Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Move Forward

I've stayed quiet on social media during the election process because I've learned long ago how polarizing politics can be.  I've seen friends, family, co-workers, and even spouses get into huge arguments about their choice for president.  I've seen smart people that I respect say dumb things and act in embarrassing manors and I've kept quiet (while silently screaming) hoping I could ride it out.  I will, in part, continue to do so.  This post is not about what candidate was the better choice, who was wrong or right, who is less evil, who lied more, or who I thought should be president.  That truly doesn't matter.  Don't try to argue with me about the candidates or bash anyone in the comments either, I will delete all of those types of things.  This is about us as a country moving forward and learning from how we got ended up with this years election.

As I see it,we have a few fundamental flaws in our system, and most of them come back to money.  First, I'm disgusted by the amount of money our candidates waste during the election process.  We're talking over $6 billion!!!! With a B!  Can you think of better ways our country could spend that money?  I know I can.  How about a few obvious choices?  Education, infrastructure, and health care.

Our roads and bridges are falling apart, and people in Michigan can't even drink their tap water.  This seems like an obvious choice.

How about educating our kids, I don't think you can ever go wrong there.  Why are we still teaching kids the way we did a hundred years ago?  Are jobs the same? Not even close, so why teach them the same.  Our text books are outdated by the time they are printed.  Let's move to digital, lets have teachers be more interactive. I know when I was in classes and the teachers just droned on and on while writing on the chalk board, I stopped listening, still do. Find a new approach.  Let's invest in our kids and America's future.

Health care.  We should have affordable health care for everyone. Period. Let's stop the lobbyist from determining our prices, and stop the drug companies from advertising.  That doesn't help anyone except the drug companies and drives up our health care costs.  Let's take away the insurance companies abilities to rule our health decisions and put it back where in belongs in the hands of the doctors and the patients that can make informed decisions.

The other big problem I have with the election process is our outdated voting system.  Why can't people vote online?  If American Idol can figure it out, surely our government can.  Why do we need electoral votes?  Why are votes split up by the state?  I get it.  The system was put into place when horses and paper ruled our communication.  We are far from those days, so lets move on.  Just count people's votes as they are, and truly make every vote count.

Bottom line, let's start working together and stop the hate.  What's done is done, bickering won't change anything.  We need to come together to push for reform and make this a better country for all that live in it.  We have to set a good example for our children, show them whining and name calling won't solve anything, but rather calm and open dialogue and compromise is what will move our country towards progress.  Let's move forward.

I think Americans as a whole were/are fed up the the status quo and wanted a change.  We may just have it now.  Is it the right change?  Only time will tell.  As Walt Disney used to say "Keep moving forward."

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Single Speed

 I recently read an article that says the craft beer industry is getting stale.  That couldn't be further from the truth for the Iowa craft beer scene.  Singlespeed Brewing is proof of that.  Not only do they have a great 3 barrel brewery in down town Cedar Falls, but they are embarking on a huge endeavor of opening a 20 barrel brewery in the historic Wonder Bread building in Waterloo.

What makes a brewery successful? Making money, obviously.  Of course there's making great beer, a cool building to hang out in, good food?  Yeah, those all help too, but when it comes right down to it, it's the people that work there.  We all want to go to a place "where everybody knows your name." OK, so maybe we don't need to go to Cheers, but we do want to feel welcomed.  That's more than just good customer service.  It's people that are passionate about their craft and care about what they do and want to share it with everyone that walks through the doors.  That's Singlespeed.

I've met Austin (lead brewer) several times at the taproom.  He always has a smile on his face, and is constantly watching over the room to make sure everyone has a fresh beer in hand.  He also has a steel trap memory, but that's another story.  After having the opportunity to sit down and talk with Austin and fellow brewers Zach and Ryan for my latest podcast  I saw another side of him.  Austin comes across as a super friendly, laid back kind of guy, and he is. He's also protective, analytical, and proud of what he's doing at Singlespeed.  The passion for his job is very evident.  You can tell he wants every detail in the brewery to be perfect, starting with the people that work there, continuing with the beer, and finishing with the tap room experience.  His passion for what he does is infectious, and you can see that in Zach and Ryan with how excited they are about their jobs too.

Dave Morgan (owner) has a good vision for what Singlespeed can be, and he's got the right people in place to make it a reality.  The beer world is starting to take notice.  This month, Beer Advocate Magazine did a story on Singlespeed highlighting how they want to keep beer accessible to all.

Big things are coming from this now small brewery, and I can't wait to see what's next.

So what do you do when old friends come to town for a visit? Share some amazing beers, of course.  After splitting a Trappist Westvleteren 12 (a truly amazing Belgian Quad) we headed to Decorah for some beers at Pulpit Rock Brewery.

Pat enjoyed the fresh Kolsch, we both had the porters, but the stand out of the day for us was To Hop and to Hold.  A double IPA brewed for Justin's (co-lead brewer) wedding.  Luckily for us, they made enough to have at the brewery too.  Justin and Bob are quickly becoming a force in the Double IPA field (not to mention their friendly rivalry with Singlespeed over who makes the best coffee beer.)

Pulpit Rock is another brewery that has an incredible atmosphere.  It doesn't hurt that we were greeted by Tyler, who immediately snatched us the last open table, and got us a few beers to start with.  It was a great afternoon with great people, finished with a fantastic burger from Good Times (a recommendation from Tyler and Mike.)

Brewer Bill has been in the Iowa craft beer scene for a while now, but recently he's become a one man show.  Kickshaw Barrel Works has become his latest endeavor.  You really should check him out on Facebook and Twitter, he's both entertaining and educational.  Hopefully someday I'll be able to share a few beers with him and do a podcast.  Until then, I'll keep drinking what he's making.  By the way, what he's making is damn good beer.

If there's one take away from today's entry, it's good people and good beer go together.  I don't think the craft beer business is going stale, I just think consumers are changing what they're looking for.  We don't need the highest ABV beer, or the craziest concoction like something brewed with beard yeast, we just want good beer from people we can relate to in a comfortable atmosphere.

This is the reason I haven't done a blog or a podcast in a while.  Joseph was in 5-6th grade football, and I was lucky enough to be one of the coaches (offensive and defensive line.)  Most of our weeknights and Sundays were filled with practice and games.  I had a blast working with the kids, and can't tell you how proud I am of the whole team.

Joseph, who was one of the smallest kids in the league was a DT (defensive tackle.) Not usually a spot reserved for small people, but he really held his own.  He took on kids that easily had 30-40 pounds on him, and never complained.  I've never seen him work so hard at something before.  Even the other kids and coaches took notice earning the nickname Guyer from our head coach.  Guyer was a former player of our coach that out worked everyone else to become a solid football player.

I really loved that these kids were just as excited for the person that made a key block as they were for the person that scored the touchdown.  They really became a team, and that is what sports is all about. I was honored to be a part of it.

Don't forget to check out my podcast with the brewers at Singlespeed.

Follow me on Twitter: @Crinkletalk
Until next time.  Cheers!

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Some days you never forget

 It's been a crazy few weeks here in Eastern Iowa, work has been busy, lots of overtime, the weather has been nice than humid than nice than humid, family gatherings, beer releases, and pushing myself to my physical limits doing my first ever 5K.

Let's start with the Blasen family's 18th annual golf outing.  This was my second year attending, and I took along Joseph who not only drove a golf cart for the first time, but also golfed for the first time.  It was a fun day spending time with family that we don't see very often.  We watched my dad and his brother hang out together during the round of golf, we spent time with my sisters and brothers in-law, and maybe the highlight was seeing my cousin Rick walk into the club house on his own two feet.  You may remember from my earlier entry that Rick was in a terrible car accident a few months ago.  In true Rick fashion, he has exceeded everyone's expectation for his recovery.  Working hard, and staying positive the whole time.  He is truly an inspiration to me.
 This week I was in Decorah and had an hour to kill, so naturally I went to Toppling Goliath for a beer.  I lucked out, because they had this barrel aged monster Term Oil 6-B on tap.  This was a 12.5% ABV barrel aged stout that was very well balanced.  Brewmaster Mike is an expert at barrel aged beers, and it shows in this stout.
It reminded me of a Goose Island Bourbon County Brand Stout, but I thought is was even better.  I loved the silky chocolate notes that hit the palate first, followed up with some subtle roast malt characters, and finished nicely with the bourbon and barrel flavors.  One of the biggest problems I've seen with the BA (barrel aged) beers lately is the lack of restraint on the bourbon flavor that dominates the beer making it difficult to enjoy.  This was not the case with Term Oil.  It was extremely well balanced, and I'm glad I had a chance to enjoy this very limited brew before it was gone.  Cheers Mike!  Well done.
 Just down the road from TG is the new kid on the block, Pulpit Rock.  Open for nearly one year, this 7 barrel brewery has quickly been making a name for themselves in the Iowa craft beer scene.  I had the chance to sit down with General Manager, Tyler, and both Co-Head Brewers, Justin and Bob, share a few beers and record a podcast.  After spending some time with the guys it was evident why they are becoming such a popular brewery.  Quite simply they love what they do, and they do it well.
Pictured is there flagship beer, Saftig.  This is a super "crushable" IPA.  A simple grain bill helps highlight the citrus and fruity hop flavor and aroma.  It's very easy to see why craft beer lovers are clamoring to drink this IPA.  While this IPA is their best known beer, they like to brew a wide varieties of beers, and will be expanding on their beer styles even more in the near future.  From Bocks to English Milds, Belgian style brews, and even vanilla aged stouts, Justin and Bob  show no style is off limits.  They are creative and talented brewers that have found the perfect place to showcase what they have to offer.
 Shorty after we finished our podcast, a black cloud of death moved over the brewery.  A fast moving, strong storm blew in sending sideways rain and knocking down trees and the power in the process.  Here you see bartender/brewer Keith lighting some candles so we could all have another beer while we waited for the storm to pass.
Saturday, August 20th Pulpit Rock will be celebrating their 1 year anniversary.  Bob assured me they will make it worth the trip that weekend.  Several new and special releases and a free hog roast will be a few of the highlights of the day.  If you haven't been to the brewery yet, this is the weekend to go!  Below is a link to the podcast.  Thanks again to Tyler, Bob, and Justin for joining me for an awesome podcast!  #StinkJuice

 As many of you know I have Cerebral Palsy. It makes my life a little more difficult than the average person.  I get tired more easy, my body is always tight, and I have poor balance to name a few things.  This spring I was feeling worse than normal, and my blood pressure was sky high.  I knew I needed to make a lifestyle change so I could be a part of my families life for many years to come.  I started walking, lifting weights, and dieting.
5 months later, my blood pressure is normal, I've lost 27 pounds, and I'm stronger than ever.  A month into exercising I set a goal to walk a 5K, something that had previously been unthinkable for me.  This weekend I walked in and finished my first 5K, and I surpassed my time goal by nearly 9 minutes.
We walked for the Fredericksburg Pool as a fundraiser for them.  Joseph spends a good portion of his summer at the pool, and we are happy to support the pool in any way we can.
I was lucky to have my family with me there too.  My wife Tonya won her age bracket, as did my mom.  Joseph finished strong, and even came back to walk the last 100 meters with me.  My 78 year old dad walked with me the entire way, helping me keep my pace.
Maybe the most amazing part of the walk for me was the support from the other runners and walkers while I was walking, and the incredible support I received from them and the pool lifeguards as I neared the finish line.  Even though I was close to a half hour slower than the last walker, they were all there clapping and cheering me on.  I can't express how much this meant to me.  I have worked very hard the past 5 months working towards this goal, and really pushed myself yesterday not only to finish, but finish faster than what I was shooting for.  Reflecting on it this morning I know this is a moment I will never forget.

What better way to celebrate a personal accomplishment that having a few amazing beers, eating some local pizza (Pizza Palace), and watching Top Gun and the 2016 Summer Olympics?  Thanks to Doug for bringing me a few growlers from 515 brewery in Des Moines.
Brewer Barb and the 515 crew make some outstanding brews.  Pictured is one of my favorites, Mediocre Pale Ale.  I can't say enough good things about this brewery, their beer, and the great people that work there.  Thanks to Matt from 515 for helping me get my order together for Doug to bring up north.

I think I've rambled one enough for one entry, so don't forget to follow me on Twitter: @Crinkletalk
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Saturday, July 23, 2016

Hype Train

 We've all heard or seen those people online, that brag about this "amazing" beer they had.  Of coarse they like to point out that they've had it and you haven't.  It really makes us feel like we're missing out on something truly special.  Sometimes we may be, but most of the time we're not.
 This year, I've made it a goal to get a hold of as many of the sought after beers as I can.  In most cases, they've been good beers that I'd be glad to drink again.  In some cases, they were not good at all.  Almost none of them lived up to the hype.

Daisy Cutter Pale Ale is one such beer.  Don't get me wrong, I really enjoyed this beer, and would hoppily (see what I did there?) drink it again.  But if you listen to the praises online about this brew, you'd think that you would be transported into this fantastic beer nirvana the moment you had your first sip.  That didn't happen, it was just a really solid Pale Ale.  One that I would buy again, but there are also several Iowa Pale Ales that I would choose over this one.

I guess my point is, don't believe the hype.  Many people will talk about beers that are supposed to be great because they think that's what they're supposed to say, not because they truly believe it.  If you think Busch Light is the  best beer you've ever had, own it, if it's Daisy Cutter, more power to you.  You should be more concerned with enjoying what you like, than drinking what is currently "cool" or "it" in the beer community.
 My 10 year old son, Joseph is in his first year of 4H.  He joined so he could show our dog Arson.  For weeks he practiced with Arson on showmanship, obedience, rally, and agility.  He also learned more about how to properly take care of a dog (like cleaning ears, brushing, feeding, and vaccinations) and even learned a little history on the dog's breed.

It all led up to fair day.  It was a warm and muggy July day, that started with a 7am check in and went until after 1:00.  Joseph did a great job working with Arson and staying upbeat, even when things didn't go so well (like the sit and stay portion of obedience.  By the end of the fair, Joseph and Arson came away with 1 first place ribbon for showmanship (helped by the fact that Joseph learned so much about his dog,) and 2 third place ribbons in rally and agility, where he competed against many kids several years older than himself.  It was a proud parent moment seeing his hard work pay off, and how he kept his composure throughout the whole process.  It's interesting being a parent and watching your child grow and mature.  It was also my first experience with 4H.  It's nice to see a group help children learn good habits, like work ethic, responsibility, and community outreach.  He's already talking about doing it again next year.
I've said it before, but we finally have a date and time set.  Our next podcast will be recorded at Pulpit Rock Brewery in Decorah, IA in less than 2 weeks.  I will post the link here when it's up and running, I really think this will be a good one!

Follow me on Twitter: @Crinkletalk
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Thursday, June 30, 2016


 Overall, I would say my first ever Iowa Craft Beer Fest was a success.  I felt the Iowa Brewers Guild put on a very nice brew fest, but there is always room for improvement.  First what needs to be improved.  Getting inside.  We had the VIP tickets, got there 15 minutes before the doors opened, and still had to walk nearly 4 blocks away from the entrance with no direction, and no semblance of order.  There were a lot of people upset as there were regular ticket holders as well as VIP ticket holders in line.  Luckily the line did move pretty fast and we managed to get through the gates about 10 minutes after they opened.  It was a crazy free for all though, and this part really needs to be improved.

Next, the heat.  I know they can't control the weather, and when it's over 90 degrees and humid there's not a lot to be done.  Maybe a few tents to stand under for some shade as we sample?  They did have a free cold water station, but they were pouring from uncleaned tap lines, so the water tasted like stale beer.  This should be a bit embarrassing for them too.
 Now don't get me wrong, other than a few minor things, the fest was well run, and was a very good time.  It was great to see all those Iowa breweries showcased in one spot.  Some breweries I've never heard of, some I have but haven't previously tried, and some of my old favorites all brought amazing brews to share with all.

It was also great to see everyone, working or drinking, having a good time.  The workers from the breweries were friendly and informative, and the attendees were all enjoying themselves.  I talked to many people that day, shared some great beers and laughs too.

Above, I found a great resting spot when I needed a break.  To the right was my crew for the day.  My brother in-law Chad, my father in-law Larry, his brother Gary, and his brother in-law Doug.  A huge thanks to Doug and Sherri for housing us, and especially to Sherri for driving us, and putting up with all of us!

Some of my stand out beers from the day came from breweries like Single Speed, 515, Alluvial, Toppling Goliath, Pulpit Rock, Fire Trucker, Millstream, and Lion Bridge.  There was so much good beer there, there is no way I could possibly name them all.  This day was a ton of fun, and I would absolutely go again.  Cheers to the Iowa Brewers Guild and all the fantastic Iowa breweries!  Keep up the great work!!

Jared and I recorded another podcast where I talk more about the fest, vacation beers, the bacon ride, and more.

Follow me on Twitter: @Crinkletalk
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Saturday, May 14, 2016

Tree Shaker

Odell Brewing has officially hit Iowa, and they came out swinging.  Tree Shaker is a 10% ABV IPA brewed with fresh Colorado peaches.  While the peach aroma and flavor is subtle, it's there, and a great addition to the solid Imperial IPA.  This beer drinks very smooth with just the right amount of bitterness to balance the big malt body and the sweetness from the peaches.  If you can be patient and let this beer warm up a little, the peach flavor is more prominent and is well worth the wait.  Over the years, I've had several offerings from Odell, and they've all been pretty solid.  I can't wait to see what they send Iowa next.

If you're looking for something to listen too, check out the second Crinkletalk podcast.  I think Jared and I felt a little more relaxed with this one.
We hope to record our 3rd one soon!

I'd like to take a minute to tell you about my cousin Rick.  He was recently in a severe car accident in Dubuque when is car was hit by a semi.  He has multiple broken bones, and a very long road of healing ahead of him.  Please check out this link below.
If you are able to donate, we would all greatly appreciate it, at the very least, please share his story.  I know you hear all the time about what a great person someone is in cases like this, but this time it's very true.  I can't ever remember seeing Rick in my entire life where he didn't have a smile on his face.  He's a great family man, and an incredibly hard worker.  He truly is one of the good guys, and I wish him a speedy recovery.  A big thanks to all that have donated so far, and those that continue to donate and share his story.

Follow me on Twitter:  @Crinkletalk
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Saturday, April 9, 2016

Spring is Beer!

 My favorite brewery turned 20 this year, and of course they made a beer to celebrate.  Dogfish Head is know for pushing the boundaries of what beer can be, and for making spectacular high alcohol brews.  I've hear mixed reviews on this one, but was glad to finally try it.  Rumor has it, it was supposed to be a 20% ABV beer, but there were complications during fermentation and it ended up at 17% ABV.

The brew was thick and sweet, and made a perfect desert beer.  I'm not sure I'd want to drink a whole bottle by myself at one time, but was great splitting it.  I absolutely would have another.  So Cheers, and happy birthday to Dogfish Head!  I can't wait to taste what you do over the next 20 years.

 My good friend Lisa and her family took a trip to Colorado recently, and was kind enough to bring me back a nice haul of Colorado beers (and a 6 pack of Racer 5, I know it's a California beer, but it's one of the best IPA's out there.)  I haven't heard much about Upslope brewing, but this Imperial IPA was outstanding.  Crisp, fruity, malty, balanced by the bitterness from loads of hops, this Imperial IPA drank more like a 6% than a 10% ABV.  Absolutely fantastic.  This is a brewery that I will need to try more from.
If you live in the Midwest, than you've probably heard of Surly brewing.  Todd the Axe Man is one of their most sought after beers, so when I stumbled on a lone 4 pack recently, I had to pick it up.  This delicious IPA is loaded with Citra and Mosiac hops that you can smell the moment you pop the top on the can.  Luckily this beer tastes as good as it smells.  My only problem with this beer is the price point, at $18.99 a 4 pack (at least they are 16oz cans) it's a pricey brew.  Because of that, not one I would drink regularly, but definitely one I'd love to have again.  Another excellent beer from the crew at Surly.

Since my last blog, I've decided to give podcasting a try.  So, for the next year I will put out at least one podcast per month, hopefully more if I can get some guests to help out.  You can find my first one and the upcoming ones on my Crinkletalk YouTube Channel.  I promise they will get better!

Until next time, follow me on
Twitter: @Crinkletalk
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Friday, February 12, 2016

Super Beer Weekend

 It's Super Bowl weekend, the biggest sporting event of the year.  Lots of people have big parties with family and friends, and as always, there's plenty of junk food and beer to go around.  Parties are great and all, but I prefer to spend the evening with my family and actually watch the game (still with junk food and beer, of course.)  I watch as many games as I can all season long, and I love watching the final showdown for the title.  These are the beers I've enjoyed both the week leading up to the big game, and during the game itself.

Ballast Point is relatively new to Iowa, and I've only had a handful of their brews so far.  Grapefruit Sculpin is an excellent IPA. I came across this bottle of Victory at Sea at HyVee a few weekends ago, and had to try it.  This 10% ABV Imperial Stout was fantastic.  Big bold flavors, yet surprisingly smooth and easy to drink.  I can't wait to try the peppermint version of it!
 With the good, comes the bad.  Indra Kunindra Curry Export Stout is what it sounds like.  A decent stout with curry, cumin, coconut, and kaffir lime.  To me, the curry and cumin were over powering, and I didn't get any coconut or lime flavor.  To be honest, I didn't even finish this beer, the curry was just too much.  I'm sure there are lots of people who would enjoy this one, but I am not one of them.

Even though I didn't enjoy this brew, I will still continue to try more of their beers.  Not every beer is for everyone, and one bad beer doesn't take away from all the good ones they make.  For instance, my favorite brewery Dogfish Head makes a couple that I truly dislike, yet they make up for it by making some of my favorite beers.  So, if you haven't given Ballast Point a try yet, please do....  Just maybe not this one.

While in Des Moines a few weeks ago, I picked up a few offerings from Backpocket and Exile Breweries.  It's great to have so many really good craft beer offerings made in the state of Iowa right now.  Exile has really been making a name for themselves in the past few years.  At the Last Great American Beer Fest, they scored a gold medal with Gigi, a dark lager.  With other great brews like Gorilla Press, Beatnik Sour, and Chill Clinton they are showing they are on their way to being a power house in the beer industry.
This time, I picked up some Raspberry Bohemian and Cherry Bohemian.  I tried the Cherry last night, and was quite impressed.  Tart and sour, and very easy to drink.  This would be a great beer to enjoy during the hot summer months, although, I enjoyed in quite a bit during the cold wintry night too.

The latest in Toppling Goliath's X-Hop series, X-Hops Gold, may just be the best.  The fruity hop aroma hit me as soon as I popped the top, and the beer poured hazey with the perfect head.  This was a great beer.  As usual Brew Master Mike loaded this brew with hops, yet kept it super easy to drink and had me wanting more. It also paired well with nachos, buffalo chicken dip, spinach dip, and the Super Bowl.  I couldn't have chosen a better beer to enjoy the biggest game of the year.

Of course I did follow it up with Blood on the Blade, a Red IPA by Backpocket Brewery.   This was a completely different beer from TG Gold, but really just as good.  These guys are continuing to impress me, and I have become a big fan of theirs over the last year or two.

As for the game itself, I've heard a lot of people say it was boring, and I couldn't disagree more.  It was an excellent defensive battle that I found very exciting to watch.  I mean, a strip sack with a walk in touchdown?  How is that not awesome?  The halftime show however, was horrendous.  This is the biggest stage in the world, and the NFL keeps laying eggs.  Let's try for actual entertainment NFL!!

Well, that was some of my football weekend.  Feel free to tell me what your favorite brews of Super Bowl weekend were below in the comment section.  You can also follow me on Twitter: @Crinkletalk
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Friday, February 5, 2016

Beer show

The holidays have long since past, but the cold and snow are here to stay.  Sometimes a weekend get a way is just what our family needs.  In this case, the Des Moines dog show is a great excuse to get away, see some friends and family, and have some great beer.

Joseph was all smiles on the ride with two dogs to cuddle with.  Arson, and our friends dog Cherry, tried to sit on his lap the entire drive.  We had a fun afternoon visiting with friends and watching the dogs strut their stuff.  No points this time around for Arson, but he lights up in the ring, and is coming into his own.  Give him another 6 months to grow up and fill out, and                                                                                           he'll be a winner!

Joseph doesn't just enjoy the dog show, but now he enjoys visiting the local breweries too.  Thanks to his uncle Chad for introducing him to Peace Tree's rootbeer at their taproom this summer.  Luckily, my favorite Des Moines brewery, 515, has Peace Tree rootbeer by the bottle.

Since Chad and Annie met us for the dog show, I knew they had to visit the 515 tap room with us.  The parking lot was packed, and the tap room was just about full on this Saturday afternoon, but luckily for us a table opened up at the perfect time.  I would also like to add, that this was my second visit to 515, and both times the staff was extremely friendly helpful even with a busy tap room.  Maybe it's a good thing that I don't live in Des Moines, because I'd be visiting this place all the time.

Chad and I both ordered the 4 beer sample flight and we were ready for take off.

The beers from left to right, Dart Dodger, OJ IPA, Mediocre Pale Ale, and Castaway Porter.

The first 3 I tried at my last visit, and knew they were all top notch IPA/Pale Ales.  Don't ask me to pick a favorite, because I can't.  Which ever one I was drinking was my favorite.

What really surprised me was the Castaway Coconut Porter.  There are several coconut beers on the market now, and this was the first that I've had.  I was reluctant since I'm not a huge fan of coconut, but this beer blew me away.  Extremely smooth, and well balanced, there are great roasty malt flavors with a very subtle hint of coconut that blends well with the porter.  I love IPA's, but this is the beer that I've been craving since I came back home.  Great job, once again by the folks at 515!

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Happy New Beer!

 The holidays are over, it's time to go back to our regular lives, try to lose weight, and get prepared for the worst of what winter has to offer.  It's not all bad though, there are usually a few left over goodies from holiday gatherings to enjoy, NFL playoffs are starting (even if my Lions aren't in them....again,) and if you're lucky you may have acquired some good beers throughout the holiday season.

While this wasn't a beer bought during the holidays, I figured it was the perfect time to enjoy one of my favorite beers of all time, Enigma from New Glarus Brewing.  Sweet, tart, sour, and incredibly complex, this beer shows why people outside the cheese state think so highly of this brewery.  Enigma is easily one of my top 3 favorite beers of all time.

 The holidays are a great time to eat too much food, drink some great beer (or whiskey,) and catch up with friends and family.  When ever my friend Pat comes to town, you know there is going to be some drinking, and inappropriate things said, that make you laugh and shake your head at the same time.  Pat made a beer run to Chicago and came back with some Bourbon County variants, and some Zombie Dust.  He also picked up a 15 year old bottle of Pappy Van Winkle, and was kind enough to share a glass.  Last year, he brought a sample of the 20 year old Pappy (the holy grail for whiskey drinkers,) the 15 year old Pappy is the slightly more attainable, more in your face little brother.  The taste is very similar, but with a a bit more of that whiskey burn.

Not to be outdone, I shared a bottle of the elusive 120 Minute IPA from Dogfish Head.  This 18% behemoth was surprisingly drinkable, and showed an incredible balance of hops and malt.  This was the perfect beer to follow up such a fantastic whiskey with.  It was a short visit, but as always, great to see Pat, Jenn, and Zoe again, and of course be able to share some amazing drinks.

The other night, I had the opportunity to meet up with my friend Dan.  He was back in Iowa visiting family, and we decided to meet for a few beers, and do an Iowa/Deleware beer exchange.  We met a Single Speed Brewing in Cedar Falls, where we had the chance to meet and talk with a few of their brewers.  It was great to finally meet Austin after talking with him on social media for several months, and also nice to meet Matt, their new Head Brewer.

All 3 of these guys know how to brew great beer, and are all a lot of fun to hang out with.  I really enjoyed "Tip the Cow" Expresso Milk Stout.  It was smooth, creamy, and roasty.  I thought it was exceptionally balanced.  I would also highly recommend their Cocoa Mint Stout, Brewed x 2, and Ambidextrous IPA, and really everything else they have to offer, you just can't go wrong there.

When we left the brewery, I gave Dan his goody bag of Toppling Goliath beers, some home brew and a few other local brews.  I wasn't ready for what he put in my car in exchange.  I guess it pays to be friends with a brewer, but this was a bit over the top! Thanks Dan for your generosity, I will try to even things out next time around.  Cheers!

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