Iowa Brewery Top 10 for 2017 | The 10 Best Breweries in Iowa - The Iowa Beer Blog

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Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Iowa Brewery Top 10 for 2017 | The 10 Best Breweries in Iowa



It's been yet another year of craft brewery growth across America and Iowa. The Iowa beer scene welcomed Barn Town, Brightside Aleworks, Pivo Brewing, Fenders Brewing and more. Before we turn the calendar, let's rank the Top 10 best currently in Iowa.

10. LION BRIDGE - CEDAR RAPIDS, IOWA
One of Iowa's award winning breweries, Lion Bridge makes solid beers well beyond the English Mild Workman's Compensation. They have a bourbon barrel-aged RIS, Gazprom!, that saw bottles this year. They produce a very popular barrel-aged marzen, Oktobot, in the fall. There's also an entire month (January) dedicated to barrel-aged beers at the taproom. Like most on this list, they've stepped up their IPA game and released The Dangler and Majestic Beast. If you've yet to get to the brewery for their fine food and beer, next month is the time to do it.

9. 515 BREWING - CLIVE, IOWA
Like Lion Bridge, 515 is also a Great American Beer Fest Award winner. 515's OJ IPA put them on the map years ago but it's the single hop "Meh" series that keeps them there. Passe, Bogan, Medicore and Blase are a must when tapped. OJ is the OG of Iowa craft IPAs and they've recently added coconut and pineapple making their base beer even more interesting.

8. BARN TOWN - WEST DES MOINES, IOWA
How does one of Iowa's newest breweries make the top 10 list in only 10 months? They jump head first into the latest trend in craft beer and produce terrific NE Style IPAs on a nearly monthly basis. Barn Town gave us Feelings Mutual, Hop Skewer, Pulp Non-Fiction, Hey Hey Haze and Not From Concentrate. They've also teamed up wit Centro and Brickstone to produce solid collaborations. While their IPA gets you in the door, they also have a BA stout and porter that's solid and some fruited Gose or Allagash White clone Wagon Wheel Wit.


Pulp Non-Fiction

7. SINGLE SPEED - WATERLOO, IOWA
Single Speed is perhaps Iowa's most consistent brewery across several styles. Tip the Cow, Victory Dance and Tricycle are beers that'll never let you down when on tap. They also produced with Pulpit Rock Coconut Migration, one of the surprise beers of the summer. This being stout/pastry beer season, Zach's Mexican Donuts is a must buy if you're lucky enough to find it on a tap near you.

6. MADHOUSE - DES MOINES, IOWA
After infection issues with their big stouts in 2016, Madhouse learned from their mistakes and produced even better pastry beers in 2017. Carpe Diem, El Jefe, VIP and sold out quickly across the Des Moines metro. Carpe Diem had some doing a side-by-side with TG's Mornin' Delight. Their sour program added Power Jam, Fountain of Youth and Cherry Berry Bomb. Still missing is maybe that homerun IPA but Citra Storm is a step in the right direction.

5. EXILE - DES MOINES, IOWA
The Des Moines brewery will surpass 10,000 barrels this year. They do it with flagships like Ruthie and Hannah that distribute all across the state. There's value in that when ranking top Iowa breweries. They also have the Jesus on a Forklift BA stout and the very popular Bohemian series. The taproom is the place for various pilot series or Jesus with adjuncts. Like Madhouse, Exile is turning a corner with their IPA program. This fall saw the beginnings of a single hop program (Hop Chronicles) with Mosiac Crown. Exile could be ready for a big 2018.

4. BIG GROVE - SOLON, IOWA
Speaking of big years, Big Grove completed a tap room expansion into Iowa City. They also expanded keg distribution into Des Moines for the first time taking over several taps with their Richard the Whale series. Their portfolio boasts solid IPAs, tasty Berliners (Que Sera), and Richard the Whale BA stouts. The Whale saw bottling for the first time this month. Perhaps their IPA is next and will hit shelves soon.

3. ALLUVIAL - AMES, IOWA
Alluvial is easily Iowa's most beautiful brewery setting to sit and enjoy a patio beer when the weather allows. In addition to the scenery, the IPAs that flow from their taps are pure delight. Fresh MoMo, Lutris, Lonta, Lontro Double Pale and Helix are all fantastic beers you'll be lucky to find on a visit. If IPA isn't your game, there's usually fruited sours or saisons or in winter Aurox Imperial Stout with Maple. Expansion is coming in 2018 which is great for the entire state.


Aurox w/Maple

2. PULPIT ROCK - DECORAH, IOWA
In just a few days, hundreds will line up outside the Pulpit Rock taproom for a chance at their latest bottle release, BA $ticker $hock. The base beer was one of Iowa's best in 2017. They also produced some of the juiciest IPAs in the year too. Their list of great beers is impressive: Pudgy, Rechoncho, Saftig, Ryhme Animal, Dave-O, Pour over Porter and the fantastic fruit beer Pillow Talk. My number two on the list is quickly closing the gap on number one.

1. TOPPLING GOLIATH - DECORAH, IOWA
While others may be catching up, Toppling Goliath kept their foot on the pedal. 2017 saw releases of KBBS, Assassin and Mornin' Delight. There's the new IPA Fire, Skulls and Money and sour Dragon Fandango. The theme park sized brewery/taproom is almost ready in Decorah and will surely become a beer geek attraction. The new facility is making fresh Sue and canning right here in Iowa. King Sue and maybe Assassin is to come down that same line too. In a perfect Iowa, Assassin and Sue for you, and you and you.

King Sue, DDH Sue, Sosus and Assassin

OTHERS RECEIVING VOTES:

Iowa Brewing Company, Franklin Street, Lark, Green Tree, Boone Valley Brewing, Jackson Street, Backpocket Brewing


6 comments:

  1. Great list. I would put Exile in 11th, move everyone up one, and stick Franklin Street in there.

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    1. Franklin Street in Manchester? 😊

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  2. Quad Cities area breweries need to step up their game! They were among the pioneers in Iowa craft brewing, but based on this, are falling behind.

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  3. Any list that includes Exile or Madhouse is bunk AF.

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  4. If you are in Ames and going to Alluvial, you need to stop by Torrent as well. Great place in downtown, and to me better than most of the places on this list.

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