Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Festival of Iowa Beers | Amana, IA

Beer. Beer. And more beer. Oh, and little homemade apple pie. That pretty much sums up our Labor Day Weekend and you won't catch either of us complaining. On Saturday, Greg and I ventured to the Amanas for the 9th Annual Festival of Iowa Beers hosted by Millstream Brewing Co. It was a splendidly gorgeous summer day to enjoy the 24 breweries and nearly 100 different Iowa-crafted beers. For just $20, we each got admission, a souvenir sampling glass, and unlimited samples. 

Greg's Favorites

Rathaus Rauchbier, an intensely smoked martzen (Oktoberfest) style beer from Worth Brewing Company (Northwood, IA). The sign said, "Bacon in glass." Naturally, this got Greg's attention and he asked if it really did taste like that. Both of us were doubtful. "There's only one way to find out!" we were told. We were both stunned... in a great way. This beer was so deliciously smokey and bacony. I'm still perplexed on how they made a beer taste like bacon without actually putting bacon in it! Sorcery.

Summer Session, a 3.9% ABV session beer from New American Brewing Company, a brand new nano-brewery that has popped up in Ankeny. Since they're so fresh on the scene and small scale, this was our first taste of their brews. The Summer Session was refreshing and incredibly flavorful for being so light, definitely a delicious treat ideal for drinking all day long on a hot summer day. 

My (Jess') Favorites

Great Pumpkin Imperial Stout from the host of the festival: Millstream Brewing Co. (Amana, IA). I tried it on a whim, honestly expecting it to taste like any other pumpkin beer. Boy, was I wrong. This is a pumpkin beer unlike any other: a dark and rich fusion of roasted malts, nutmeg, allspice, and explosion of pumpkin. It reminded me of a dessert bar I had once that combined chocolate and pumpkin. Sounds like a strange combination, but it was mouthwatering and the beer could stand as a dessert all its own.

The Wild Milenko, a sour beer from Third Base Brewery (Cedar Rapids, IA), is one of the most unique brews I've ever tasted. Several other breweries turned me onto their sours throughout the day, and then a fellow festival-goer randomly came up to Greg and I. "Do you like sours?" he asked. I nodded. He insisted we go try the sour that Third Base had tapped at 3 PM. This was some powerful, flavorful stuff. Sour like vinegar, in the best of ways. Actually, it reminded me a lot of the beloved malt vinegar I douse my fish'n'chips with. This beer gave me a mad craving for fish'n'chips... I'm quite certain they'd beer a match made in beer pairing heaven.

More Favorites of the Day

New American Brewing Company's (Ankeny, IA) 1789 Imperial Porter, which at 8.5% ABV was a deliciously rich and smokey porter perfect for fall time. 

D.A.R.T. Dodger, a very hoppy, crisp, flavorful IPA from 515 Brewery (Clive, IA) turned out to be our favorite IPA of the day.

We braved the long line for Peace Tree Brewing Company's (Knoxville, IA) 2 PM tapping of Red Rum, a Red Rambler oak-aged 10 months in a Cedar Ridge Winery & Distillery dark rum barrel... and we were not disappointed. I'm not a huge whiskey fan (pass me a beer!) but I actually loved the whiskey taste in this brew. Yum.

Morningwood Amber, a dark Farmhouse Ale from C.I.B. Brewery (Carson, IA) was all at once tart, sweet, and rich with a clean finish. It was unique and I really enjoyed it.

The Festival of Iowa Beers was a fun-filled event. It was awesome to bring all the beer drinkers together and see what's happening with Iowa brewers across the state. Iowa brewers are doing some amazing / unique / magical stuff and we can't wait to see drink more in the future.

Our beer weekend... wait, isn't every weekend a beer weekend with us? Yes. Well, it didn't start or end there. After the Festival we ran some errands and hit up Old Chicago in Coralville for some delicious Hawaiian pizzas. Since I'd enjoyed Iowa craft beer all day, I enjoyed a good ol' Kostritzer. Later in the evening, we made up a batch of homemade apple pie. (Yes, we do drink other things besides beer!) The apple pie turned out amazing... and that's just one of the batches pictured above.

Friday night, Greg commenced the weekend with a wonderful surprise. He was not only making his pan seared, oven finished steaks with garlic mashed potatoes and parmesan asparagus (I'm drooling...), but he also bought us a boot and a six pack of my all-time favorite beer Weihenstephaner Korbinian. This was a dream come true. #1, You can't get a boot of Korbinian at Hessen Haus because the alcohol content is too high. So this was a real treat. And #2, Greg's steaks are the absolute best. 

So that was our Labor Day weekend: das boot full of Korbinian, Iowa craft beers, and apple pie. I'd say it was a success and one of the best Labor Day Weekends I can remember.

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