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The Hops: Duvel's Maredsous Brune 8

Ironically, a beer once brewed by celibate monks is an ideal beer for Valentines Day: Maredsous Brune 8.

Though it is now contract-brewed by Duvel, Maredsous Brune 8 is still a showcase of Benedictine abstinence. It is a dubbel that can be served in a tulip glass or chalice. The color is very deep brown. Three fingers of slightly tinted, thick head will settle to a thin lacing. It smells a little wine-like, but thankfully it is all beer with scents of yeast, caramel, toffee, fig, plum, apple, red grapes, brown sugar, spice and molasses. The taste is surprisingly dark and roasted with flavors of caramel, toffee, brown sugar and molasses. An earthy hop bite lingers on the cheeks and tongue after each sip and black pepper spice eventually emerges. The dark fruits, especially the red grape flavor, sneak in as the beer warms, but they are not as prominent as they are in the smell. […]

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The Hops: Millstream Brewery's Back Road Stout

Politically speaking, Rick Santorum and I are a couple universes apart. However, to my amazement we apparently have one thing in common: an appreciation for good beer. Last month Santorum made a campaign stop at the Millstream Brewing Company in Amana and enjoyed a pint of Back Road Stout–an excellent oatmeal stout I coincidentally decided to make January’s beer of the month. […]

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The Hops: Breckenridge Christmas Ale

It is once again time for celebratory holiday beers and winter warmers. While some are sub-par and gratuitous (another excuse to add a truckload of hops to a handful of malts), others gain such praise that they are brewed year-round. Some are even worthy of cellaring and comparing with previous holiday vintages. […]

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The Hops: Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier Märzen

October is my favorite month. Sweatshirt weather, colorful foliage, Big Ten football and Halloween spookiness. It cannot be beat. The evening air is tinged with the campfire-like smoke of wood-burning stoves and far-off burn piles in the country, giving the month its own aroma. Whenever I catch that scent, I think of cool October evenings […]

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The Hops: Hefeweizen

August kind of sucks. Summer vacation ends (for those who still have it), there is no reason to drive to Missouri for fireworks and the beginning of football season is painfully close. Basically, it is 31 days of heat, humidity and perseverance. Thankfully, there is hefeweizen. Brewed with over 50 percent malted wheat, refreshing on […]

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The Hops: Native Brew

Though it may look like any other fountain of sudsy goodness, the tap line behind the bar at Short’s Burger & Shine (18 South Clinton St.) is an icon. Its ever-changing cast of 10 Iowa-brewed beers symbolizes… […]

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The Hops: 438 Pale Ale

Brew of the Month: May Great River Brewery – 483 Pale Ale Brewer: Great River Brewery of Davenport, Iowa. Style: Pale Ale. Alcohol content: 5.4 percent ABV. Food pairings: The hoppiness pairs well with curried cuisine such as Thai or Indian, but will also go well with classic burgers off the grill on a warm […]

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The Hops: Left Hand Brewing Company Milk Stout

Not only does the March equinox mark the change of seasons, the transition to spring swings beer cravings back toward the light, citrusy and often hoppier brews enjoyed during T-shirt and shorts weather. But screw that. There is tons of time for IPAs and hefeweizens later. March means St. Patrick’s Day, when the Chicago River […]

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The Hops: Samuel Smith’s Oatmeal Stout

My original plan for February was to tap into Valentine’s Day tradition and recommend a beer reminiscent of the chocolate-covered cherries and dark fruit given to sweethearts across the world. However, the chocolate/fruit brews I sampled were downright awful. So I decided to substitute cherry with caramel. The coupling of chocolate and caramel not only […]

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