’Tis the season of Oktoberfests, tailgates, haunted houses, film festivals and some of the best beer releases of the year. Starting in mid-August, Iowa brewers begin announcing the debut of German-style lagers, fall flavors, special collabs and session beers, ideal for sipping as you take in some live, local tunes.
Keep an eye out for these fresh suds in taprooms and at festivals throughout the fall.
Confluence Brewing Company
1235 Thomas Beck Rd, Des Moines
You don’t come across a session hazy everyday — Yard Yachting clocks in at just 4.5% ABV, barely stronger than a Bud Light — but you can count on Confluence to pull it off without sacrificing the full, bright citrus flavor of the IPA.
Hold My Pretzel
325 Commercial St, Waterloo
128 Main St, Cedar Falls
303 Scott Ave, Des Moines
When SingleSpeed hosts their second-annual Oktoberfest celebration on Sept. 16 in Waterloo, their festbier Hold My Pretzel (5.9% ABV) will likely be a popular choice. This German-inspired lager is gold as Bavarian cream, boasting floral, spice and honey-sweet notes.
Lion Bridge Brewing Company
59 16th Ave SW, Cedar Rapids
If you like your coffee black, you might just like your beer that way, too. This black ale (7% ABV) is infused with enough Dash Coffee Roasters dark roast to wake the dead, which is how you might feel after a trip to Bloomsbury Farm’s Scream Acres this Halloween season — Zombie Awakening is a collaboration between Lion Bridge and the Atkins-based haunt (open Oct. 6-28).
Wilson’s Orchard & Farm
4823 Dingleberry Rd NE, Iowa City; Des Moines location opening in 2024
A remastered version of one of the cidery’s original creations, Hoppleseed, this dry-hopped cider (6.9% ABV) boasts a thoughtful hop blend with “hints of citrus, tropical fruit, and ‘grassy dank-ness,’” according to Wilson’s description. Imagine smoking some fresh bud from a honeycrisp apple (in the best way).
7 Hills Brewing Company
1085 Washington St, Dubuque
Named in honor of the killer whales who’ve taken up the noble sport of luxury yacht hunting in recent years, this craft seltzer (6% ABV) will keep the summer going into the fall, featuring blue raspberry, coconut and a hue as blue as the Iberian coast.
1st Down Brewing Company
106 E Court Ave, Winterset
All hail corn ale! This collaboration between nano-brewery 1st Down, founded by former Cyclones football player Sam Anker and his wife Missy, and Peace Tree Brewing Company (locations in Knoxville and downtown Des Moines) was crafted in honor of legendary tackle Jack Trice (1902-1923), Iowa State’s first Black athlete. A portion of sales from this cardinal-red corn ale (5% ABV) — punctuated with caramel notes and a malty finish — benefit the Trice Legacy Foundation, “furthering its impact in helping Black students succeed, and helping to build a culture of doing better.”
I’m a Beerbie Girl
7700 University Ave Suite C, Clive
This rose beer is pink enough to bring back your Barbenheimer spirit! Made with prickly pear and hibiscus, Beerbie Girl (6% ABV) made a splash at the Great Taste of the Midwest festival in Madison, Wisconsin last month, and has its own pink 515 merch line.
Czech Premium Lager
Field Day Brewing Company
925 Liberty Way, North Liberty
Even the flagship beers from this North Liberty brewery are new, considering Field Day just opened its doors and taps to the public on Aug. 1, but the brewpub is already making some bold statements. This light, golden lager (5.5% ABV) is double decocted, a traditional microbrewing process that lengthens the brew time but pulls complex flavors from the malt. Grab a stein and get in line for duckpin bowling in the back!
Big Grove Brewery
101 W Main St, Solon
1225 S Gilbert St, Iowa City
555 17th St, Des Moines
Big Grove has grown like kudzu over the past decade, with a fourth location set to open this winter in Cedar Rapids. BG brewers are applying some of their magic to crafting a “beer that plants trees” — or at least helps fund tree planting. Good Grove (5.3% ABV) is a new fruited ale in a forest-green can, flavored with tree fruits: mango, pomegranate and lime. Big Grove has partnered with Trees Forever, a nonprofit working to improve Linn County’s tree canopy after the 2020 derecho, and have pledged to plant 400 trees in four years.
1525 High St, Des Moines
Let this 0% ABV, 21+ seltzer be your liquid herbage for the evening. Climbing Kites arrived earlier this year as “Iowa’s first cannabis-infused social beverage.” Every can includes hemp-derived CBD and THC — yes, it’s legal in Iowa, and yes, you’ll likely feel some effects after about 20-30 minutes (more answers at climbingkites.com/faqs). All four flavors are “all-natural, calorie free, vegan, gluten free, and alcohol free,” the brewers at Lua promise: Orange Mango (10 mg THC, 20 mg CBD), Pineapple Passion Fruit and Peach Prickly Pear (both 5 mg THC, 10 mg CBD), and Mixed Berry (10 mg THC, 20 mg CBD).
This article was originally published in Little Village’s September 2023 issue.