Iowa City Wave, Backpocket’s newest beer, will benefit the UI Children’s Hospital

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Iowa City Wave, a smoothie-esque IPA, contains 5.5 percent ABV and a 29 IBU score. — photo by Emma McClatchey

Backpocket Brewery is honoring Iowa City’s newest and most buzzed-about tradition with something new of their own: a milkshake India Pale Ale dubbed “Iowa City Wave.”

Set for release Friday, Nov. 3 — though it was made available to mug club members Thursday — the citrus IPA is named after “the Wave,” a custom begun at the start of the 2017 Hawkeye football season in which spectators at Kinnick Stadium wave towards patients and families in the windows of the new Stead Family Children’s Hospital at the end of the first quarter. The feel-good gesture was quickly regarded as one of the best traditions in college football, and has seen national news coverage.

In the spirit of the Wave, $1 of every pour of Iowa City Wave will be donated to the University of Iowa Children’s Hospital.

It’s not unusual for Backpocket to put out an experimental brew — this fall, they’ve had about one a week, most recently their first pumpkin beer — but Reid Overton, taproom manager at Coralville’s Backpocket location, said this one checks off a couple of the brewers’ goals. For one, it’s their second and most successful attempt to create a peach beer. Iowa City Wave is an adjunct brew, which means it’s a beer with added flavoring — in this case, peach puree, lactose and vanilla bean.

The hazy appearance of the beer is a sign of quality, Overton said.

“It’s common with cherry beer, for example, to taste very cherry-y. It gives me that cough syrup vibe which tells me they used an extract,” Overton explained. “When you hear ‘peach’ you might expect a big punch, but because we use real fruit, it doesn’t end up tasting like a Popsicle.”

Indeed, the Wave’s peach flavor is more of a secondary taste and a complement to the hops, creating an intriguing twist on your typical India Pale Ale.

The beer’s name fulfilled another of Backpocket’s objectives. Overton said he and other Iowa City natives on staff had been meaning to make a beer that pays homage to Hawkeye football. With Iowa City Wave, they not only nabbed a trademark-free title, but a way to both honor and contribute to the growing awareness of children’s hospital patients and their families by Hawk fans.

“In the naming process, sometimes the name comes before the beer and sometimes the beer comes before the name. In this case, the beer came before the name,” Overton said. “We liked the vibes that came from the Wave — how every week, ESPN does a little update on it, and how it brings such support for the hospital and community — and thought it’d be a cool way to give back to our humble community.”

Though IPAs and fruit-flavored beers are usually associated with summer, Overton said the new brew’s “milkshake” qualities make it more suited for the cooler months. The opaque color and full flavor make it at least somewhat comparable to the milk stout, a fall and winter staple.

This first and perhaps only batch of Iowa City Wave is limited, and likely won’t be available outside the three Backpocket locations in Coralville, Cedar Rapids and Dubuque. But if the peachy IPA receives a positive enough response from customers, Overton said it could graduate to a seasonal or even year-round brew.

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It’s a happy coincidence, Overton said, that the Wave is being released a day before the Iowa football team plays Ohio State, their first match-up since 2013. He said they hope fans grabbing a pint before the game will find Iowa City Wave satisfying, in more ways than one.

“It will be up to the public to decide if the name fits,” Overton said. “It’s a fun name for a fun beer.”

The Iowa Hawkeyes will play the Ohio State Buckeyes at 2:30 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 4 at Kinnick Stadium. It is the season’s Military Appreciation Game, and fans should dress in black. The Wave is expected after the first quarter, as per tradition.

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