Wednesday, November 20, 2013

And the homebrewing adventures begin!

I've been wanting to try a bit of home brewing for a while now. There is a great home brew store in Marion by the name of BIY Home Brew Supply LLC. Jess and I visited a month or so ago and were pretty impressed by the amount of stuff packed into that little store. When we walked in, the owner was super helpful and gave us just about all of the information we would need to start home brewing.  The store also carries all the stuff you would need for wine and cheese making if that's more your style.   
A couple weeks later (after a ton of online reading and video watching) I decide to take the plunge and drop the $200ish needed to get started up homebrewing.  I opted for the premium beer kit made by Brewers Best. I got the one with a glass carboy so I that I wouldn't have to worry about scratching it.  The lesser kit was only about $20 less than the best one he offered, so there was no reason to get one that wouldn't hold up. I asked Jess what she would like to brew for the first beer and she chose a robust porter. Loaded up on the supplies, we headed back to her place and dove in. Surrounded by boxes and kit pieces, we looked like little kids on Christmas morning. All of the stuff we needed was right there, so we set the date to wait until the next weekend to get to work.

The weekend before last, we started our first ever batch of homebrew. Here is the quick, high level process of brewing beer: Heat up some water, steep grains, boil water, add extracts and hops, boil it for a while, add more hops, boil it for a while, add more hops, boil it, then stick it in a bucket with yeast and wait. That process took about 3 hours. After about 24 hours our "little yeasties" as Jess likes to call them, started going to work and the one way valve started releasing C02.

I did have a bit of a worrisome moment. The heat in my apartment broke and I had 2 days of 55-60ish degree temps that stopped the fermentation process. Once the heat was fixed, I transferred the wort to a glass carboy and it picked right back up. We should be able to bottle shortly and see how it is. Can't wait!

Get in touch if you'd like to meet 'n' drink or write a guest post!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

How to Taste Beer Like a Pro | Event
Broad Street Brewing Co. in Reinbeck, IA

Back at the end of August, Greg and I attended Brew in the 'Loo and got our first taste of Broad Street Brewing Co.'s beer. It was love at first sip. The Reinbeck brewery's Black Porter and Sticky Wicket won out as our favorites of the whole festival. And we loved getting to visit with Trevor about his brewery and brews. Broad Street Brewing Co. when to the top of our breweries-to-visit list.  A couple weekends ago, we finally got around to it.

On November 2, we hopped in the truck and drove the hour and a half route through the country to Reinbeck, IA to spend our Saturday night learning How to Taste Beer Like a Pro. We'd been meaning to get up to Reinbeck and this event sounded too fun and interesting to pass up! Plus, we'd be learning about beer from Ann Fahy-Gust: former Director of International Quality at Guinness Brewing, brewery director of Newcastle, brewing engineer with MillerCoors. We'd really be learning from a pro!

When we pulled into the tiny town of Reinbeck, the Broad Street Brewing Co. sign glowed big and bright – couldn't miss it! Entering the small brewery, we found it to be packed with charm and beer lovers of all ages. We loved the details on the ceiling, red painted walls, chalkboard menu, and wall of glass overlooking the brewing equipment. Very cozy vibes happening here – perfect for chilly end-of-autumn nights like that one.

Since we were early for the actual event, we decided to start out with a sampler of four beers – even though we'd tried and loved most of them before. They had a delicious pumpkin brew on tap that I liked, but my beer heart still belonged to the Black Porter. Greg's favorite is the tasty Coo Coo Cachoo ESB. (But really, none of Broad Street's beers disappoint!) 

The cozy brewery soon got cozier. We slid into a booth with some other couples of all ages and from all different parts of Iowa. It was a great time with great beer, chatting with friendly Iowans about Iowa, craft beer, and homebrewing. Good people make an already fantastic event so much more fun. 

When everyone got settled, Ann Fahy-Gust took the stage (or, well, chair in this case) and taught us all How to Taste Beer Like a Pro. Greg and I have been at this beer tasting stuff for a little while now, so some of it was a review. But we learned a lot, too! Like what temperature different beers should ideally be served at. And that dark beers are often "lighter" than light beers. (Guinness does sit on top of Blue Moon or cider when you order a Black and Blue or Snakebite.) 

As our tasting glasses got filled up with different Broad Street brews, we all observed the different aspects of beer. Haziness and transparency. Head and lacing. Hops and malts. How you should actually sniff your beer with a "little rabbit nose" rather than take a big smell of it. (Rapid little sniffs help you tap into the fragrance better.) And how even the darkest beers can be seen through if you tilt the glass. (There was a hilarious moment when everyone tipped their glasses of Black Porter and Ooooh'ed at being able to see through the dark beer. Really wish I could have caught that on video!)

Lots of beer, lots of beer talk, and lots of laughter – we had an absolute blast in this little Reinbeck Brewery and can't wait to go back.

Thanks for the great time and great beer, Broad Street Brewing Co!

Give Broad Street Brewing Co. "like" on Facebook to keep up with their events and brew news.

Get in touch if you'd like to meet 'n' drink or write a guest post!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Brewery Roadtrip | Part 3:
Great River Brewery in Davenport, IA

Our final stop on the little Quad Cities brewery roadtrip was Great River Brewery in Davenport. I'd experienced a bit of Great River though our beer tasting travels. Sadly they were out of the Dos Pistolas beer that Jess and I sampled at Brew in the 'Loo and both LOVED. Happily, they'd just tapped a new beer. I can't say this phrase ever came out of my mouth before Great River came into my life... I love Big Cock!  Big Cock IPA, that is. It was a little too much fun to come up with all of the Big Cock jokes we could think of. All joking aside, the beer was really hoppy and pretty delicious.

Great River Brewery, all decked out for fall.
They'd just tapped Big Cock IPA the day before while we were at Front Street.

We enjoyed a flight of Great River's beers, then proceeded to drink some our favorites. For me, the winner of the day was Redband Stout, a milk stout flavored with coffee. I can't get over how cool and cute (I know, weird word for beer glasses) the can-shaped glasses at Great River were. I might have to purchase one or two next time we visit. (And hopefully they'll have that delicious Dos Pistolas back on tap!)

Great River concluded a weekend filled to the brim with beer. We had a great, laidback time putting back a few brews at their bar, chatting with a few locals, and hearing all about the crazy Big Cock tapping party that had gone on the day before. Sounds like we missed out on a wild time, but I think our weekend couldn't have worked out more perfectly.  Each brewery really had its own soul. And every one of them had fantastic beer. And fantastic beer is, of course, what we're always on the lookout for.

Check out first and second stops: Front Street Brewery
in Davenport and Bent River Brewing Company in Moline!

Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest | Instagram | Untappd: Jess & Greg
Get in touch if you'd like to meet 'n' drink or write a guest post!

Brewery Roadtrip | Part 2:
Bent River Brewing in Moline, IL

The second brewery stop on our little roadtrip awaited us across the Mississippi in Moline, Illinois. Spoiler alert! This brewery turned out to be our favorite of the three we visited! Immediately upon stepping foot in the place, we felt right at home at Bent River Brewing Company. It's one of those eclectic downtown drinking establishments that we just can't resist pulling up a stool at the bar, settling in with a few pints, and chatting about beer with locals and visitors alike. If we lived here, you can bet we'd be here all the time.

Shiny fermenters right in front of us!

We nabbed a couple seats at the bar right in front of all the fermentation and wort tanks. It was the first time we'd been up close and personal with brewing equipment. Most places seem to contain it in a different room or at least behind glass. The bartender was happy to tell us all about the tanks... and the beer they brewed in them. Speaking of beer, Bent River's Uncommon Stout is AMAZING! Do you like coffee? I don’t and I love this beer! Jess does and she loves this beer! The brewers here take the nasty bitterness out of coffee and leave a very strong yet pleasant coffee taste. We tried three of their other beers in a flight, too, but that Uncommon Stout was without a doubt the champion of the brewery.

Beer flight at Bent River!

I was no stranger to the deliciousness of Bent River's Uncommon Stout. I'd had the pleasure of trying a bottle of it at Old Chicago back in Ames about a year ago. However, I'd heard very good things about how amazing it is on tap. It was suggested that I take my Uncommon pint with a splash of their raspberry wheat beer. Well, I fell head over heels for that raspberry-coffee concoction. (No, not in a drunken stupor kinda way... in a head-over-heels-in-love kinda way.) When our stomachs started growling, we decided to stay and eat. I'm glad we did. Besides having top notch beer, Bent River serves up seriously scrumptious fare. Greg devoured the chicken strips, while I reveled in a burger on a pretzel bun and mouthwatering mashed potatoes covered in quite possible the best gravy I've ever had. 

A guy sitting next to us at the bar ordered up an Uncommon Car Bomb. An Uncommon Stout take on the traditional car bomb, I couldn't resist ordering myself one.  It was like a milky sugary coffee bomb. If any of you have the option, go try it. It is pretty darn delicious! The company and atmosphere of Bent River did not disappoint. As the night went on, the place filled up with locals, other first-timers, and even a wedding party!

Bent River was an all-around fantastic experience that we just can't stop talking about. Great food, great beer, great people, great bartenders and service, and a great atmosphere all came together to make it an unforgettable place that we really didn't want to leave. Bent River also has a new brewery facility on Rock Island. We didn't hit it up on this trip, but we're planning a trip back for BOTH Bent River locations very soon. Guess we just can't stay away from that Uncommon Stout. ;)

After Bent River, we went back to Davenport to cheer on the Red Sox in the hotel bar and get a good night's sleep before visiting the final brewery on our list: Great River.

Check out our first stop at Front Street Brewery
and our final roadtrip stop at Great River Brewery.

Get in touch if you'd like to meet 'n' drink or write a guest post!

Brewery Roadtrip | Part 1:
Front Street Brewery in Davenport, IA

On the weekend of October 26 and 27, the lovely lady and I took a somewhat spontaneous mini roadtrip to the Quad Cities for three breweries. The first of these was Front Street Brewery in Davenport. We'd hadn't heard of Front Street before looking up breweries in the area and we couldn't recall trying any of their beer at festivals either. We were in for a treat!

Though we took a little detour and walked almost right up to the building the first time before turning around and accidentally walking in the other direction, we finally arrived at Front Street. Its interior was warm and cozy: full of exposed brick, industrial light fixtures, old time Davenport photographs, and beautiful, burnished wood finishes. The place oozed historical charm. Definitely my kind of hangout.

"Beer, now there's a temporary solution." - Homer Simpson (Wise words, my man.)
When faced with picking beers at Front Street, we just had to go with a flight!

We commenced our little visit with a sample of Front Street's eight beers. The flight provided lots a variety in style. (Of course, we had to "tap in" every single beer on Untappd. You can add us as fellow beer buddies on the app: yeastloveandhoppiness_jess and yeastloveandhoppiness_greg.) The food menu (and smell of other diners' meals) was enticing! We weren't hungry enough for supper yet, but I had to munch on a salty, soft pretzel dipped in a delicious jalapeno cheese sauce. Next time we go back, I'm going with an empty stomach and chowing down on their beer mussels.

Tasty pretzel and delicious jalapeno cheddar dipping sauce.

Front Street really impressed us. Being a small restaurant, brewpub type of business, it fondly reminded us of our favorite brewery Olde Main... just smaller and cozier. The flight showcased some really good beers, but we definitely had our favorites that came out on top. My favorite was the seasonal Oktoberfest. Jess loved the Bucktown Stout, which is named for a notorious red light district that occupied the neighborhood some 100 years ago. Beer and a history lesson!

Thanks for the tasty, cozy welcome to Davenport, Front Street! :)

After finishing off our pints of Oktoberfest and Bucktown Stout, we ventured across the Mississippi River to our second stop: Bent River in Moline, Illinois.

Check out our next two stops: Bent River Brewing Co., then Great River Brewery.

Get in touch if you'd like to meet 'n' drink or write a guest post!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

6-Pack | Pick Six Beers for Autumn

"When the chill northeast wind blows, And winter tells a heavy tale, When pyes and dawes and doobes and crowes Do sit and curse the frostes and snowes, Then give me ale."

The snow isn't here yet, but cold weather beer season is. That 16th century English verse was spot on. On these increasingly crisp days and chilly nights, give us ale... or a lager. 'Tis the season for smoky porters and rich, smooth stouts. On cozy nights in, we like to hit up a store that lets us "Pick Six." We each pick three beers for a six-pack and settle in for a night of beer-drinking and Netflix-binge-watching. So we rounded up our six favorite craft and import beers to enjoy this fall.

If we could put together our own autumn six-pack, this would be it: