Testing, Testing (and getting testy?)

My restaurant‘s coming together, with great progress yesterday on the only big glitch. Making the day even better was, of course, beer.

I’ve installed a shank system for my two taps, and ordered a keg earlier than necessary so I could test them (and reward my volunteer labor). My first delivery came yesterday, and so the first delicious draught poured with great excitement. Because he deserved it for many reasons, Kyle got the first pint, but because he was babbling about not really feeling worthy of that honor, I took the first sip (from what was the second pint poured). So, we both got honors, as it happened.

What does a beer blogger-turned-restaurateur do for a beer list?

Some of you know that I’m a big believer in the local stuff, so that’s been my focus from day one. As I said, I’ll have two taps, and both will be Iowa beers: Millstream Brewing Company’s John’s Generations White Ale (this was the best wit I had last summer, and it took Silver at last year’s Great American Beer Festival) and Raccoon River Brewing Company’s Stonecutter Stout (this was my favorite of their many fine beers).

With the exception of three Mexican beers (it’s a Mexican joint) and three familiar-grape wines (in case it’s necessary for an alternative for Native grapes), everything else will be locally and regionally focused. We’ll have everything available from our local winery, which will be putting out its first vintage just in time for my opening. We’ll have hard cider from Sutliff Cider Company. And the other dozen or so beers will be micros that don’t get too far away: KC, Chicago, Minnesota and Wisconsin, primarily. That has taken some discipline. I really wanted some Belgian stuff. I really wanted Fuller’s London Porter. But, I’ve decided to walk the walk. I scratched all these beers off my list. It felt really good. You should try it some time.

A word on Bud

Recently, I met Raccoon River’s brewer, Dave Coy, at a homebrew competition, and he let me know that he was working with the local A-B Distributor to get his beers out. I then approached my local Bud rep about bringing Dave’s stout in on tap. He didn’t know they were working together. My rep’s supervisor said the logistics would be tough to manage, so I should just do Goose Island on draught.

Several conversations with my rep, calls to Dave and Dave’s calls to the distributor higher-ups later, and I’ve got this tasty Iowa beer on tap. You can’t tell me a well-oiled national distribution system can’t manage to get me a beer that they’ve agreed to distribute. Thankfully, a little follow-up and positive persistence, as well as communication with and help from the brewery itself, made it happen. Big thanks to Dave. If you’re in Des Moines, go try his beers at the source. If you’re in Corning, drink ’em at my place.

A word on Rating Sites

From time to time, I check out Rate Beer and Beer Advocate to read opinions on beers I’ve never tried. Whether in forums or reviews, I’ve learned to take many opinions with a grain of salt. Sometimes what they say and the final score assigned do not seem to match. They might dislike a beer I enjoy. Some folks have different preferences, levels of experience and different temperaments. Some folks also appear not to have a lick of sense, but I can’t confirm this.

Out of curiosity, I looked up some of the beers I’d chosen to serve. The RR stout is an example of why you should trust yourself and the beer in your glass today. There were only, I think, three reviews on BA, and they were none too positive. They were also none too recent. I’m not sure how long Dave’s been at the helm, but his Stonecutter Stout’s been excellent every time I’ve had it. The last time I had it was yesterday, and I look forward to my next pint.

Do research, but learn whose opinions you trust and lean on them (and your own experiences) more than the comments of anonymous posters (mine included, until you have a feel for my brains and my taste buds).


A few related links:

Sutliff Cider Company

Raccoon River Brewing Company

Millstream Brewing Company


9 Responses to Testing, Testing (and getting testy?)

  1. […] Testing, Testing (and getting testy?) […]

  2. travis says:

    BA’ers really rip on Saranac (a regional brewery in CNY) regardless of the brew. It’s pretty weak because while Saranac does have some “run of the mill beers” they also have some quality brew. The high peaks beer (Imp IPA) they did won a competition in Australia (Stone Brewing was in the competition). Needless to say, I don’t put a lot of faith in the “rated by the masses” premise that BA’s system is built on.

  3. Glenn says:

    Bravo! Good for you putting your money where your business is with the local stuff!! I wouldn’t have expected anything different from you though 😉

  4. Wilson says:

    Glennster, I absolutely had you in mind the day I scratched all these terrific, faraway beers off my list. Cheers, bro!

  5. Eric Vernon says:

    Great to see you sticking to the local stuff! Let me know if you want some opinions on some Minnesota beers. I’ve posted several times about my love of Millstream. As a fellow Iowan, I’m glad to see there is such a great brewery in the state, everything I’ve had of theirs has been great. I have a friend bring up some every time he goes back to Iowa. John’s White is one of the better white’s I’ve had, which is saying a lot because there are a lot on the market and I’m a big fan of the genre.
    I’ll have to try Raccoon River if I ever get back down to Des Moines.

  6. Dave says:

    Wilson, good catching up with you. I been doing a bunch of other stuff myself and was a bit pleased to see I hadn’t missed a lot. Congrats on the progress. With the price of things lately (gas, grain, hops…you name it) an Iowa/visiting family vacation may be in the cards. Who knows? Cheers! And keep us posted.

  7. Great post, I really enjoyed it. I will have to bookmark this site for later.

  8. iowa winery says:

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  9. […] I’ve said before that brewers are good people. It’s really that simple. And today’s the day I bring an example. Actually, I’ve mentioned Dave Coy before: […]

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