Thursday, October 17, 2013

Cedar Rapids Beer Nuts Homebrew Festival
Benz Beverage Depot | Cedar Rapids, IA

On Saturday afternoon, we ventured out into the gorgeous fall weather to the second annual Cedar Rapids Beer Nuts Homebrew Festival. After all the European beers we sampled at BrewNost the night before, we were excited to put them in contrast to some Iowa homebrews.

The first festival of its kind in Iowa, there was no commercial beer served. Homebrews only! Greg and I have had an interest in homebrews for a while now, but haven't had the opportunity to taste any. So this was a treat!

The event took place at Benz Beverage Depot in downtown Cedar Rapids. This was also our first trip to Benz, which will definitely become our go-to Cedar Rapids hot spot for buying beer. Outside the store, beer tents and food vendors were set up and the band Randomonium played. Proceeds from the event benefited Pints for Prostrates. (Cheers to drinking beer for a good cause!)

I wasn't sure what to expect from homebrews, but it was love at first sip. I was really impressed with the quality of beers and range of creativity in making them. Greg and I love these kind of events where you can get up close and personal with the beers by talking to the person who actually brewed it. We like to soak up the beer knowledge! One brewer had an especially educational table where he showcased the differences in yeast. Tasters got to sample two wheat beers that were exactly the same in everything except for the yeast, and then sample two blonde beers that were exactly the same in everything except for the yeast. We've known the difference that hops makes, but it was really great to taste the yeast differences.

As far as favorites went, five brews really stood out to me.

The Ol' Twig & Cherries (brewed by: Adam Ross, MUGZ) was a silky smooth and just-decadent-enough beer that tasted of delicious cherries. The 2% Chocolate Milk Stout (brewed by Adam Ross, MUGZ) was a scrumptious, chocolate-flavored stout that tasted like dark chocolate, perfectly balanced between sweet and bitter. 

While I'm not usually a fan of lemon beers (particularly shandies), the Lemon Party (brewed by Steven Prochaska, Cedar Rapids Beer Nuts) won my taste buds over as a double dry hopped citra saison with coriander. Yum, yum, and yum. I'm a sucker for saisons, hops, and coriander. It was a lemony-delish, hoppy saison and so refreshing. 

I didn't think I'd like the Sweet Tater beer (brewed by Tom Tapp, Cedar Rapids Beer Nuts), but I was proven wrong. Turns out, sweet potato and spices churn out a delicious taste similar to pumpkin beers. And lastly, I really enjoyed the Iowa Honey Saison (brewed by David Scheil, CRAZE). I can't resist a good saison and I loved the honey undertones over this one.

I liked almost everything I tried. There were just a few that aren't generally a style I'm fond of anyway. Looking at the complete list of beers that were there, it's clear that I did not try enough of them! 

Let's hear from Greg...

At the home brew event, the entire time I was wanting to buy the stuff I tried. Then immediately I realized I couldn't. There were some phenomenal beers there that I did not expect from small batch homebrewing. My top pick was a chocolate mint beer! Yeah, you read that right. Chocolate mint. It was like drinking a girl scout cookie. I'm usually not huge fan of beers like that (especially ones with a lot of chocolate flavor), but this one was done really well.  
The event and all those beers got me very interested in homebrewing. I'm not sure if I'm actually going to do it yet, but it might be fun. 

Greg liking a chocolate beer?! As the girl that consistently gives Greg a sip of her beer and sees his nose wrinkle a bit as he mutters something about it being too chocolately... that homebrewer was definitely doing something the right. The chocolate mint beer was soooo delicious! In fact, I think it wins as overall favorite of the day.

After spending Friday night at BrewNost and Saturday afternoon at the Homebrew Festival, we loaded up on a mix-and-match six-pack of beer and cider from Benz Beverage Depot to drink on Sunday afternoon and round off our weekend full of beer. As Greg so eloquently put it: Good beer and lovely company made a wonderful weekend!  Way to make a girl blush! ;)

Give the Cedar Rapids Beer Nuts Homebrew Club and Benz Beverage Depot a "like" on Facebook to stay up to date on their news and events.

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



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