Tour de Tanks launches across Iowa

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In conjunction with American Craft Beer Week, over 50 Iowa Brewers Guild (IBG) member breweries opened their doors to beer lovers for Tour de Tanks, a daylong series of free VIP tours on May 21.

An event I’d long wanted to make happen, I organized this affair for my day job as Minister of Iowa Beer. I thought it would be not only a good way to promote all the breweries in one fell swoop, but to educate consumers about the brewing process as well. Long ago, I’d been wowed by a zwickel sample of a Pilsner beer, and just knew that if others could taste a beer both early in the fermentation process and again in its final form, they too would find blinking light bulbs appear above their head.

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When the long-awaited day of special tours and zwickel pours arrived, I set off with my uncle and cousin to to hit up a few spots in the Des Moines area: Twisted Vine Brewery (new, expanded location), Wing Nutt Brewing Company (not quite open yet), Reclaimed Rails Brewing Company (DCoy’s new digs), New American Brewing Company (no tap room but moving and expanding to that soon), and 515 Brewing Company (Barb and her beers are nice).

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I went out of my way to make no plan and really only figured we’d hit three places, but with a relaxed attitude, small samples, and good conversation, all the sudden we managed five. From my viewpoint, it was a really fun day offering many perspectives on the same lovely beverage. For those new to the scene, I think it was a good look into how ingredients and fermentation make their mark on the finished product. For me, it was fun to see friends interact with their fans and tell the stories of not only their businesses, but also the beers themselves.

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In addition to Tour de Tanks, the day unveiled the Guild’s Iowa Beer Trails program. Beer travelers can pick up maps at participating breweries to guide their ongoing beer travels around the state. When visiting a brewery, staff will stamp this “passport” and once all breweries in each of six trails have been visited, beer travelers will receive a button marking their accomplishment. With a little time and effort, focused travelers can collect them all.

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There are six Iowa Beer Trails to discover: Western Iowa, Central Iowa, Des Moines Metro, Northeast Iowa, Corridor and Southeast Iowa.

With the goal of encouraging beer enthusiasts to get out and explore not only Iowa’s breweries, but also to learn a little more about the entire brewing process, the day did well to prove that whether you like ’em hoppy, mild, roasty, or wild, Iowa’s brewing industry has something for just about everyone.

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