Tag Archives: Iowa City

Drinking Local in 2019

One of my 2019 “resolutions” was to drink local.  Now, I already spend most of my beer dollars on local beer but I thought it would be instructive if I really went out of my way to drink local and record the results.

Here is how things shaped up for the first three months of 2019:

First Quarter 2019 Beer List.png

Big Grove Brewery, ReUnion Brewery, Lion Bridge Brewing Company, SingleSpeed Brewing, and Exile Brewing are all breweries from Iowa.  The six pack of Denver Beer Company Incredible Pedal was purchased in Colorado, so I am going to count that as local.  Therefore, the only non-local beer that I purchased for home consumption in the first quarter of the year were two six packs from New Belgium and Lagunitas.

Away from home things look a little different.  Most of the beers I consumed were either purchased at the brewery taproom (Barn Town Brewing, Lion Bridge Brewing Company, Big Grove Brewery) or close to the brewery (SingleSpeed Brewing, Clock House Brewing, Green Tree Brewery, Outer Range Brewing, Bonfire Brewing).

I did end up drinking some Lagunitas IPA at an event in Davenport.  This was the most “craft” option available and it goes to show how far beer has come in the last decade.  When you are somewhat disappointed that Lagunitas IPA is the best option you know things are pretty good right now in the state of beer consumption.

The only other non-local beers that I consumed away from home were a Surly Liquid Stardust that I was eager to try when it became available on draft at a local establishment and Roadhouse Brewing Mountain Jam that was recommended to me by a server in a Colorado stop.

Looking back I would say that my efforts were solid.  Only Lagunitas, owned by Heineken, would not be considered a craft brewer under the guidelines set forth by the Brewer’s Association.

Friday Linkage 1/30/2015

It is almost February. Wow. It’s about time to start thinking about spring planting and summer projects that need some planning to pull off. I am really hoping that this year will be the season where I start to bring my landscape closer to my ideal state. Stay tuned.

On to the links…

White House Proposes Protecting More Than 12 Million Acres Of Alaska’s Arctic Refuge—I am glad to see someone trying to put drilling in ANWR to bed once and for all, but I feel like the eastern seaboard of the U.S. got sold out to try and make this happen.

‘World can cut carbon emissions and live well’—Too often the debate sounds like status quo on one side and primitive living on the other, but to combat climate change—which really comes down to cutting carbon emissions—our quality of life does not have to suffer. Granted, the measurements of quality of life are critical to making that determination but still…

7 Interesting Global Renewable Energy Trends From NREL—The growth of renewables is starting to reach a tipping point in the U.S. after decades of fits and starts. Every time I drive somewhere in town I imagine solar panels on every south facing roof.

Solar Costs Will Fall Another 40% In 2 Years. Here’s Why.—The balance of system costs, like installation and permitting, are finally beginning to fall at a pace fast enough to bring down system costs.

U.S. Wind Power Installations Swelled Sixfold in 2014—The headline number here is that the U.S. added ~4.7 gigawatts of onshore wind power capacity in 2014 versus just 764 megawatts in 2013.

Offshore Wind Energy Would Produce Twice as Many Jobs as Oil and Gas Operations in the Atlantic—Let’s remember that the jobs produced by oil and gas drilling can be replace by jobs in clean tech industries. It’s forgotten too often as we debate another round of offshore drilling leases in American waters.

The Solar Industry is Creating Jobs 20x Faster than the Rest of the US Economy—Oh wait, the solar industry is killing it when it comes to jobs.

US Navy + Air Force Commission 120 MW Of New Solar Power Plants In Florida—Florida may suck for individuals wanting healthcare or solar energy, but the U.S. military is going to go ahead and make it happen for themselves. Does Rick Scott suck or what?

Bangladesh Wants to Become the World’s First “Solar Nation” by 2021—Bangladesh may be poor, but the country does not lack ambition.

More Than 125,000 UK Homes Installed Solar PV Last Year—This is in the U.K. which is not a place known for its sunny climate.

SkyMall’s Demise Could Save American Airlines $350K a Year on Fuel—If you doubt the power of little things adding up, consider the case of removing those silly SkyMall catalogs from the seatback pocket of every airplane in American Airlines fleet.

Ecopolis Iowa City: As State Leads in Wind, Can Iowa City Become ‘City of Solar’—Just thirty miles to the south of me and I completely missed this going on. Huh.

11 Must-Know Cleaning Tricks to Green Your Routine—Getting the toxic, harsh, and just plain nasty chemicals out of our daily cleaning regime is a necessary event for every household. Trust me. When I walk into a place that has been cleaned with something more mainstream my senses are assaulted.

10 Handy Hacks for Emergency Situations—The snow-pocalypse may have spared New York City, but hammered some other parts of the northeast. It is still a good idea to think through how you would survive a few days without electricity or heat. It’s not a prepper thing.

Thoughts on the Arrival of New Pioneer Coop

After much hand wringing, on the part of Iowa City residents, and pleading, from Cedar Rapids residents, New Pioneer Coop decided to open a store in Cedar Rapids.

For those of you who do not live in this area there is a tension between the two communities that resembles the “town versus gown” tension in college towns. Iowa City, where the University of Iowa is located, would be the “gown” and Cedar Rapids, where more people live and work, would be the “town.” It’s an imperfect analogy, but it starts to get at how each city generally views the other.

However, not serving a community just thirty minutes up the road seems silly and the membership of New Pi finally saw the light. The new store, in the old Fin & Feather location at 3338 Center Point Road NE, opened in early December 2014. I wanted to wait and give my impressions a moment to ferment.

The location is great. It’s conveniently off of I-380 and near the north side of town where a large chunk of commercial activity, not to mention the city’s two largest employers, resides. The best part is that it’s just a few turns of the crank away from the Cedar River Trail that connects to the Cedar Valley Nature Trail and the Hoover Nature Trail. I have spoken at length about the gem that this trail system represents and the more businesses that locate near the trail system the better.

The bread is amazing. Now coming from a centralized bakehouse to meet the demand of three stores and commercial contracts, the bread has maintained its well-known quality. I highly recommend the jalapeno cheddar bread. Trust me, I stalk the 2 PM Saturday delivery like a paparazzo. It barely lasts into the next day. A dry-hopped IPA and a slice of this bread are the perfect evening snack.

The prepared foods are also great. The kitchen staff is headed up by Matt Steigerwald who was the owner/chef of the highly regarded Lincoln Cade in Mount Vernon. He is assisted by former co-worker at the Lincoln Café and former owner of Braise Company Shawn Price. It will be very interesting to see what these two cook up, literally and figuratively, as the store gets its feet underneath itself in the near term. I also tend to have an addiction to the Cashew on a Hot Tin Roof sandwich. I have a problem.

Given that it is winter in eastern Iowa I am going to wait to pass judgment on the produce section. The store seems to be laid out in such a way to add produce as seasonal items become available. The local Honeycrisp apples were delicious.

Two areas that were underwhelming to me were the beer and coffee selection. I am a beer snob, but I had hoped to see something different on the shelves. It really felt like a chopped down version of the craft beer case at any local HyVee. The bulk coffee selection underwhelmed as well. The selection was limited—no bulk decaf option—and there seemed to be a real lack of variety.

Work is not yet completed outside. This is the product of living in Iowa where the winter stalls out construction for months and the legacy of having to remove a pest control office that used to sit in what is now the parking lot. When completed the parking lot is going to feature a bioswale.

The bioswale will slow runoff and allow runoff from the parking lot to filter through vegetation and compost before hitting any streams. This is a key improvement because a critical urban waterway runs along the Cedar River Trail just to the west of the store. Given the city’s history with flooding and the importance of urban waterways, a freakin’ runs right through downtown, I hope that bioswales become more common across the area.

There is a whole lot of positive happening with New Pi’s Cedar Rapids location. I consider the initial store layout and product offerings to be a test case that will evolve over time as local tastes and preferences come into play. Evolution is good.

NOTE: I am a member of New Pi, so my opinion is not totally unbiased.

If it’s Friday, it must be beer

It’s Friday night and for some people that means fighting, but for me it means beer!

Honey Kolsch is Bottled

This beer blew the fermentation lock off the carboy and took a week longer than I anticipated to stop active fermentation.  The beer smelled somewhat harsh or astringent out of the carboy, which is a departure from the more mellow styles that preceded it.  I really do not know what to expect out of what was bottled tonight.

Growlers Lead the Charge

After a couple of months I was finally able to get the 38mm polyseal caps for my 64 ounce growlers.  Now they are filled with beer and sitting in a darkened closet conditioning.

Roggenbier

The newest style I am brewing is a rye ale or roggenbier.  I purchased the American Rye Ale kit from Northern Brewer and got to brewing on Friday night.

As I was finishing up the boil I realized that I did not make any ice the previous week to cool the wort down quickly.  An advantage of living in Iowa is that in mid-November is the outside temperature dips below freezing at night.  Call it the low carbon wort chiller:

It cooled down quickly and I did not feel like I was wasting water or ice.  I think I am on to something here.  Just wait until I can jam this pot into a snowbank.

Drinking Local

I spent this past weekend in St. Louis where I had the privilege to ponder an interesting dilemma: what is the right beer choice?

Let me explain.  One friend is a die hard New Belgium Brewery fan who goes to great lengths to drink Fat Tire Amber Ale or Sunshine Wheat regardless of his location.  It helps that he primarily lives and visits locations west of the Mississippi River where the beer is readily available save for Oklahoma and Utah, bastions of the 3.2% ABV mafia.  Another friend, a St. Louis resident, is a local aficionado.  In St. Louis this used to mean Budweiser and…  There was no and for years because Budweiser ruled that town.  Following the sale to InBev there has been a backlash against Budwesier as the beer of locals.  Now the title probably falls to Schafly.  This is truly a wild development given the stranglehold the Clydesdales had on that town.

My preference is increasingly favoring the local crowd.  There is something about drinking the beers endemic to the area in which you are visiting.  It’s like terroir without the pretension that comes from European rules.

In eastern Iowa, when my homebrew runs out and I am waiting for another batch, I turn to beers from Millstream Brewery in Amana.  The brewery is only about 20 miles from my house and the John’s Grocery Generations White Ale is a great summer beer:

Heck, it is a good anytime beer.  I picked up a six pack this week while I wait for the honey kolsch to come out of the carboy.  The beer was brewed for the 50th anniversary of Iowa City institution and beer emporium John’s Grocery in 2002.  It has been in production ever since.  Anyone familiar with the area knows John’s Grocery.  It’s that famous and that good.  Plus, they also make great root beer.

So, when you are in Fort Collins follow your folly and drink from New Belgium.  In St. Louis drink from Schafly or new guy Four Hands.  In Hawaii grab a Primo or something from the most excellent people at Maui Brewing. In Minneapolis the choices seem endless, but I am partial to Surly and newcomer Lucid.  And in eastern Iowa seek out Millstream.  There are too many great local breweries in the U.S.–over 1,700 and growing–to spend your days wedded to one brand nationally.

Besides, isn’t drinking tall boys of PBR just a little passe.