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!

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