Eastern Iowa Beer Tiers

laminak

Well-Known Member
Jun 13, 2010
4,129
4,230
113
Marion
Starting a thread for the microbreweries on the east side of the state, similar to the DSM tiers. Since we’re more spread-out, will have some TBDs in this:

Tier A
Big Grove (Solon/IC)
Toppling Goliath (Decorah)
Lion Bridge (CR)
Dimensional (Dubuque)

Tier B
Iowa Brewing Co (CR)
Third Base (CR)
Single Speed (Waterloo)
7 Hills (Dubuque)
ReUnion (Coralville)

Tier C
Quarter Barrel (CR)
Clock House (CR)
Backpocket (Coralville)
Kalona (Kalona)

Tier D
Granite City (CR)
Millstream (Amana)

Tier F
Thew Brewing (CR)

TBD (for me):
Franklin Street (Manchester)
Front Street (Davenport)
House Divided (Ely)
Jubeck (Dubuque)
Pulpit Rock (Decorah)
 

trevn

Well-Known Member
Apr 10, 2006
1,973
2,936
113
West-Eastern Iowa
Starting a thread for the microbreweries on the east side of the state, similar to the DSM tiers. Since we’re more spread-out, will have some TBDs in this:

Tier A
Big Grove (Solon/IC)
Toppling Goliath (Decorah)
Lion Bridge (CR)
Dimensional (Dubuque)

Tier B
Iowa Brewing Co (CR)
Third Base (CR)
Single Speed (Waterloo)
7 Hills (Dubuque)
ReUnion (Coralville)

Tier C
Quarter Barrel (CR)
Clock House (CR)
Backpocket (Coralville)
Kalona (Kalona)

Tier D
Granite City (CR)
Millstream (Amana)

Tier F
Thew Brewing (CR)

TBD (for me):
Franklin Street (Manchester)
Front Street (Davenport)
House Divided (Ely)
Jubeck (Dubuque)
Pulpit Rock (Decorah)

I live in Ely and have tried most of these. House Divided is probably a C at this point for me. I live a few blocks away from the place but haven't spent much time there or tried as many of their beers as I wanted. Really good people from what I can tell, but I just haven't been wowed yet.


I've had even less Thew Brewing so I don't know that I can accurately grade it. I'm curious why you gave it a low grade?
 

laminak

Well-Known Member
Jun 13, 2010
4,129
4,230
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Marion
I live in Ely and have tried most of these. House Divided is probably a C at this point for me. I live a few blocks away from the place but haven't spent much time there or tried as many of their beers as I wanted. Really good people from what I can tell, but I just haven't been wowed yet.


I've had even less Thew Brewing so I don't know that I can accurately grade it. I'm curious why you gave it a low grade?

My wife likes IPAs, Sours, and fruity beers, while I like all of the others (lagers/porters/stouts/ales not IPAs). So when we go to a microbrewery, we get our flights, then get a drink of our favorite one and/or get some to-go. Thew was the only brewery we ever had where we both disliked their beers and got a beer not from them there.

So for example, I placed Quarter Barrel a C, due to my wife not liking their beers while I love some of their beers (although they can be hit-and-miss). When we go there, she gets beer not from them.
 

risiusj

Well-Known Member
Feb 21, 2010
448
361
63
Cedar Falls
I'm about to try some Pulpit Rock and am looping forward to that.
Also, keep a look out for Pivo Brewery. They're from Calmar just SW of Decorah. I don't know if they have any cans our bottles distributed, but everything I've tried from them has been good to great.
 

cyfanatic

Well-Known Member
Oct 18, 2006
5,071
930
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Cedar Rapids, Iowa
With the new ownership of Millstream I will give them credit for trying to branch out at bit! That place got too stale...hoping for good things from new management!
 

BACyclone

Well-Known Member
Mar 27, 2011
652
581
93
Reinbeck, IA
I'm about to try some Pulpit Rock and am looping forward to that.
Also, keep a look out for Pivo Brewery. They're from Calmar just SW of Decorah. I don't know if they have any cans our bottles distributed, but everything I've tried from them has been good to great.

Good call. I knew there was one missing on this list, and that's definitely one. I can't say I've had the pleasure to have more than a couple of theirs, but they have to be in the range of B or C tier.
 

NickTheGreat

Well-Known Member
Jan 17, 2012
9,019
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Central Iowa
I've only been to Lion Bridge in person, so it's #1 for me. :jimlad:

Obviously I like TG beers (and Pulpit) so those are up there. Tier A's.

Tier B would be Big Grove. I like all their beer, but not sure I love them. I am excited for them to come to DSM, though. Backpocket is up here too.

I'd put Millstream at Tier C or D. I've had some okay beers and some no so good ones. Same with Kalona. I really liked their Oktoberfest, but in recent years it has fallen off. Just can's from HyVee, thoughl.

I went to Third Base in Cedar Rapids like 10 or 15 years ago and thought it was awful. Absolutely awful. I was just a burgeoning beer snob in those days but I don't remember liking any of it. Is this the same place people talk about now? Or is this a place with a similar sounding name.
 

BACyclone

Well-Known Member
Mar 27, 2011
652
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Reinbeck, IA
I just love Dimensional. They are right up there with any brewery in Iowa IMO. I just wish I could make more excuses to get to Dubuque. However be warned, the parking SUCKS there.

I stopped into 7hills a couple months ago for the first time, and frankly was disappointed about every beer I tried -- but the food was great. Great selection but probably C for me.

LOOK at these onion rings! omg

Snap10188.jpg
 
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1UNI2ISU

Well-Known Member
Jan 30, 2013
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Waterloo
You can put Second State in Cedar Falls into the C tier. Really solid but not spectacular and very, very consistent.

I'm apparently the only one the just doesn't get Dimensional. I mean, it's fine but I don't think its as good as SingleSpeed and not even in the same universe with TG, Lions Bridge or Iowa Brewing. Must just be me.

I thought Franklin Street in Manchester was terrible.
 

BACyclone

Well-Known Member
Mar 27, 2011
652
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93
Reinbeck, IA
Dimensional just kills it for NEIPAs in my book, and they do some great sours and stouts too.

However almost every NEIPA I've had from SingleSpeed seems to just miss the mark in my book. With so much else to choose from, I rarely pick up a SS brew any longer. They do have a cool taproom in Waterloo with good food, however.

I agree on Second State. They are really good at being OK. If you're in downtown CF and want to visit a brewery it's worth a stop.
 

cyfanatic

Well-Known Member
Oct 18, 2006
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Cedar Rapids, Iowa
My one and only experience with Thew was disappointing! Everything I tried/tasted just seemed a bit flat. It has been a couple of years though so hopefully they have improved. Lions Bridge has evolved a bit over its existence which I think was necessary! Visiting that place early it seemed they were trying to serve a crowd that might not have existed in the CR area...but their selections have changed and improved to the point that they are a player! As I have said in other posts...I really enjoy Big Grove and Single Speed a lot! Enjoy their beers and enjoy their locations. The more the merrier though! I haven't visited this place yet but I do think it was mentioned on CF before.. it is in Central City: https://www.bitbrew3.com/
 
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MJ29

Well-Known Member
Aug 21, 2020
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Has anyone tried out Contrary Brewing down in Muscatine? They look solid but have not had the opportunity yet.

I tried of beer of theirs at Uptown Brewing in Ankeny -- German Chocolate Cake (imperial brown ale) and it was amazing. I would love to try more of their stuff.
 
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Nader_uggghhh

Well-Known Member
Jul 11, 2017
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Adventurous and Pulpit are A's
I'd give Textile a low B
7 hills, Reunion, Third Base C at best
-7 hills does have really good food though
I'd give BIT a D
The little I've had from Maquoketa brewing was underwhelming.

I'd put Dimensional at the top of my list for Iowa. They don't make a single bad beer. Awesome IPA's, awesome sours, awesome stouts and they do the gimmicky stuff really well too. I'm excited for them to up their production next year.

Lion's Bridge is great for people who don't like the over fruited berliners and lactose filled beers. They stay true to style and the flavors are clean.
 

baller21

Well-Known Member
Mar 15, 2009
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I'm about to try some Pulpit Rock and am looping forward to that.
Also, keep a look out for Pivo Brewery. They're from Calmar just SW of Decorah. I don't know if they have any cans our bottles distributed, but everything I've tried from them has been good to great.

PR is definitely tier A- great IPA’s and stouts. Probably the best pastry sours I’ve had and all around good beer.

I’d put PIVO in tier B- a lot of variety including several medal winners at GABF. Last time I was there(May) they were working on getting a new bottler up and running
 
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1UNI2ISU

Well-Known Member
Jan 30, 2013
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Waterloo
PR is definitely tier A- great IPA’s and stouts. Probably the best pastry sours I’ve had and all around good beer.

I’d put PIVO in tier B- a lot of variety including several medal winners at GABF. Last time I was there(May) they were working on getting a new bottler up and running

I was at PIVO on Sunday and while it's always good, I thought it was exceptional this time. They've really hit their stride.

Said the bottler would be full go by September.
 

baller21

Well-Known Member
Mar 15, 2009
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I was at PIVO on Sunday and while it's always good, I thought it was exceptional this time. They've really hit their stride.

Said the bottler would be full go by September.

You know the first couple times I stopped at PIVO, which was shortly after they first opened, I didn’t think they were that good but since than they’ve really stepped it up. Sometimes it takes a bit to work out the little things that make a big difference in the taste. I’m really glad they did because we go up once or twice a year and having another good brewery in the area is great.
 

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