Oskar Blues Comes to Town

10934081_1037102432984874_7968853305114062187_nThe Quad Cities Area recently welcomed Oskar Blues products, newly distributed to the Illinois side of town. As for the Iowa side, their beers are available in some locations in Iowa City and Cedar Rapids now, so soon they should slowly trickle down our way.

The first two beers to drop in the QCA were at an event at Rock Island Brewing Co. (RIBCO) on Friday, January 16th. That evening

RIBCO tapped a keg of Ten Fidy – a seasonal Imperial Stout and Deviant Dale’s IPA. Over the weekend, O’Keefe’s tapped those two brews as well as Mama’s Yellow Pils, the brewery’s small batch German-style pilsner, and Old Chub, a Scottish Ale.

It is these four brews as well as the G’Knight Imperial Red Ale and Dale’s Pale Ale that were featured in the area’s first Oskar Blues Tap Takeover, held at Radicle Effect Brewerks on Tuesday, January 20th. There were also several pallets of various cans delivered to the Illinois Hy-Vees, some Nitro, some not, all of which sold out quickly.

Oskar Blues was started at a brewpub in Lyons, Colorado in 1997, with the first batch of beer brewed in the basement in 1999. Oskar Blues released its flagship ale, Dale’s Pale Ale, in cans for the first time in November of 2002 and is currently the largest canning craft brewery in the country. In 2008, a production facility with a new canning line was opened up in Longmont, Colorado, that now also houses a brewpub. In 2013, Oskar Blues opened their second production facility in Brevard, North Carolina, undoubtedly to continue expanding their distribution range and increasing their capacity by 120,000 barrels a year.

Out of the six beers listed, the G’Knight Imperial Red Ale was my favorite. I am a sucker for a red ale, especially one that is dry-hopped with Amarillo hops; brewed with 6 kinds of malt, 3 kinds of hops the beer comes in at 8.7% ABV and 60 IBU, touting a 2012 World Beer Cup Gold Medal. An amazing aroma. I like the story behind it too. The name G’Knight comes from Gordon Knight, a Colorado brewer who lost his life to fighting a wildfire in Lyons, Colorado. Oskar Blues brewed this as a tribute to him and has had nothing but outstanding reviews from coast to coast.

My second favorite, you may be wondering? Definitely the Ten Fidy the 10% ABV, 98 IBU, Imperial Stout that pours a gorgeous, thick, chocolate covered head atop a dark, black and roasty stout. A beautiful beer though can be dangerous with how smooth it is, you get no alcohol burn from it whatsoever.

As for the rest, you should get out and try some. I know for a fact that right now (2.5.15 at 4:30pm) Radicle Effect Brewerks has Dale’s Pale Ale on tap and RIBCO has Oskar Blues Pinner Throwback IPA on tap. This is the brewery’s newest addition to their year-round line-up. I haven’t had a chance to try it but I may swing down this evening and change that. Oskar Blues makes a great product and is an environmentally sound, community focused and supported brewing operation; I welcome them to the QCA and look forward to enjoying many of their brews.

QC Craft Beer Week 2013

As you know, 2013 was our beloved Quad Cities’ first Craft Beer Week held May 4th through the 12th. Many of the local establishments, breweries and bars alike, recognized the week as a way to celebrate the greatness that we locally brew as well as order into our area. The QC Craft Beer Week website can give you a more detailed breakdown of the week’s events; I unfortunately didn’t get to go to every single one, because sometimes I have to work. But I did get a chance to go to a couple of the events and try a few of the beers brewed especially for the week….

Bent River Brewing Co. tapped two different beers during the QC Craft Beer Week (QCCBW). The first was a spring seasonal, the Desoto Lager, a Mexican-style similar to Corona. Desoto is the only Lager Bent River brews currently – this being because it takes twice as long to brew as their ales. From a brewer’s standpoint, it is hard to see a fermenter being taken up for twice as long as normal when you have a regular brew house rhythm rolling. Though time consuming, it is definitely worth the wait. The beer is crisp, clean, and refreshing served garnished with a lime, it is a wonderful warm weather beverage and should be available well into July.

The second specialty beer Bent brought out that week was a collaboration created with a select few special folks from the MUGZ (Mississippi Unquenchable Grail Zymurgists) home brewing club brewed on the big boy equipment of the Moline location. The MUGZ club came up with the recipe and the Bent brewers tweaked it just a bit in order to adjust it to fit in with their brew schedule as well as their ingredients they had readily available in a bulk capacity. What came out was the MUGZ Rye Pale Ale, a complex beer brewed with 8 kinds of malt, multiple kinds of hops, and the end result was amazing.

As a special treat, for the day of the tapping, Bent River brought out 2 kegs of the Rye PA that their brewers decided to dry-hop, turning the IBU’s and the flavor palate way up. Some people thought it was a bit too much, but those crazy hopheads out there absolutely loved it. I thought the bittering end of the hops mixed with the peppery-ness of the rye paired quite nicely together. The two dry-hop kegs didn’t last very long but there’s a few kegs left of the MUGZ Rye Pale Ale, head on down and try a glass if you haven’t yet, it’s a treat for sure. Try a glass in their new bar open in Rock Island; the remodeling that they’ve done there is beautiful, it’s definitely one of the coolest bars in the QCA.

On Wednesday, May 8th, I went down to Great River Brewery’s event, which was labeled as an “Attack of the Cask” night, but that wasn’t the case. See, Great River has been playing with cask ales for several months now and they usually tap a firkin every Wednesday evening. While they did tap a special brew of beer, it wasn’t the usual “cask ale” tapping and I think attendees should have been notified of that.

The special brew they served was created by Justen Parris, the current vice president of the MUGZ club; it was a Scotch Wee Heavy Ale that was aged for 6 months in Templeton Rye Whiskey Barrels. The brewery was claiming it was 8.5% ABV though it seemed a lot bigger than that; and there were also a lot of people swearing that it was a sour beer, which it was not. If you had a glass of it and experienced that flavor, it was an unintended side effect of the aging process that several people speculated on. Some believed it was dependent upon where in the keg you got your draw from; the top of the keg seemed to be less sour than the bottom. Some thought that maybe it was from the barrel itself, that perhaps it sat empty for too long before the beer went into it and it effected the barrel’s quality or encouraged a form of bacteria to grow in the wood.

Though the specialty beer wasn’t my forte – malt forward, big AVB, bourbon-barrel flavor – I will try anything once, especially when the driving force behind it is someone I consider to be one of the best brewers in the Quad Cities right now. The weather was great that day, so that always enhances the experience at Great River when you can comfortably sit outside. They added additional seating on their patio area, gearing up for summer.

I also got to to attend the Crooked Tap Handle Takeover held at Against the Grain on Thursday, May 9th. Dark Horse Brewing Co. released a single hop series they brewed with their fantastically delicious IPA, Crooked Tree. They single-hopped the IPA with Citra, Falconer’s Flight, and Cascade Hops and I got to try all three! I listed them in the order of my preference; the Citra hop dominated the flavor profile of the beer – but that’s how I like it. I like my IPA’s more sweet and juicy with the citrusy hops West Coast styles are known for. The Falconer’s Flight was more balanced with their sweeter malt bill and the Cascade was refreshing but not overly hoppy. All 3 were good beers and were sold in a bottled variety pack with the original Crooked Tree as well as the Crooked Tree IPA.

While hanging out at ATG, I ran into Tim Koffarnus, the gentleman behind the QC Craft Beer Week and we struck up a conversation. Tim moved down to the Quad Cities from Appleton, Wisconsin a few years ago. He’s an all-grain homebrewer that’s been brewing for about fifteen years now. After moving down here, Tim joined the MUGZ homebrew club to find some like-minded individuals to share in the delight of his hobby.

About two years ago, Tim and the MUGZ club joined forced with Great River Brewery to do a collaboration brew, “Hydra”. Great River gave the club a percentage of the proceeds from the sale of the beer and the club began discussing what to do with the money and that’s when Tim had the idea of the QC Craft Beer Week.

QC Craft Beer Week LogoDespite a few businesses not being interested in participating and a few miscommunications (or misspellings) overall the week was a success for everyone involved. Local businesses saw boosts in sales, there was tons of media coverage, and the Visitor’s Convention Bureau is going to promote it big time next year to create a travel destination out of the Quad Cities during that week.








The Dam View Inn

Earlier this week I had the opportunity to pop down to the newly remodeled Dam View Inn, located at 410 E. 2nd Street in Davenport. The bar re-opened on November 1st after being closed for a couple of months during an extensive remodel. It looks amazing inside; it now has this Old World Pub feeling, a complete change from the once quaint little dive bar. The exposed brick remains but added to it now is a sleek, dark wooden bar, with wooden beams running throughout and heavy, wooden shutters that can over the now exposed windows. It lends well to the ambiance of the place, making it feel quiet and dark, warm and inviting.

The beer and spirits selection remain the same as the old Dam View. Domestics and Great River Brewery beer on tap and represented in their extensive can selection. They have a lot of tall boys – a whole cooler dedicated to them, in fact. A craft beer fan can find the usual suspects to select from in bottle case amongst the premium lights and malt beverages. Or there’s always Jameson. They have great daily specials that they post up to the Facebook here.

The selection may not be the best but the service you get with it is quality – it always has been at the Dam View, in my experience.  The location is cool,  its got a great little spot right on the river at the foot of the Arsenal Lock & Dam #13 (hence the name). Go check it out sometime, I recommend it, it’s definitely one of my favorite bars in the downtown Davenport area.