thank you in advance for your support.

Guest Review: sLim Reviews Firetrucker Brewery; Ankeny, IA


I had long heard we were finally getting a brewery right here in my city of residence, Ankeny. Firetrucker Brewery opened in the uptown part of town back on July 4th and they’ve made quite a splash. My first experience with their beers was tasting their Steam Engine at my workplace, El Bait Shop. It is a crisp, refreshing lager that just has enough hop flavor to get your attention. While not having tried most of them myself, their beers appeared to be selling well and were accepted by the bait shop clientele.

fire2I did some research on the company before visiting their taproom. They brew inside of an old fire station in Ankeny. It’s in an older, residential part of town. There definitely appears to be a very talented graphic artist on their staff as their website and logo designs are unique and visually appealing. This does not come as a surprise as the brewery is heavily influenced by art, and believes that beer is art itself. 

As I entered, I was greeted by a very aesthetically pleasing taproom and lounge area. There are traditional restaurant style tables, sofas, and high top tables for whatever kind of social experience you’re going for. Upon walking up to the bar, you’ll notice a cool backdrop of barrels and other brewing equipment that gives off the impression that you’re right in the middle of the brewing process, a staple of any good taproom. You can also take growlers (32 & 64oz) home with you if you want to enjoy their fine ales away from their locale

Onto the beers, as is the tradition whenever I visit a brewery for the first time, a purchase of a flight was in order. They had 6 of their own beers on tap (including a 4% ABV ginger beer). $6 lets you try any four. I decided to go with the 2alarm (imperial red), burnout brown, pumper truck porter, and the steam engine (California common). It was a tie between the 2 alarm (4/5) and the burnout brown (4/5) for my favorites. I did not realize the 2 alarm was imperial until after a staff member informed me of this. I highly recommend giving this a try, it’s a very satisfying red. I imagine the burnout brown will be my go-to whenever visiting this brewery. There’s a toffee flavor to it and it’s an extremely sessionable American brown ale at a mere 5%. Despite its low ABV, there still enough body and malt to the taste as well.

The steam engine is a respectable effort for a California Common (3.5/5). I’m not overly crazy about this style of beer but I think it’s cool that they tried something that no other local brewery has tried yet. This is just my opinion on it, I’ve noticed it’s become very popular around town so it’s definitely worth giving a try. The pumper truck porter was a satisfying drink (3.5/5). My only knock on it was that I didn’t pick up anything else besides a thick, roasty flavor. I would get this beer again, however.

They do offer an IPA, uptown, which is an easy drinking, sessionable ipa.

The staff was very helpful. I didn’t get a chance to talk to any of the brewers but all of the workers present were plenty knowledgeable on the beers themselves. They allow you to bring food in and also have different food ordering options depending on what day of the week it is. If you look at the events section on their website, you’ll notice there’s a variety of functions going down at this brewery, including live music sets.

Firetrucker is a very welcome addition to Central Iowa and Iowa Brewers alike. I’m highly impressed with how well put-together their entire operation is. They’ve set the bar high for themselves and have an excellent vision. They have already made a big mark on the beer scene here in Des Moines and I look forward to seeing what else they can accomplish.

Big Grove Brewery’s Bitchin Birthday Bash Details!

big groveIn late August the town of Solon will be flooded with beer lovers for almost one whole week as Big Grove Brewery celebrates their 1 year anniversary with an array of fantastic brews and some unique and wonderful food. I just came from the brewery and picked up a release brochure and here is what is planned, I wish I could make all events but if you are going drop me a line and I would love to meet up for a brew or 10. Here we go!

Tuesday, August 26 @ 6pm

“Cry Havoc! and Let Slip the Hos of War.”

$50 tickets (tax and tip included)

Carnitas tacos made from a whole roasted hog served with house made salsas and accoutrements. Preview ALL special release beers! Includes one 1/6 bbl each and all you can eat/drink. Only 50 seats available.


Wednesday, August 27 @ 6 pm

“All Hops, All the Thai’m”

$29 tickets (tax and tip included)

That BBQ buffet and full flight of DIPAs, Bell’s Hopsolution and a selection from Lagunitas.


Thursday, August 28

“Acid Funk”

Sour beer highlights with HotRod Lincoln performing on the patio. Tapping BGB young sour peach.


Friday, August 29

“The Pin is Mightier…”

BGB and Summit casks on the bar. 3 pm tappings.


Saturday, August 30

“Hawks Host Panthers, Big Grove Hosts Single Speed.”

A taste of Cedar Falls for the Hawkeye opener.


Sunday, August 31

“Aging Gracefully”

We’re taking over Iowa Street for a barrel aged beer release day, with live music. Sepher will be manning the outside grill for Persian Kabobs and housemade pita.


For more info check out Big Grove Brewery on Facebook for follow them on twitter. An exciting week that I can only hope I can be a small part of! Cheers!

Beer Tasting w/ a Brewer at 515 Brewing; Clive, IA 8/3/14

515I’ve had the pleasure of going to 515 Brewing in Clive, IA a handful of times. Sure, I wish I was closer, (or they were), so I could frequent more often, but these folks are what make craft beer great. I was just sitting enjoying a few brews with friends when owner/brewer Dave Ropte sat down and talked to us about all things beer for a good hour. It was great. Informative, honest, and just a pleasant experience. I highly recommend anyone who is the the Des Moines area on August 3 to check this event out. Their beer is terrific and the folks are even better! Here’s more from 515’s Facebook page:

Join us for a brewer-led beer tasting this Sunday. Purchase a brewer-designated beer flight between 1:30 – 2p with the tasting starting at 2p. (4-5oz pours for $8). Our brewers will talk about each selected beer and answer any questions you have about the beer or the brewery.

Visit their Facebook page for more or follow them on Twitter: