Good morning from a wet and rainy Cedar Rapids. It has been quite a while since our last check-in from this medium; not by design, more of a happening of circumstances. We’ve officially closed the doors on 2016, a year that many won’t look back on fondly because of a rash of deaths of beloved celebrities and a political arena marred by such negativity from both sides that in many ways it feels like the American public just went ten rounds with Tyson. But locally for Cedar Rapids and the Corridor the past year has been one of growth, if at times paired with uncertainty. NewBo has continued to build and add new shops and restaurants, and the Downtown District has evolved with additional new buildings on the horizon. Each new addition to our community that isn’t a chain seems to bring with it its own flair and sense of individuality that continues to build the strength and popularity of our area.
September offered its own scare to this progress however, as flood water predictions sent business owners and residents into an immediate frenzy of action coupled with feelings of fear and finally, hope. Flashbacks of 2008 certainly came to mind for many residents and if not for quick and efficient actions of countless volunteers and city workers we may have had a different outcome. Unfortunately though, some were left to fend for themselves to get through the flood such as Tornados, Mad Modern, and a few other businesses and buildings left outside of the protective barrier. There is still work to be done to make staving off the waters of the Cedar River easier, safer, and more efficient. For now, hopefully we can remember the Fall of 2016 for the way that our city came together, worked together, and helped one another. Before we look forward, lets live in the present for a moment, which means:
On to the beer!
Beer that I’ve been enjoying lately: Lakefront Riverwest Stein Beer
The current climate of beer in which the brewer is adding more and more hops, new hopping techniques, new experimental hops, and advertising variance between batches (something I still don’t understand) to appeal to a consumer ever-thirsty for newer and rarer beers is going to end up good for nobody by the end. Which is why sometimes it’s nice to go in the complete opposite direction for a reset. It could be a literal reset of the palate, or just a reset of the mind to go back and recognize that there are great beers that are simple, and clean, and readily available. Lakefront Riverwest Stein Beer is all of those things. Pouring a wonderfully clear amber color, you may notice the hops are subtle with the beer focusing more on a balanced malt profile that is just a hint sweet. A classic crisp lager finish rounds out what is a very well made beer. And at 5.6% its easily drinkable to boot. Or out of a boot as the Germans are sometimes known to do.
It’s a bit of a slow start to the year event-wise as we start to fill in 2017 but a couple things are on the calendar. First off we will have a small tapping party for Big Grove Buster the annual (triple?) Imperial IPA that comes with it the promise of endless amounts of juice. Be on the lookout on social media later this week as we set a for sure time that we will be tapping it.
Next up on the list we will be celebrating the IPAs of Summit Brewing Co. with their rep Eric Harlow on Thursday, March 9th at 5 pm. Harlow has a wealth of industry knowledge having worked at the distributor and brewery levels for years and will be on hand to hang out and have some pints.
Summit Brewing Co. IPA Celebration March 9th 5 pm.
Beer and Music Pairing:
It’s somewhat tragic when great things go unnoticed and fail to gain popularity outside of a small group of unwavering fans. Such is the case with Philadelphia band Le Fits, and Red IPAs. Not much can be found on the band Le Fits. Best I can tell, this self-tagged “90’s alternative french Hawaiian indie folk” band produced three albums and achieved local popularity which is where the details get hazy. From what I’ve gathered, the members parted ways after some time and the founder of the band Ben Riesman opened up his own recording studio in Philadelphia which is still open today.
Red IPAs also play to a small group of fans, often discounted by many. Maybe its the additional malt sweetness that steers away the “true IPA” fans. Perhaps they’re not stingingly bitter enough for others. But for some, that person that loves hops, and a well balanced malt profile in a beer, great Red IPAs that can be enjoyed over and over again are something to be cherished; much like a great song that can be repeated time and time again.
The convergence of these two gives us Le Fits – Pantache and Odell Runoff Red IPA. With influential sounds coming through from Dire Straits, Lou Reed, and Pavement, the sharp guitar riff of Pantache plays out simultaneously from the first sip with a burst of hop bite from Runoff Red. A Juicy-Fruit like aroma of citrusy hops jumps out of the deep amber and garnet colored liquid and the smooth sweet malt flavor goes right along with the mellow, almost seductive vocal tones of Riesman.
Take note of the overlooked – often times there is something great hidden there, and who knows how long it may be around.
And so we’ve emerged now in 2017, with a fresh slate so to speak. The year ahead may seem to be daunting for some, and promising for others. But I believe that locally at least, we can make this year to be what we choose it to be. We can be supporting of the efforts to make our community better, safer, and more prosperous. Actions by one individual can make a real impact on a city such as ours. Hopefully at this time next year, we can remember back on a great year.