Iowa Brew News: Big Grove, Contrary, Thew, Lion Bridge, SingleSpeed, Backpocket, Barntown, and more!

cherry pe.jpgTons of news tidbits from the past week to pass along to beer lovers. Iowa brewers have been busy with new releases, canning lines, and getting their beer to our shelves. So much great stuff out there to drink right now, get out there and support local breweries! Next Saturday (June 30th) is packed with beer releases! Big Grove, Barn Town, and Thew all will be doing bottle releases. Huge beer day in Iowa!

**Big Grove Brewery**– Big Grove has just announced that next Saturday (June 30th) they will be releasing bottles of Cherry Pie, a berliner weisse beer with tart cherries, lactose, and spices that is part of their Sugar Bottom Series. Both locations will have bottles, limit 6 per person, and a bit on tap. Make sure you check it out!

**Lion Bridge** – Lion Bridge keeps kicking out beers with the release of 380 South and Majestic Beast this week. 380 South is a collab with SingleSpeed (who did 380 North), and is a hazy IPA brewed with guava. Here’s more on these beers from Lion Bridge:

Lion Bridge and SingleSpeed are connected by more than a highway, and while we may not be mirror images of one another, the commonalities between the two of us are certainly worth noting. Both organizations are passionate about: community, historical preservation, authenticity, and of course, perhaps above all, the creation of great beer.

380 South sits as one half of what is a truly unique collaborative experiment. This hazy, single-hop Denali Pale Ale was crafted at Lion Bridge Brewing in Cedar Rapids, using the same grain and hops as 3-Eighty North, crafted at SingleSpeed Brewing in Waterloo. The only differences were the yeast, water and the fruit added. 380 South features guava, while 3-Eighty North features mango puree. A side by side tasting of the two sister brews is highly recommended.

majesticbeast.jpg

The other Lion Bridge release is a re-release of Majestic Beast. One of my personal favorites. Here’s more on this brew courtesy of Lion Bridge:

This mirthful beverage was dry-hopped with Mosaic Lupulin Powder, as well as a bit of Simcoe and Eukanot. By using hop powder with the green plant material removed, we are dry-hopping a concentrated version of the aromatic oils found in the hops. Resinous and tropical; potent yet graceful. It may just bring a tear to your eye.

contrary.jpg**Contrary Brewing** – heading over to Muscatine and Contrary Brewing company as they continue their line of Milkshake IPAs with a perfectly timed Bomb Pop Milkshake IPA. Here’s more on this brew courtesy of Contrary:

Next in our series of Milkshake IPA is the Bomb Pop! We combined raspberry purée, blueberry purée and lemonade with milk sugar, vanilla and hops. Summer is here! See you soon.

DgDc-kkUwAICgGM**SingleSpeed Brewing ** – everyone knows by know that SingleSpeed cans have it the market. Victory Dance, Ring Around the Gose, Tricycle, and Tip the Cow are all available so if you haven’t gotten some, this is the perfect weekend to grab a couple of sixers!

**Backpocket Brewing** – a widely anticipated release is on the horizon as Backpocket as announced the release of their 6th Anniversary barrel-aged stout. July 7th is the date, mark it on the calendar, make a day of it!

backpocket.jpg

**Thew Brewing ** – the new kid on the block is going to start bottling soon as Thew Brewing in Cedar Rapids has announced for June 30th. Two amazing sounding stouts and other releases for the day. $50 gets you food and 2 12 oz bottles of their stouts. More below:

thew brewing.jpg

 

**Barn Town Brewing ** – Barn Town keeps pumping out the releases with another announcement of a guava berliner weisse and a sour IPA. More below:

Barn Town.jpg

 

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!

Best of Iowa Beers (Part 1 of 2)

beerbaronWith another year coming to an end it’s time to get to the “Best of” Iowa beers in 2017. It was a terrific year for our state and this year for my list (and opinions) I’ve done just strictly Iowa brewed beers whereas in the past I did beers that are on Eastern Iowa shelves along with Iowa beers. To get the list down to 10 was difficult and I had to drink many beers to get through such a dilemma.

Now, I must say, I haven’t been able to get to Central and Western Iowa as much as I would have liked so you will see this list filled predominantly with beers brewed in Eastern Iowa. I wish I could get more or any 515, Barn Town, Marto, etc…but it’s not in the cards. Hopefully with the new year we see some more Iowa beers from Central and Western Iowa trickle into our tap lines. So, once again, I just want to note that there are MANY beers I haven’t tried, I don’t want to cause I shit storm (RIP Lahey), but hopefully the new year brings me new beer.

Alright, my criteria:
1. It has to be a beer I haven’t had before.
2. Seasonal and annual releases may fluctuate in ingredients but I do not count them if I have had it the previous year.
3. Iowa brewed only

Without further ado, here is part one of two, in no particular order of the best Iowa beers in 2017 (according to me).

fire skulls**Toppling Goliath – Fire, Skulls, and Money – I was deciding between this and Supa Sumo and the deciding factor was how much of this beer I’ve bought. Price was a little steeper than some TG releases but worth it for this brew. I believe this was their take/rendition of a West Coast style IPA.  I found it to be less bitter than many west coast styles with an excellent citra punch. Could easily have two of this brewin a sitting. I’ve seen some bottles around yet and had one last weekend. Tastes great, go grab some!
The Deets:

7% ABV
Inspired by a trip to the West Coast, designed to capture the wild spirit of adventure and brewed to be enjoyed with friends. This rich IPA is for those with wanderlust in their heart and fire in their eyes. Join our Citra, Mosaic, Galaxy and Nelson Hops on a journey to the bottom of your glass

coconut.png**SingleSpeed Coconut Migration – My beer of the summer. The first time I had it was sample at Need Pizza, my wife got a whole pint but I was a bit apprehensive, wasn’t sure the pina colada thing would fly in an IPA. Took a sip…was hooked. Sought it out all summer and ended up back and Need and the Map Room quite often hammering a few of these. Give me this poolside or beachside and I’m in heaven. I’m not sure if this is year round or not but I’ve been seeing it a little more often. If you dig Pina Coladas and you’re a hophead, this is the beer for you.
The Deets:

7.4% ABV

75 IBU
American Double IPA, rested on toasted coconut
A Pulpit Rock Brewing Co. (Decorah, IA) / SingleSpeed Brewing Co. Collaboration Brewing with the guys from Pulpit Rock is like taking a vacation. This time around our destination is the tropics. If you like Piña Coladas and/or getting caught in the rain you’re probably gonna be feeling this beer. If you don’t like either of those things, well that sucks for you. We still recommend ordering one.

richard.jpg**Big Grove Jean Luc Richard – The first time I had this I thought maybe the setting of the event I was at played into how much I loved it, and it may have a bit, but I’ve had since the Kroul Farm’s dinner and it is still a spectacular beer. Like many barrel-aged stouts, the flavor in this one shines as it warms and the creme brulee flavors take shape even more. Is it considered “dick swinging” if I brag about how I’m the number 1 drinker of this brew on untappd, or is that just a pathetic brag? Oh well. Not sure how often Big Grove will be kicking this bad boy out, but if you see, go after it!
The Deets:

10.5% ABV
Barrel aged imperial stout with vanilla beans, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Inspired by crème brûlèe.

dangler.jpg**Lion Bridge Dangler – another awesome Iowa brewed IPA made it’s debut this past summer and was a hit with many. Lower on the ABV than some IPAs, which is not a bad thing, made for an extremely drinkable IPA with all the tropical and citrus flavors you expect from a great IPA. Lion Bridge continues to make excellent beers in many different styles. One of my favorite places to go for a drink and bite to eat in Eastern Iowa. Also, their nachos and fries with the lemon aioli are fantastic.
The Deets:

5.9%
Pair Mosaic, Simcoe, and Idaho 7 hops with a fruit-forward yeast and a malt profile full of wheat and oats, and the result is a juice bomb full of creamy mango and orange flavors.

kickshaw**Kickshaw Vidi – Even though Bill has moved on to other things (fingers crossed he brews again), this beer blows me away every time I have it. Bottles may not have strayed too far away from Eastern Iowa, I’m happily sitting on a few, but if you come across one, you need to give it a try. Of course, it’s not an IPA or barrel-aged stout, but a wonderful golden ale/saison with greatness from the brett. You like sours and saisons, then you would enjoy this.

Alright, there’s the first five. Five more to come next week. I would love to know your favorites of the year! Cheers to all the Iowa breweries and brewers out there; your hard work and dedication is greatly appreciated!

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!

coffee kolsch.jpg

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!

 

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!

 

Former Big Grove Brewer Bill Heinrich Presents Kickshaw Barrel Works

barrelSome big news coming locally today as former Big Grove brewer, Bill Heinrich, has announced that he is starting up Kickshaw Barrel Works and Lion Bridge Brewery will be the host brewery for Kickshaw Barrel Works which will be a migratory brewery. It sounds like Mr. Heinrich is going to be focusing on sours, so if you like brett and lacto, this is going to be right up your alley! Congrats to Bill on this exciting new venture and I can’t wait to try the results! Here’s Kickshaw Barrel Works exclusive press release:

 Kickshaw Barrel Works
And now, a note to the beer universe:
I don’t know about you, but I love the intersection of sour beer and wood. I have an affinity for the multitude of forms that beer takes at that point, from light to full; soft to sharp; still to effervescent. The Belgian classic acid ales and the American experimental sours have each shown the depth and breadth of great beers that come from barrels and have always held me in awe of what can be created from natural complexity.
So I suppose that’s the starting point: a love of microbes, wood, malt, and hops that yield a complex matrix of acids and alcohols, esters and tannins, execution and presentation that is the world of creating and consuming sour beers. It seemed like an impossible dream to do it on my own, to explore the many techniques and styles while simultaneously bringing them to the people with whom I share this community of beer.
Fortunately for me (possibly for you, too, assuming I can make anything good), Quinton and Ana McClain at LION BRIDGE BREWING COMPANY have been unbelievably gracious in their offer to make theirs the inaugural host brewery for the migratory brewer Kickshaw Barrel Works. Quinton and I have worked together multiple times over the last eight years, and his vision for collaboratively creating this project is the rational anchor for my crazy-assed ideas for barrel fermentation of sour beers.
We will celebrate the formation of this effort with a collaboration brew utilizing the strengths of both Lion Bridge and Kickshaw, as we celebrate the strengths of oak, Brettanomyces, and Lactobacillus. And then it’s off to the races, as we fill Kickshaw barrels with all the experimental microflora and use all the experimental techniques that I can come up with.
Get yourself some antacids, friends, because things are about to get weird.
Santé!
Bill Heinrich
Kickshaw Barrel Works

Baron’s Best of 2015: The Final Chapter

best ofLet’s finish this drug out list off once and for all. With 2015 in the books, 2016 is starting out on a great foot as Lion Bridge’s Barrel-aged January has kicked off and the tapping of Royal Wee is a day away (Wed. 13th). Buster from Big Grove is getting released at the end of the month and Quarter Barrel has opened their doors. Lots of great things in store for Iowa in 2016.

*Big Grove Brewery Desperate Measures – this golden sour big groveale aged in Opus One wine barrels was released along the same time that Richard the Whale was for Big Grove. A well balanced sour that gives you that sour pucker but some fruit sweetness and bit of barrel that help this beer make the list. Would love this for a summer brew too!


nelson.jpeg*Alpine Nelson
– I never had the opportunity to try any Alpine beers prior to Green Flash acquiring them but I’m guessing that Nelson couldn’t have been much better than what we got in bottles…I could be wrong but I really enjoyed this beer. The Nelson Sauvin hop shines in this beer and goes perfectly with the rye malt. Lots of flavor, excellent balance, and extremely drinkable!

lag.jpeg*Lagunitas Born Yesterday – bottled and shipped the very same day? Yes, Lagunitas pulls this one off and the freshness of this beer really showed. Citrus and tropical fruits shine in this 6.5% beer and if it was readily available this would always be in my fridge. I hope Lagunitas releases this one again….so good.

*Lion Bridge Brewery Yard Sale – so happy to see this lion bridgebeer back on tap at Lion Bridge as another citra hop forward brew makes the list. I had this for the 1st time back in May and remember getting two growlers filled after my first taste. Such a great brew.

515*515 Brewing The Basil Protocol – I’m a sucker for a good farmhouse/saison which this beer is, but I admittedly am not the biggest fan of basil. I like it ok, just not a bunch, so when I tried this beer I went in thinking I wouldn’t dig it. I was totally wrong. The basil is there but it meshes so well with the cucumber and pepperiness of the saison to make a wonderfully refreshing beer. Not to mention enjoying it when it was 100 degrees outside…another perfect summertime beer!

firetrucker*Firetrucker Tropical Burn – might be one of the hottest (popular) beers made in Iowa right now and rightfully so. Huge mango and tropical fruits on the nose and on the palate. Galaxy and citra with fresh mangoes makes this a well-balanced double IPA. Very drinkable, but be aware of that 9.1% ABV.

*Big Grove 15 Minuteman – part of the “Citra Triad” release from Big big groveGrove. 15 Minuteman once again showcases the citra hop. Super smooth and refreshing, this is another beer that can get you into trouble because of it’s drinkability. Minuteman and Trident made for a fun couple trips to Big Grove over the holidays!

bells.jpeg*Bells 30th Anniversary Stout – I really loved this beer. It wasn’t barrel-aged but man, this was packed with flavor. Tons of dark chocolate, some dark fruit, and as with many stouts got better as it warmed. I wish I would have the restraint to have aged a couple but I saw them, salivated, drank them.

*Big Grove/3rd Base Que Amarillo – am I homer for Iowa big grovebeers or what? That wasn’t the intention but it’s hard not to be when so many of our local brewers are kicking out great beers and Que Amarillo is one that stood out to me. I could be wrong, but I believe this was brewed with Jim at 3rd Base Brewery…feel free to correct me if I’m wrong. A Berliner-weisse that is hopped to high hell with Amarillo hops. If you don’t like your Berliner-Weisses’ too sour, this one’s for you. Tasty and refreshing. Maybe if I ask Bill and Jim nicely they will keep brewing it?

calling.jpeg*Boulevard The Calling – Boulevard did a major overhaul of their portofolio in 2015 and some where hits and some not so much in my opinion. One beer that they did a great job on was The Calling. I admittedly am not a huge fan of their Single-Wide IPA so when I saw that they were adding a double IPA to their Smokestack 4 pack series I was excited to try it. Oranges and pineapple with a bit pine round out this heavily hopped double.

space.jpeg*Central Waters Space Ghost – an imperial stout that is brewed with ghost peppers. It sounds like a one and done beer as some of these can be overwhelming with heat, but this is beautifully balanced and gives you just enough heat but not overpowering to go along with the richness from the stout.

*Big Grove Famine – I got to pour for Big Grove at an famiineevent in Dubuque last spring. I got to pour Arms Race, IPA, Que Sera, and….FAMINE! What a treat that was. Introducing a community to this beer and to Big Grove was exciting and I would love to do it again. When people asked what it tasted like, Collin (fellow pourer) and I had to take a drink just to remind ourselves how good it was. Part of the Hopocolaypse series this past Spring. I hope to see a return this year as well!