RAGBRAI 2015… What you need to know. Part 3 At last craft breweries!
If you have experienced RAGBRAI and have read part two of the blog, you likely realize two things:
- There is a hell of a lot of fun to be had on RAGBRAI.
- The craft BEER options can be few and far between in Iowa.
So far, we have made it through Sioux City, Storm Lake, Fort Dodge and Eldora, Iowa without a single craft brewery. During this long and difficult time, I will be counting on the Iowa Craft BEER Tent to keep the tasty craft brews flowing. So what does the rest of the ride have in store?
Cedar Falls, IA Overnight Town 5
- Date: July 22, 2015
- Population: 39,260
- Founded: 1845 by William Sturgis. Originally called Sturgis Falls.
- RAGBRAI Stats: This will be Cedar City’s 5th time as an overnight town. The last time was in 2007.
- Craft Breweres: Single Speed Brewing– 128 Main Street- Cedar Falls, IA 50613 (319) 266-3581. Finally a craft brewery on RAGBRAI and one with a cycling theme no less. I actually met a couple guys from Single Speed Last year as they were handing out stickers and samples of IPA Blanco, their White IPA. It is hard to admit this as a northwest native, the epicenter of over-hopped beers, is not a hop head. Typically, I am not a fan of white IPA’s. I feel the subtle flavors of a white cannot hold up to the intense bitterness of heavy hops. However, I did think that IPA Blanco is a well crafted beer. I really am looking forward to seeing the brewery and trying out more of their tasty brews.
- The Lowdown: Cedar Falls, home of The University of Northern Iowa has a lot of history. It is home to the Ice House Museum, The John Deere Tractor and Engine Museum in neighboring Waterloo, the National Wrestling Hall of fame Museum in neighboring Waterloo and the Victorian Home and Carriage Museum typically open Saturday and Sunday, they may make special arrangements for RAGBRAI. That is more than enough to make the museum dork in me happy. If the heat is too much, I may just have to cool off at the Falls Aquatic Center.
- Trivia: Cedar Falls is the smaller of the two cities in the Waterloo – Cedar Falls Metropolitan Area.
Day 5: Thursday: Cedar Falls, IA to Hiawatha, IA. Distance: 69.6 Miles Elevation Gain: 2,669 feet. Finally a day that isn’t so flat! Thank goodness! As a northwest native, it does not feel like cycling unless I get to go up hill. Climbs and descents provide a lovely change of pace and position of the bike during a long day in the saddle. It is the flats that make me struggle. Grinding out mile after mile in the same position can be grueling. Another day and a bit of climbing will be just what I need to really get into the flow of RAGBRAI. Day 5 will be fun!
Hiawatha, IA Overnight town 6
- Date: July 23, 2015
- Population: 7,024
- Incorporated: 1950
- RAGBRAI Stats: This will be Hiawatha’s second time as an overnight town. It was also a pass through town in 1994.
- Craft Breweries: Sadly Hiawatha, a superb of Cedar Rapids does not officially have any craft beer options. But there are enough options close by to more than make up for it. Cedar Rapids has 2 craft breweries and a cycling themed bar.
- Lion Bridge Brewing– 59 16th Ave SW Cedar Rapids, IA 52404 (319) 200 4460. Located about 7 miles from Hiawatha, Lion Bridge has anywhere from 8-12 beers on tap with a beer-centric food’ menu to compliment the tasty adult beverages. Lion Bridge is located in the Czech Village New Bohemia District of Cedar Rapids and the brewery building is part of that historic urban fabric. As a side note, I like their logo and will definitely be picking up a pint glass.
- Third Base Brewery– 500 Blairs Ferry Rd. NE Cedar Rapids, IA 52402 (319) 378 9090. This brewery, only two miles from Hiawatha Elementary will surely be a popular spot for the RAGBRAI crowd. It will only be a short stumble home to wherever they stick the RAGBRAI campground! They have 5 beers on tap plus seasonal offerings. In addition, third base has a full menu.
- Sag Wagon Deli and Brew – 827 Shaver Rd NE Cedar Rapids, IA 52402 (319) 366 3265. So I admit that this is not a brewery, but a bike themed bar and deli located on a bike trail?! That is pretty damn hard to resist! Sag Wagon is only about 4 miles from Hiawatha and looks to be worth a stop!
- The Lowdown: Hiawatha was founded in 1950 by Fay Clark, a local business man. As a result, there is not a lot of history in Hiawatha, but they make up for it with enthusiasm. Just head to their website and read their RAGBRAI selection press release. It is clear that they are elated to be overrun with so many spandex clad bikers. It’s awesome! There is a lot going on in Cedar Rapids, including the African American Museum, the first US Muslim Cemetery and Mosque and the Czech Village New Bohemia District of Cedar Rapids, however I will be sure to show some love to the host town.
- Trivia: Hiawatha was named after the founder’s (Fay Clark) trailer business.
Day 6: Friday: Hiawatha, IA to Iowa River Landing/Coralville. Distance: 57.9 Miles Elevation Gain: 2,600 Feet. The tip of the day is hydration. It should be the tip of every day of RAGBRAI. It will likely be hot and humid. However, last night you had a wonderful assortment of breweries in Cedar Rapids. If you are drinking beer! You better be drinking more water than normal. At a minimum I down one (usually two) bottles of water at every food stop. I also drink at least a bottle between stops while riding. If I stop for a beer, you guessed it… I add more water. I have yet to start a day of RAGBRAI with a hangover. I intend to keep it that way. You should too! Drink your water! It’s good for you!
Iowa River Landing at Coralville, IA Overnight Town 7
- Date: July 24, 2015
- Population: 20, 092
- Incorporated: 1873
- RAGBRAI Stats: This will be Coralville’s fourth time as an overnight town. The last time was in 2011.
- Craft Breweries: Cedar Rapids and and Hiawatha smiled on the Iowa beer gods. Coralville keeps the party rolling with Back Pocket Brewing. Nearby Iowa City, Home of the University of Iowa does not have a single craft brewery. What are we teaching these kids?
- Back Pocket Brewing – 903Quarry Road Coralville, IA 52241 (319) 466 4444. I actually was lucky enough to sample Back Pocket’s brews at the main stage in Independence, IA in 2014. Up until that point, I was under the assumption that the main stage only offered flavor free beers. What a relief! Back Pocket Brewing features an open air brewery tasting room all housed in a single space. It is always fun to be in the midst of the brewery while tasting craft beers. Back Pocket features five year round beers in addition to seasonal, storied, and lab series beers. All of Back Pocket’s beers adhere to the German Purity Laws or reinheitsgebot. This is pretty cool, but it means if you are a fan of fruit beer, you will be disappointed.
- The Lowdown: Coralville was named after the fossils that make up the limestone found in the area. Coralville is also home to the Edgewater Park Site. This 3,800 year old archaeological site is being operated by the University of Iowa. Coralville’s development began in 1843 with the construction of the Coralville dam. It was also a stopping site for 1,300 Mormon pioneer’s as they began their trek to Salt Lake City in 1856. They rode the rails to Iowa city which was the furthest west rail stop at the time. While in Coralville, have a beer to remember the rough journey they endured. For museum dorks, check out the Johnson County Historical Museum. Neighboring Iowa City has a population of 67,862 and is the home of the University of Iowa.
- Trivia: Iowa City was the original capitol city of Iowa, but it was moved to DesMoines in 1857. As compensation for the loss of the capitol, the University of Iowa was located in Iowa City.
Day : Saturday: Iowa River Landing/Coralville, IA to Davenport, IA. Distance: 64.2 Miles Elevation Gain: 1,200 Feet. I have done two RAGBRAIs and the last day was not my favorite either time. The Iowa Craft Beer Tent is nowhere to be seen. Everyone is in a hurry to get done and get on with their travel arrangements. Even though the last day of RAGBRAI 2014 was the best day of riding I did not get really savor the experience. This year and in the future, I want to prioritize taking some time to enjoy the last day of RAGBRAI.
Davenport, IA End Town.
- Date: July 25, 2015
- Population: 98,359
- Incorporated: 1839
- RAGBRAI Stats: End town on the first RAGBRAI, 1982 and 2011.
- Craft Breweries: There are plenty of craft breweries to be found in the Davenport and the quad cities area. As a result, you may want to linger and enjoy while the dirty RAGBRAI masses struggle to leave the city. Take time to savor the 462 miles with 15,948 feet of elevation gain you have ridden in the past week. That is an accomplishment that your couch surfing bretheren cannot understand. Here are the Davenport Craft Breweries:
- Great River Brewery – 332 E 2nd St. Davenport, IA 52801 (563) 323 5210. Located only a couple blocks from the river, odds are Great River will be close to the tire dip site. Great River offers 8 year round brews in addition so seasonal offerings. They can their beer at Great River and I can tell you that the folks at there have some nice looking cans. Can you fly with canned beer in your checked bag? As a special bonus Artisan Grain Distillery is next door. Just be sure to go easy and drink your water!
- Front Street Brewery – 2 Locations, Tap Room 421 W River Dr. Davenport, IA 52801 (563) 324 4014. Pub and Eatery 208 River Drive Davenport, IA 52801. 563 322 1569. Having a second option is great if one is two busy. Front Street Brewery is only a Couple Blocks from Great River. Front Street has 8 brews on tap including a Cherry Ale, Heffe and a Vanilla Porter. The menu at the eatery doesn’t look bad either.
- Blue Cat Brew Pub – 113 18th St. Rock Island, IL 61201 309 788 8247. Crossing the river into Illinois will reward you with more brew pub options. Blue Cat may not have the most flashy website, but I am very amused by their beer names. Two examples are Abbey…..Something and Blue Bastard Baltic Porter.
- Bent River Brewing – 2 Locations, Brewery and tasting Room 512 24th St. Rock Island, IL 61201 (309) 283 4811. Brew Pub 1413 5th Ave Moline, IL 61265 (309) 797 2722. Bent River’s year round offerings include 2 stouts, a dry hopped beer and a Jalapeno. This is certainly an interesting menu. Looking at the beer statistics, none of them are going to blow you away with hop bitterness. I am just a little frightened of the Jalapeno Pepper Ale.
- Radicle Effects Breworks – 1340 31st St. Rock Island, IL 61201 (309) 283 7605. Radicle effects calls themselves the Quad Cities first nano brewery. BTW. A nano brewery is a brewery whose brew capacity is 3 barrels or less. (Note: A barrel is 31 gallons.) Nano brewing is a new term to me. The small size means you never know what will be on hand when you go in. At the time of this post, the house offering is Radicle Effects Black Tongue, a coffee stout. In addition to the house beer, they have a plethora of guest taps and a food menu.
- The Lowdown: Davenport is the largest of the cities of the Quad Cities. According to Wikipedia, the quad cities are made up of Davenport, IA; Bittendorf, IA; Rock Island, IL; Moline, IL and East Moline, IL. Does anyone know why the ‘quad city’ area has five cities? Well quad cities name caught on while the area was still developing. Bittendorf grew to a size to equal Moline creating five cities. There was an unsuccessful move to call the area the Quint Cities. John Deere, located in Moline is the area’s second largest employer. Davenport is home to the Bix Beiderbeke Memorial Jazz festival on of the largest jazz festivals in the US. Museum dorks should check out the Figge Art Museum. History and architecture dorks should check out the Scott County Historic Society for cool places to visit. Fourteen miles from Davenport in LeClaire, IA, the home of Antique Archeology. History channel watchers will know all about it and their hot tattooed employee Danielle. There is a hell of a lot to do in Davenport. You should not be leaving too soon.
- Trivia: Davenport is home to NFL running back Roger Craig. I am ashamed to admit that I know this, but it is also the home of wrastler Seth Rollins. If you don’t know him for his wrastling antics, perhaps you heard that his naughty bits are floating around the internet. Euw!
There you have it. Where to get craft beer on this year’s RAGBRAI. I hope my little guide is useful and informative. Still want more? Fret not!!! RAGBRAI.com just released an interactive route map. Up nest is a bonus RAGBRAI special report featuring Pass through Craft Breweries. Stay tuned!