Yesterday, Wonderful Beer Wife and I took a little excursion to the 6th Annual Festival of Iowa Beers, hosted by Millstream Brewing Company in Amana.
As the name of the event suggests, this event is a showcase of Iowa’s brewing talent, with 12 (I think) breweries, one cidery and eight homebrew clubs pouring the tasty libations. We had a good time chatting with brewers, friends and brewvana readers, as well as sizing up the beers on offer.
With the size under control, this was a pleasant festival to attend. Some of my personal beery highlights included Eric’s Rock Bottom stuff (schwartz!) , Dave’s Raccoon River libations (Pils!) and Mike’s Court Avenue goodness (double ESB!), all planned favorites that didn’t fail me.
There were a couple of good black IPAs on offer and one sorry one, but I don’t really remember who brewed what.
To me, Peace Tree is definitely a important newcomer to the Iowa beer scene, and I can’t wait to see them develop over the years.
And the quiet, out-of-the-way brewery that I find very impressive is the Einfach beers of Old Man River Restaurant and Brewery, up in McGregor. Einfach’s brewer Jacob Simmons is throwing down a delicious body of work, focused primarily in German lagers. While he keeps it simple (einfach means unpretentious simplicity), he’s got a creative mind and his brews are clean and engaging. His dunkel was great; his peat-smoked McGregor Lager was amazing and he even tossed in a GPA (German Pale Ale) to keep things interesting. It employed a Munich-alicious German-styled grain bill, and was fermented with an English ale yeast. Simple doesn’t have to mean boring, as Simmons proved. Einfach’s having trouble keeping up, and I can see why. They’re looking to expand and I can only hope that means that it will be available in my neck of the woods in the not-too-distant future.
Too bad all the breweries couldn’t measure up. To be honest, there were a couple of breweries that were flat out disappointing. Lost Duck. Third Base. How can you seriously survive with such a lousy pale ale? How can you think that Bohemian lager measures up? Why wouldn’t Olde Main put more energy into the brewing part and let the marketing slide for a while? The two pieces of that puzzle aren’t equal.
For the record, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that the homebrew clubs absolutely measured up, especially one: MUGZ (Mississippi Unquenchable Grail Zymurgists). Two of their offerings crowded out many commercial beers for best beers of the day. Landing on the high end of my top five beers of the day were Gabby’s Oatmeal Cookie Ale and Show Your Roots Chocolate Blonde Ale. The former has me anxiously awaiting the completion of my own Cookie Jar Porter, which hit the carboy a couple of weeks ago, and the latter was simply amazing, carrying an intense chocolate nose and flavor in an appearance-doesn’t-matter, blonde-colored beer. Creative and amazing beers, both.
Other homebrews, of course, didn’t live up to their name: the Kevin Bacon Porter was a disappointment, and there were a couple other rough offerings not worth discussing.
It was a good day. Tasty. Liquid. Good.