Madhouse Sours

I swear I drink other beers that are not sours. Believe it or not some people have a certain distain for sours. A friend of mine thinks it’s a disgrace to actual beer since “mankind has been refining yeast strains for a millennia and now we decide to use wild strains to undo everything we’ve worked to achieve!” But you know what? I don’t care. I love sours and now that the weather is warming up they are coming into season again.

Madhouse-FlightTo kick off spring Madhouse Brewing had a Mexican themed party and released two new sours: Paradise Found and Galaxy Haze. We got a flight of sours which had those two, but also the Black & Blue and the Satori Saison (the fifth beer was El Jefe [not a sour]). My favorite was the Paradise Found. Madhouse describes it as possessing flavors similar to a margarita and I could definitely taste the lime! Very tart and refreshing. My least favorite was the Black & Blue. The beer had this artificial candy smell to it! I spent a good time just sniffing it (probably looked like a psycho), because I could not figure out what it reminded me of. Once I tasted it I put two and two together. It tasted like a commercially made blueberry pie- the sickly sweet hyper blue filling.

There’s going to be more craft beer posts coming in the future. The market has really exploded in Iowa and our beer map with 53 breweries is already outdated. The Iowa Brewers Guild has a new map with 70 breweries listed so we really need to catch up!

Also, if you didn’t catch from my previous posts, I’m getting married in less than 2 months! But, for my bachelorette party we’re heading up to Minnesota, which was rated a top craft beer state, to see how they compare. It’s the 2017 Brew Tour- Minneapolis Edition. So get excited for that!

Peace Tree Brewing Co.

As you know my fiancé and I are huge craft beer fanatics so ever since the second Peace Tree location opened in East Village I was dying to get there. The Des Moines location opened on News Year’s day and the same day I made the foolish resolution to avoid alcohol. So I waited. I didn’t have a set time for my deprivation, but once I felt well enough (and was off antibiotics) from having pneumonia, you better believe this was the first place we went to!

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Before Peace Tree opened the second location they were already popular in Des Moines despite their base being in Knoxville. Almost everyone here has heard of Blonde Fatale and it’s become a staple beer at music, art, and any other cultural festival. This Belgian style blonde is a sneaky 8.5% and is my favorite Peace Tree brew. I visited the original outpost in Knoxville about 2 years ago and so I was curious to see the new beers the Des Moines location carried and if I would have a new favorite.

When we arrived on a late Saturday afternoon there was already a good crowd. This was back when the weather was uncharacteristically nice and all the cyclist were out to play. In the parking lot was Miss Molly’s Jamaican Patty food truck, which we came to find out like most taprooms they don’t serve food. No worries, we came for the beer anyway and once inside we ordered the way we always do in a taproom: a flight each.

The taproom is industrial looking with tall ceilings and a wall of windows facing the capitol. The room is divided by stacked wooden barrels (as pictured above) and the perimeter is lined with comfy black chairs. We sat at a table against the barrels with the view of the capitol, and all the increasingly inebriated cyclists, which made for fun people watching.

PeaceTree-flight

Pictured in order is the Brett Simcoe, Orange Gose (pronounced go-sa), Templeton Saison Blanche, Rye Porter, and Blondish. For some reason I didn’t save the picture I took of Curtis’s flight, but he had the Dark Sour, Cherry Gose, Ohh! Pale Lager, Red Rambler, and the Jalapeño Pineapple Kombucha. The Orange Gose was a highlight. The beer was fragrant with citrus notes and though sour it was not punishingly so. Another delight was the Blondish, a subtler version of the Blonde Fatale (as you would expect), but just as flavorful. The one beer that I was disappointed about was the Cherry Gose. It was a too sour for my liking (and I used to drink vinegar straight), and had a medicinal flavor I couldn’t get past.

Overall it was a great experience and though Blonde Fatale has yet to be usurped, it was fun trying. Have you been to Peace Tree’s Des Moines branch? What was your impression? Any beer I missed you think I need to try? Let me know!

2016 Year in Review

Though 2016 has been a disaster in many ways at least we ate well! This year my fiancé and I each had a list of restaurants and breweries to visit and really tried to push ourselves to try new things. Also, it was great to see how much Des Moines (and Iowa) in general has to offer. This post is a round up of all the great foodie experiences we’ve had this year.

Restaurants

Proof
We went for Valentine’s day and I still cannot get that sumac pork out of my head. I am going to try and recreate it so look for that in 2017!

Eatery A
I definitely underestimated this restaurant by only visiting on happy hour and ordering pizza. Don’t get me wrong the pizza is good, but they have so many more great dishes other than pizza. One night in October my fiancé and I went there for dinner with his family and we sampled so many dishes all of them good and unique. Fried gnocchi was a favorite, eggnog creme brûlée, and two dishes which were so good that we tried recreating- curried sweet potato soup, and mushrooms over polenta. Next time you visit I challenge you to order something other than the pizza.

Taste Place
If you’re a regular follower on the blog you’ll recognize this name as one of the places on my “Restaurants to go list.” We went on our 4 year anniversary and were not disappointed. I really wanted to try this place for the hot pot- a dish where you get a pot of hot stock and cook your food in the boiling stock. We had a spicy one with beef, wood ear mushrooms, rice noodles, and cabbage. The stock was so spicy that after our first bite we both started coughing and the regulars were laughing at us. The meal was a great experience though and I can’t wait to get back and try more dishes.

3B Grill
My good friend (and bridesmaid) introduced me to Bosnian gyros- they’re very similar to Greek gyros except the bread is thin and buttery. The place where I originally had one had closed and so we had gone on a quest for a replacement. 3B Grill is a small unassuming restaurant on Merle Hay. I had gotten one to go and the portion was huge and the bread so so so so good.

And for a restaurant outside of Iowa…

Byblos
The Turkish dumplings were silky and creamy and though I had never had the dish before it had a comforting effect which reminded me of home even though we were in Toronto!

Honorable Mentions

Krunkwich–  99 tot’s are tator tots (an Iowa staple) with a Korean twist.

Scenic Route–  turmeric latte was subtle with a hint of spice.

Beers
The fiancé and I are huge craft beer fans so much so we even went on a craft beer crawl earlier this year! Also, we each wrote down all of the beers we have ever had and we were both in the 200s! A lot of those are thanks to the many flights we’ve had from Iowa breweries.

These are some of my favorites in no particular order

Kalona– Start Up Stout
Lion Bridge– Workman’s Comp
Confluence– Blue Corn Lager
Exile– Beatnik Sour
Fox– Fox Tail (Irish red)
Twisted Vine– Madison County Saison
And for one non-Iowa brew
Oskar Blues– Death by Coconut

As I reflect over 2016 and re-read the highlights all I can think is how great of a year it’s been in terms of food and eating! It’s going to be a hard (and fun) challenge to top these experiences in 2017. Happy new year and here’s to trying!

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Iowa Brew Tour 2016

This past Memorial Day weekend the fiancé, Curtis, and I took a little trip around Iowa to visit some breweries. We originally had 9 breweries on the list to visit in 2 days. As you can probably guess 9 was waaay too much beer and so we only went to 5.

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Brew Tour Buddy

Even though we cut our trip short we ended up sampling 35 beers! Since there’s so many I’m only going to highlight my favorite from each place. Our route was mostly in eastern Iowa and on the way back we were going to go to the local breweries like 515 Brewing, Twisted Vine, Madhouse, etc., so those are still on our list.

First Stop: 3rd Base Brewery

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Favorite Beers: Pink Lady- a sour, tasted like grapefruit and the Black Cobra- an oatmeal stout.

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Address: 500 Blairs Ferry Road Northeast, Cedar Rapids, IA

Website: https://www.thirdbasebrew.com

Comments: They gave a sampler wheel with 8 beers for $16, uhh yes please!

Second Stop: Lion Bridge Brewing Company

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Favorite Beers: Workman’s Comp- dark beer with hints of toffee, also won the gold medal at the Great American Beer Festival in 2014. Curtis liked the Coffee Kolsh which had Peruvian light roast added before kegging.

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Address: 59 16th Ave SW, Czech Village, Cedar Rapids, IA 52404

Website: http://www.lionbridgebrewing.com

Comments: They had one of the most unique beers, which I didn’t have the guts to try- Oyster Disaster: a mushroom stout. I like mushrooms, but I don’t know if I’d like it mixed with my beer. Also, they’re located in the Czech Village in Cedar Rapids, a charming area with shops, restaurants, and bakeries, which I didn’t even know existed.

Third Stop: Another Road Brewing

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Favorite Beers: Columbus Didn’t Discover America Pale Ale.

Address: 1175 8th Ave, Marion IA

Website: http://www.facebook.com/Another-Road-Brewing-225604440948579/

Comments: When we visited they were out of their dark beers (insert frown-y face), so we mostly had lighter beers & IPAs. I think if the Chocolate Cherry Stout was available we would have been a fan. The bartender here was so nice and knowledgeable, not only about the beers on tap, but the surrounding breweries. He was even kind enough to give us an IA Beer Trails map, which made us realize there’s 53 breweries in IA and we’re so far behind!

Fourth Stop: Big Grove Brewery

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Favorite Beer: Que Onda Roja- flemish red, sour. Curtis liked Nitro Coffee Stout.

Address: 101 West Main Street, Solon, IA

Website: http://biggrovebrewery.com

Comments: Big Grove seemed more like a restaurant than brewery, and you could tell it was popular since it was so busy! Despite the busyness our waiter was great and explained the drinks to us without rush.

Fifth Stop: Kalona Brewing Company

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Favorite Beer: Start-up- Coffee Stout & Sheer Madness – Wheat Ale. Curtis liked the Double Whammy Imperial Stout and the Dubbel Night Vision.

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Address: 405 B Avenue, Kalona, IA

Website: http://www.kalonabrewing.com

Comments: If I had to pick a favorite, Kalona Brewing Company would be it. All of the beers had a great finish to them despite the alcohol content. The Start-Up beer mentioned earlier? Yeah that was 7.6% and you would never know since it goes down so smooth. Same with the Coconut Abbey- 9.2%, which has a great subtle coconut flavor that doesn’t overwhelm the beer. The brewery is also located in Amish Country, which was really cool to see. We stopped at a general store and got Amish made dill and garlic cheese… But, back to the brewery their mission statement talks about wanting to be the living room of the town, where everyone can meet up and socialize. I love that idea!

Side Notes: Though this was a brew tour we did eat pretty well along the way. We wanted to counter all the alcohol with some food so we ordered something at every place- southwest egg rolls, pork nachos, dumplings, and hummus. I don’t think we would have safely survived without it!

Also, Curtis took some footage so there may be a short film in the works about the trip so stay tuned for that! Lastly, as you now know five breweries are just the tip of the iceberg in Iowa so I think we might continue the tour and I’ll keep you posted all along the ride!