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Quad Cities – The Quad Cities has a long history of brewing beer with the numerous local breweries once in operation. One of the most successful and famous area breweries, Rock Island Brewing Co, was the product of two other breweries merging together in 1893. These breweries started in the early 1850s. Another brewery produced a “near beer” called Lily Beer to survive during Prohibition. Currently in the Quad Cities there are four local micro-breweries and a new distillery.
Joined by the Mississippi River, Moline/East Moline and Rock Island are the riverfront cities in Illinois, and Bettendorf and Davenport make up the cities on the Iowa side of the river. Together, these cities and the surrounding communities make up the Quad Cities.
Mississippi River Distilling Company is a brand-new micro-distillery that opened in December 2010 in LeClaire, Iowa, at 303 N. Cody Road. As one of only three distilleries in Iowa, their spirits are made from locally-grown corn and wheat in small handmade batches. Visitors can watch the process of vodka, gin, bourbon whiskey, and flavored whiskey being made from grain to glass. Free tours offered daily. www.mrdistilling.com
Bent River Brewery is a microbrewery/restaurant in downtown Moline, Illinois, housed in a turn-of-the-century building with plenty of indoor seating, and a private outdoor beer garden. They also feature live music on the weekends with rock, jazz, acoustic, and blues. As you sit at the long wooden bar, you can see the huge brewing vats at work brewing an average of 625 barrels each year. With at least 14 homemade beers on the menu, some of its more notable ones are Jalapeno Pepper Ale and Mississippi Red Lager.
Demand is driving Bent River Brewing Co. to open a second location, 15 years after the business got its start in Moline. Bent River Brewing Co. Rock Island, 512 24th Street, opened in May 2012 and has a tasting room (bar area), retail space, space for private parties, bottling equipment, and the Uncommon Beverage Station, a drive-through full-service coffee hut that also sells packaged Bent River beer to go. www.bentriverbrewery.com
The Blue Cat Brew Pub in downtown Rock Island, Illinois, features a comfortable atmosphere and a diverse menu, covering everything from hearty pub fare to light vegetarian cuisine. The Blue Cat focuses on crafting brews to complement and accent any meal. They generally have six micro-brews on tap, including three ales, one rotating stout, and two seasonal or specialty brews. The Blue Cat boats almost 40 different recipes of beer. The Blue Cat is especially well-known for its one-of-a-kind soup combinations. (Popular soup titles include Beer Bacon Cheese and Reuben.) They also host beer dinners with five courses and explanations of different brew combinations. An upstairs banquet room is available for parties. www.bluecatbrewpub.com
Front Street Brewery was the first of the new generation of micro-breweries in the area, and is the oldest brew pub in the State of Iowa. Located in a historic building in downtown Davenport, Iowa, it is an English-style brew pub, brewing hand-crafted beers on the premises with a casual dining atmosphere. They have an outdoor beer garden and a banquet room downstairs.
Front Street Brewery opened a new brew house and tasting room in April 2012 at the Freight House, 421 W. River Drive in Davenport, in order to expand their yearly production. www.frontstreetbrew.com
Great River Brewery had its beginnings as Old Capitol Brew Works, a brewpub started in Iowa City in 2004. The Brewery’s name was changed to Great River Brewery to reflect the new location in Davenport, Iowa, one block from the “great” Mississippi river. The equipment was moved in January 2009, brewing began in March, and the tasting room, The Brewers Lounge, opened in July.
They have eight beers in constant production, and seasonal brews. Their Hop-A-Potumus beer can just won a 2012 Canny Award for Use of Illustration. Brewmaster Scott Krutzfeldt prefers cans over bottles for beer quality, accessibility, and recycling.
They just started producing (non-alcoholic) River Rat Root Beer. Named in honor of environmentalist and river caretaker Chad Pregracke, a portion of the sales will benefit his organization of Living Lands & Waters.
Visit the brewer’s lounge at the brewery in downtown Davenport for a chance to meet the brewers. The brewery is also giving its spent grain to Augustana College's Farm to Fork program for animal feed. Great River beer is being served in restaurants around the area. www.greatriverbrewery.com
One festival for beer enthusiasts is WQPT’s Brew Ha Ha on Saturday, September 21, 2013, in LeClaire Park in downtown Davenport. Wet your palate with more than 200 samples of brews from Europe and right here in the Midwest. The event will include comedy, music and food along with the opportunity to learn more about ales, lagers, porters and pilsners from dozens of brewers, plus non-alcoholic beverages and cheeses. Also featured are food vendors and a Sports Corner tent to catch Saturday's sports action.
Before corn and soybeans became the norm, Illinois was the second largest producer of grapes in the United States. Currently featuring over 60 wineries and approximately 300 grape growers across the state, the Illinois wine industry produces 500,000 gallons of wine per year and creates an annual economic impact of $20 million. From friendly vintners and affordable prices to unique varietals and award-winning wines, Illinois provides a sophisticated, yet approachable, wine country experience.
There was a federal ruling in July 2009 that designated the Upper Mississippi River Valley as America’s largest wine region covering almost 30,000 square miles.
Lavender Crest Winery opened in 2004 and it is located just outside the Quad Cities, 5401 US HWY 6, in Colona, Ill. Their wines and label designs have won numerous honors in local, state and regional competitions. It has a Californian ambiance that includes an eatery, gift shop, and a banquet facility. They have numerous special events, including Friday night “Wine Downs.” Enjoy the view of the vineyard from the patio and gazebo. Winery tours are available. www.lavendercrest.com
Creekside Vineyards in Coal Valley, Illinois, planted their first vines in 2007, and they've expanded to the full four acres. The first three varietals produce signature Midwest wines for Creekside Vineyards Winery. Along with the winery, a bed & breakfast is now open for guests. Vineyard tours are available by appointment only and are available for Creekside Vineyards Inn guests. They have a new tasting room in Preemption, Illinois, that is open Thursday-Sunday. www.creeksidevineyards.com
Wide River Winery in Clinton, Iowa, is located about 45 minutes north of the Quad Cities. This certified organic winery opened in 2005. They have sold over 25,000 bottles of wine. www.wideriverwinery.com
Set atop the Mississippi bluff north of Clinton, discover some of the finest wines in the Midwest. These diverse wines, from dry white to sweet red, are made primarily with Midwestern grapes, including our own organically grown grapes. They also offer a hiking trail along the Mississippi bluff, a peaceful deck for relaxing, and a small gift shop. Wide River Winery welcomes visitors Monday-Friday from 11am - 5pm and on Saturday-Sunday from 11am-6pm.
They also opened a new tasting room in LeClaire, Iowa, at 102 N. Cody Road. A $6.00 wine tasting includes a souvenir wine glass. It is open Monday-Thursday 11 am-5 pm; Friday-Saturday 11 am-7 pm; Sunday 12-5 pm.
The annual St. Ambrose University Wine Festival on May 18, 2013, in Davenport, Iowa, is actually a combination of four separate events that offers experienced and budding oenophiles (lovers of wine) a variety of wines, fine food, great company, and quality entertainment. It includes an informal wine tasting, dinner trip, preview dinner, and wine festival with over 120 wines from around the world.
The Quad Cities is also known for its abundance of special events, festivals, attractions, museums, biking/hiking trails, river boats, gaming, shopping, performances, golf, professional sports teams, restaurants, and, of course, the Mississippi River.
For information on the Quad Cities area, call the Quad Cities Convention & Visitors Bureau at 800-747-7800 or visit their website at www.visitquadcities.com.
Blue Cat Brew Pub
113 18th St., Rock Island, IL
Front Street Brewery
208 E. River Dr., Davenport, IA
Great River Brewery
332 E. 2nd St., Davenport, IA
Lavender Crest Winery
5401 US Highway 6, Colona, IL
7525 120th Ave., Coal Valley, IL
Wide River Winery
1776 E. Deer Creek Rd., Clinton, IA
WQPT's Brew Ha Ha
Event in September
LeClaire Park, 400 Beiderbecke Rd., Davenport, IA
St. Ambrose University Wine Festival
Event in May
Campus, 518 W. Locust St., Davenport, IA
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