Baron Family Beer Festival Results, Year 9: Big Grove Reigns Supreme!

photo (2).JPGYear 9 of my family’s beer festival is in the books and it was another great year of tasting some excellent brews. The cool thing about our beer festival is that there are many different palates and finding one beer that satisfies all of them can be really tough. Most of the guys prefer IPAs/Saisons/Sours and many of the ladies prefer stouts, porters, and fruit beers.

THE SCORING
Every year it’s a blind tasting. We usually try to break it up throughout the day. Along with it being blind, here’s how we score it:

Appearance /5
Aroma /5
Taste /15
Drinkability /5

So the total is out of 30 with the highest obviously being crowned the champion. Now, I’ve never won, my wife has won 3 times, my brother twice, and even my brother-in-law has a gold medal. What beer could I bring to this beer fest that everyone would enjoy? Nothing says Merry Christmas like a 12% imperial IPA, so at the very least, if I didn’t win I can drown my sorrows and get drunk. Onto the results:

chill clinton8th Place – Exile Chill Clinton Double Hemp Amber – I liked the taste of this beer, I think for most, the aroma was what got this a low score which led to people automatically not enjoying it. My brother-in-laws entry.

 

rover truck.jpeg7th Place – Toppling Goliath Rover Truck Stout – This is an ok stout. I didn’t score it terribly low but out of the two stouts we had this one was missing something. My sister-in-law’s entry.

6th Place – Peace Tree Blonde Fatale – Ipeade tree.jpeg really enjoy this beer and scored it well. I don’t think anyone really disliked it, but I don’t think anyone was in love with it either. My mom’s entry.

stone saison.jpeg5th Place – Stone Saison – a good saison, I enjoyed it, but missing a few things for a top 3 finish. My brother’s entry.

4th Place – Backpocket Wake Up Iowa Stout – a wake up iowavery good showing for Backpocket with this beer. Between the 2 stouts I thought this one had more roasty malts and good coffee flavor compared to the TG stout. My dad’s entry.

nelson3rd Place – Alpine Nelson – loved this brew! This was my 2nd place winner and it just missed out on 2nd place. Lovely addition to our ever-expanding beer options in Iowa. My wife’s entry.

2nd Place – Ballast Point Sculpin – a fresh bottle of sculpin.jpegSculpin is tough to beat and this beer was fresh! Apparently right off the truck and into our glasses and an excellent 1st showing for Ballast Point, this was my brother’s entry and he almost won, except………….THE BARON BROUGHT HIS GAME!

photo (2).JPG1st Place – Big Grove Brewery Trident XII – not only am I thrilled I actually won for once and I didn’t have to sit in the shadow of others for the 9th straight year but I won with an Iowa brewery and a place I pretty much visit every other day. Trident is on point. An excellent brew, and dangerously drinkable. My favorite moment is when tasting this, knowing it was mine, my brother looks down the table and mouths the words: “holy shit” Big Grove has won many awards since they’ve opened, but this has to be one of the better awards they’ve won 🙂 A lovely beer. I have pictures of my celebration but this is a PG site. A win for the Baron!

The wheels are already turning for next year’s beer fest. We’ve decided it will be an all Iowa brewery beer festival which will be great, so the question is, what should I bring next year?

Northside Oktoberfest: A Fall Spectacle

northside octoberfestShamed to say that this year was my first Northside Oktoberfest, but after yesterday, I can safely say that it won’t be my last. The folks at John’s Grocery, the City of Iowa City, all of the brewers and vendors really pulled out all the stops and made yesterday’s event one to remember.

I was lucky enough to get a Brewmaster’sphoto 1 ticket enabling me to take part in the “Real Ale” contest. The setup to get in was wonderfully done as lines were moving at a great pace and no one had to wait too long to get in. Once you get in, the Ale tasting began! 11 breweries were a part of this contest. After tasting each beer, the ticketholders were given a wooden token to put into the basket of whom they considered having the best real ale. Some excellent submissions in this contest as folks from Kalona, Big Grove, Tallgrass, Peace Tree, Confluence and more had beers for this contest. In the end, the winner with their double dry citra-hopped Arms Race Pale Ale was Big Grove Brewery in Solon!

photo 2After the real ale contest you then get to walk up and down the streets trying and tasting tons of beer, wine, soda, ciders, etc. I was very impressed with the amount of room given to this festival and to top it off, in the middle of the festival was a huge seating area, similar to a German Beer Hall, where there was a big screen showing the Iowa v. Wisconsin game! That really helped cap a beautiful Iowa day, as being able to sit, eat, and when you wanted a brew you simply got up and hit whatever tent was calling your name. Watching the Hawks beat Wisconsin was the cherry on the top.

I can’t comment much on the food as I prepared photo (2)myself for lunch at Brix Wine and Cheese Shop but it seems that most of the food that I saw looked delicious. Burgers, brats, pizza, steak sandwiches, it looked like a little bit of everything. Brix was tremendous. Some charcuterie and cheese to pair with Exile’s Raspberry Bohemian beer sure hit the spot.

photo 3So many great brews, so little time! Luckily I found a bunch that kept calling my name throughout the day. Call me a snob, put for a beer festival, I usually avoid hitting the lines where they are pouring out of cans or bottles, unless it’s something very rare to get. I usually stick with who brought some kegs in. The beers that really stood out to me were:

*Big Grove Brewery Que Sera w/ raspberries and honey. This was a blow away beer. The raspberry addition added that perfect amount of fresh fruit flavor and the honey added that sweetness to set off the tartness of this berliner weisse. I kept going back for this one and was very happy I got to try it!

*Lion Bridge Brewery Sorachi LIberace – a heavily hopped Saison using Sorachi Ace hops photo 4and once I had my nose in the glass I got a whiff of juicy fruit bubble gum and the same on the tongue followed by the dry grassiness that a saison gives. This will not be available at the brewery for another week I believe, so to be able to try it was a real treat. Another winner from the 2-time gold medalists at GABF.

*515 Brewing Reaper in the Rye – I could easily put their OJ IPA on here as well but
I’ve had that one before and wish I could have it whenever I wanted but I’ll go with their newer release. This heavily hopped cascadian dark/Black IPA was so good I had to go back for 2nds and then 3rds. The amarillo hops shine and pair nicely with the photo 5 (1)spiciness that the rye brings to the table. An excellent brew!

*Exile Raspberry Bohemian – I missed this at their tent but was informed it was on tap at Brix Wine and Cheese Shop. Luckily, I planned on getting a bite to eat at Brix so that confirmed my decision. A bit sour and tangy with the perfect amount of raspberry. This is a beer that I would love to keep stocked in my fridge. Refreshing and delicious!

*Peace Tree Sour Mash Saison – wasn’t sure what I would think of this one but I really enjoyed it. Very sour and tart but also refreshing and extremely drinkable. Between this and the No Coast citra-hopped Peace Tree really had a great day!

*Firetrucker Resuscitator Doppelbock – goes to show that almost every style of beer was well represented at this beer festival. Firetrucker showcasing a style that I usually don’t go out of my way for but after tasting theirs, I would be more than happy having this in my beer fridge arsenal on a constant basis. Excellent body, malty aroma, and the caramel and nuttiness on the flavor makes this the perfect beer for fall. Give me a slice of pumpkin pie to pair with this beer and I’m in heaven!

Lots of great bottled stuff like Goose Island Bourbon County, some great offerings from Founders, 30th Anniversary by Bells, Silva Stout from Green Flash, and quite a few things from Abu Nawas. A great event that I can’t recommend enough! Looking forward to next years already and I hope to see you there!

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 – Ankeny, 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! 🙂
*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 – Decorah, IA – Arguably 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

Peace Tree Brewing Release Updates

no coastFollowing information comes from http://www.beerpulse.com:

The first new beer to make it to 6-pack form will be our No Coast IPA!

No Coast is the American counterpart to our Hop Wrangler 3 Belgo-style IPA. A variety of pale malts are used to give this beer a nice golden color and let the Amarillo, Citra and Simcoe hops shine through with big piney and citrus notes. It clocks in around 100 IBUs.

No Coast has been brewed and will be making its first appearance in bottles later this month.

The next seasonal brew to appear in 22oz bombers will be Indecision Dark IPA!

Our beer naming sessions find us scouring the dark recesses of our minds for the one perfect title. After a year’s worth of planning and hundreds of possible names for our Dark IPA, we had yet to reach a consensus. What’s in a name? More importantly, “what’s in the beer?” The answer to that is complex dark malts and an abundance of hops. It’s a bold brew with deep flavor and character. We’ll let it speak for itself.

Indecision is 8% ABV and over 100 IBUs.

Indecision has also been brewed and should be making its way into bottles in the near future, as well!

 

 

Peace Tree Hop Sutra Returns

hop sutraThe following is courtesy of beerpulse.com and Peace Tree brewing’s website:

(Knoxville, IA) – Peace Tree Brewing announced this week the upcoming return of Hop Sutra Double IPA and more. Check out the latest via the company’s email newsletter…

We’re currently (pronounced, “anxiously”) awaiting the arrival of our very first centrifuge. A centrifuge is a large piece of equipment that separates solid matter from the beer by spinning as it’s being transferred from the fermenter to the bright tank. This piece of equipment should help us increase our production capacity through higher yields and shorter conditioning periods. Also, the centrifuge should help with product quality and shelf life, so we can give you the freshest beer possible.
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Thank you for all of your support throughout the release of our Templeton Red! We’ve bottled two batches of it already and it’s been selling out quickly across the state!

Our third and final batch of the season will be making its way into bottles – and finally to out-of-state accounts later this month.

We’ve already started filling fresh Templeton Rye barrels, so you can plan to see it again next winter!
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For those of you hop-huggers out there, Hop Sutra – our Double IPA – has been brewed and is scheduled to make a long-awaited return to store shelves by January 20th.

For those who haven’t tried it, this Double India Pale Ale is brewed with over 1-1/2 times the barley and 2-1/2 times the hops of our Hop Wrangler for a bold flavor and aroma and an ABV of 9%. It’s a favorite amongst the Peace Tree crew, and we hope you’ll feel the same!

HOP SUTRA
RATEBEER – 96
BEERADVOCATE – 88

Iowa Beer Review #105: Peace Tree Sidekick Kolsch

 peacetreeLooking for that beer that you grab out of your fridge in the garage after doing some yard work? Or a brew to grab and then sit in your lawn chair and listen to a ball game on the radio? Or just a nice, crisp, refreshing Iowa brewed beer that hits the spot in any situation? Well, look no further than Peace Tree Brewing’s Sidekick Kolsch (www.peacetreebrewing.com). When drinking a Kolsch style brew you should be light fruit flavor, minimal hop presence, slight bitter and dry finish to the beer, and Sidekick does is a very strong representation of this style.

More from the brewery:

This beer is brewed with pale malted barley giving the appearance of a golden pilsner style lager. It is actually brewed with a top fermenting ale yeast at cooler temperatures of a lager, giving a unique and refreshing character. This style is commonly filtered, we prefer to leave this beer unfiltered like a Kellerbier. Kolsch is actually a beer brewed in Cologne, Germany which is why we use the word “style”.

sidekickAfter mowing the lawn this beer didn’t stand a chance. Easy to drink, refreshing, and not just a mass-produced, flavorless beer. This beer has a great refreshing quality to it making it a mainstay in my beer fridge in the garage. Well done Peace Tree!

 

 

 

REVIEW

Style: Kolsch

ABV: 5%

Purchased at: Hy-Vee; Marion, IA

Pour: Light yellow pour, drank from the can.

Aroma: Grassy, malt, and some fruit on the nose.

Flavor: Nice malty flavor, crisp and refreshing, maybe a tad bit of hops to round it out.

Ratebeer.com rating: no score yet

Beeradvocate.com rating: no score yet

Overall: C

My recommendation: A really strong choice for a sessionable summer beer. Support Iowa craft beer and try a six pack!

Peace Tree Brewing Upcoming Releases

peace treePeace Tree is kicking out some new brews just in time for the warm weather and one of the those brews are going to be available in cans. Here’s the latest courtesy of the Peace Tree newsletter. Great start to the warmer months for beer in Iowa! Cheers!

First off, keep your eyes peeled for our newest brew, No Coast IPA, at a bar near you. This latest IPA is a very heavily hopped single IPA. It has great piney and citrus notes coming in at 95 IBU’s and 7.5% ABV. We will have it on tap here in the brewery starting April 4, and will be distributing to select accounts in Cedar Rapids/Iowa City, Des Moines/Ames, and Omaha/Lincoln soon. Make sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter to keep up on where it will be on tap.

Also, as many of you may already be aware, we will be coming out with our Spring/Summer seasonal Sidekick Kolsch. We are really excited for this and you can expect to find it here on tap late next week, in bars by the later half of the month, and in CANS(!!!) early this Summer.