With 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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** – 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.
**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!