It’s that time of year when bicyclists are hitting the trails and country roads hard, training for RAGBRAI. One popular and effective (some may even say masochistic) route runs from Iowa City to the old Sutliff Bridge via the beastly hills of Sugar Bottom Road. It is a ride worthy of the beer of the month — Arms Race Pale Ale, conveniently brewed and served along the route at Solon’s Big Grove Brewery.
According to Big Grove brewer Josh Seiler, Arms Race was developed a few years ago in response to the “arms race” of single-hopped pale ales brewed with citra hops. It is Big Grove’s most popular beer and it is easy to understand why — the aroma is enticing and the flavor is delicious! Seiler said the brewery reserves all of its citra hops for its weekly batches of Arms Race.
Arms Race is a hazy amber color. A finger or so of light tan–colored, dense, shiny head features a couple of bubbles and will dissipate slowly and evenly, leaving short trails of lacing along the glass. The aroma is inviting, with a bold bouquet of citrus and tropical fruit. Among the scents are grapefruit, orange, mango, pineapple, perhaps a touch of pine and floral hops. The flavor is just as bold as the aroma, though it is much more of a well-balanced medley. Flavors of grapefruit, orange, mango, pineapple and floral hops complement caramel. Alcohol is noticeable but far from overpowering or distracting. A pleasing bitterness lingers on the taste buds.
If you’re training, remember to wear your helmet and reflective gear, and hydrate with water (alcohol will dehydrate you). Work those hills!
Alcohol Content: 6.2 percent ABV.
Food pairings: Seiler said he prefers to pair Arms Race with foods that offer a spicy kick, like Thai and Mexican cuisine. For those dining at Big Grove, he recommends pairing with the brewery’s chorizo tacos and Korean barbecue wings.
Where to buy: Arms Race Pale Ale is available at the Big Grove Brewery (101 West Main Street, Solon). It is also on tap at George’s, Deadwood, Brick’s Bar and Grill and Need Pizza.
Price: A pint at Big Grove costs $5, and a growler can be filled at the brewery for $14.
This article was originally published in Little Village issue 202.