A major factor in the success of the Peace Tree Brewing Company has been the wide availability of their beer. Distribution has always presented something of a chicken-and-egg problem for small breweries. Winning the shelf space of retailers without any brewing history is difficult, and taking away tap handles from other brands (especially ones from the big three brewers) can be next to impossible. Fortunately things have been changing, and the state of Iowa has slowly built up a craft beer culture. It is onto this burgeoning scene that Peace Tree has burst.
They wasted no time at all building a wide distribution network. Though they are anchored by a dozen locations around Knoxville, including their own tap room, the real strength of their growth can be seen in the liquor section of Hy-Vee. Timing their opening just perfectly with a recent push by that store to expand craft beer and wine selections, Peace Tree beers are now available at more than forty Hy-Vees statewide. Considering beer purchasing is done individually by each local store, this illustrates a dedication to making their beer available.
But what is most impressive is the number of Peace Tree’s draft accounts in Des Moines and Iowa City. There basically isn’t a bar of consequence in either town without at least one of Red Rambler or Hop Wrangler. Peace Tree is quickly becoming Iowa’s own little New Glarus.
Tonight I will have two more beers. The first, a seasonal farmhouse ale, is brewed with not just corn, but also corn stalks. I’d also say that the name Cornucopia fits very well with yesterday’s discussion of roots. After that I will have a bottle of the year-round Rye Porter.
Cornucopia pours a very pale straw color, just barely shy of brilliantly clear. The head is bone white, just a thin little pillow that doesn’t linger. A rich but delicate bread character from the malt supports the fruity aroma that is the star of the nose. This characteristic raspberry peach calling card is created by Peace Tree’s strain of Belgian yeast. They use the same for (almost) all of their beers, but nowhere else does it shine like this.
A spicy yeast flavor and a alcoholic sharpness make this beer a bit more intense than one would expect. The alcohol turns quickly to warming, and the black pepper and coriander almost yield to the malt. The corn makes the body quite light, and the corn stalks give a bit of a graininess to the flavor. Certainly a beer to drink fresh.
Now to the Rye Porter. This one is a very dark, very hazy, chocolate color, with some creamy, sandy brown head. The nose is at first roasty, strongly of burnt toast. A light berry fruitiness grows to balance, and the roast character turns to coffee.
Rich toast and caramel marries with the spiciness from the rye, creating a deep and intriguing combination. Espresso and strong dark chocolate flavors balance the milky palate and sweet caramel malt residual. Very thick and rich, but still refreshing.
Peace Tree Rye Porter
Peace Tree Cornucopia