We attended the Beer ‘n’ Bread event at Living History Farms on Saturday, March 5th. The event featured home brews courtesy of the cleverly acronymed Iowa Brewers Union and Beer Crazy, some local breweries, including
Court Avenue Brewing Company, Millstream Brewing Co., Madhouse Brewing Company, Olde Main Brewing Company and Restaurant, Peace Tree Brewing Co., and Raccoon River Brewing Company, and several artisan bread makers, including South Union Bakery, Great Harvest Bread Co., The Beer Bread Company, and cheese from Cabot Creamery.
We sampled a lot of beer. It was all great beer. I can’t believe I drank bad rice beer for so long without any understanding that there were brewers out there who were making truly great beer. The craft beer movement has clearly taken hold here in Iowa and Iowa beer drinkers have absolutely nothing to fear about locally produced brews. Faced with such a cornucopia of fantastic beer we can perhaps be faulted if we didn’t take a lot of time to savor every drop and to take extensive notes. Maybe next year. Given the fact that this event sold out long before the doors opened, I suspect that there will be another “Beer ‘n’ Bread next year. It must warm the hearts of those who have been slogging away for years perfecting their craft to see that people are appreciating the harvest of their hard work. I had Our Man in Omaha help out with this entry.
- Off Kilter Scottish Ale
This beer is advertised as having a subdued hop flavor and aroma and a high malt flavor. I thought that this Ale was very true to the taste of British Ales bought and drunk in Britain. I can’t say that I’ve tried many Scottish Ales when overseas, so I’ll leave that distinction to the experts. The malt was definitely stronger than the typical American Pale Ale.
- Sodbuster Stout
We both agreed that this was a fantastic stout. The main aroma and taste was caramel and malt. This is a darker beer and though it is described as having a pronounced hop presence, I’d describe it as being balanced more toward the malt and not too different than some Belgium beers. It felt a little lighter than many other stouts we’ve had. Most importantly, it was not cloying and we both agreed that we could drink a whole bottle and keep on going.
Court Avenue Brewing Company Court Avenue Brewing showed up with some of their premium beers. I’d not encountered these at their brewpub so I was eager to give them a try.
- 21st Amendment Ale
This is a very good and hoppy beer, not unlike an IPA but with a richer malt taste. Our Man in Omaha noted a distinct but pleasant whiskey taste.
The fact that this is a blend of a Belgian style dubbel and a Flemish brown ale got me to try this beer. I was warned that it was fermented with raspberries and true enough, it has a pretty strong raspberry flavor. I don’t think it needs the raspberries, and I’d really like to try it without.
This IPA was well balanced between malt and hops. It was easy to drink and very good.
This is a cloudy “Wit” Belgian style beer. It was reminiscent of some Belgian beers I’ve had in that it is bready, but not in a bad way. This is a very drinkable beer, and especially good if you like that style of beer (which I do).
This is a very good pale ale with a lot of hops and a resulting bitterness. We were told it has a IBU of 38 (correct us if we got that wrong), which puts it pretty high on the list for not being an IPA.
The Iowa Brewers Union is not a brewery, but a home brew club chartered by the American Homebrewers Association. These men and women know their beer. I was totally blown away by the quality of their beer. I have to be honest that I was worried that the challenge of making small batch craft homebrewed beer might have been too much for them. But I can tell you with complete confidence that the dozen or more beers that they brought were of the highest quality. There was not a dud in the bunch. The variety was also amazing. There were beers with hops, beers with malt, beers with caramel, chocolate and vanilla.
- Vanilla Caramel Cream
True to its description, this beer tastes like caramel and vanilla cream. It was very sweet and wonderful to drink, though I don’t know that I’d drink a lot of it in one sitting. When I last checked the leaderboard, this beer was far out in front in terms of popularity.
- Weizen Doppelbock
This beer tasted like apples to me. It was very strong and not for the faint-hearted.
- Bourbon Barrel Dead Dude
A very flavorful, strong and malty beer. Not to be taken casually. You have to want to drink a beer like this.
- Black IPA “Groomes”
This was one of our favorites from the whole event. It had a very round flavor with good balance despite being an IPA and topped itself off with the interesting aftertaste of a T-Bone Steak cooked on a charcoal grill.
- Black IPA “Dow”
This was similar to the “Groomes” but Our Man in Omaha thought that the balance was tipped more toward hops.
I can’t end this blog entry without some mention of fine artisan breads that were available. The South Union had a number of different breads that they were handing out, including a jalapeno that was very intense. Great Harvest had a variety of cheese and multigrain breads. Our favorite was The Bread Company beer bread. This beer had honey and oatmeal that resulted in a very sweet bread with a sugary, crispy crust. I could eat this bread for dinner. The best part is that you can buy the mixes by filling out a form or by picking some up at Living History Farms, the Heart of Iowa Marketplace along with a lot of other locations in Iowa. The Iowa Brewers Union even made some bread and granola out of spent grains that was quite tasty.