The Quad Cities Craft Beer Scene has grown into quite the thriving industry.
We now have 6 breweries: Blue Cat Brew Pub, Bent River Brewing Co., Great River Brewery, Front Street Brewery, Radicle Effect Brewerks and Rebellion Brew Haus, opened and operating; 2 soon to open, Baked Beer & Bread Co. and Wake Brewing; and 3 between the outer lying cities of Le Claire, Green Tree Brewery and Geneseo, Geneseo Brewing Co. and Lionstone Brewing. Every establishment offers a unique experience with a variety of beers, each commendable for their own reason.
While the Quad Cities Area is relatively small; 4 core cities, surrounded by many others, in 4 counties totaling 170 square miles; most of us tend to stay in our territory or on our side of the river. Fortunately for all of us there are wonderful places in each region; here are my favorites from Iowa, Illinois, and just outside of town.
Front Street Brewery, Davenport
My favorite Quad Cities brewery on the Iowa side is Front Street. Front Street Brewery is the oldest in the QCA as well as the state of Iowa. The original location is at 208 East River Drive in Davenport, and though they don’t brew there anymore, their brewpub is putting out some of the best food in town. The Front Street kitchen always has different specials running, but some regular menu highlights are the Spinach Artichoke Dip, the Fish Tacos, and the Cajun Burger, they also make a great Black Bean Burger, for the vegetarians out there.
Due to the popularity and demand of their beer, Front Street opened a second location in the Freight House, just down the road at 421 W. River Drive, this is where all the beer is made and packaged. Some of Front Streets’ more popular beers are the Cherry Ale, the German Hefeweizen, and the Raging River IPA.
Both locations offer a unique experience, located on the bicycle path, and have patio seating available. Front Street is a great business with solid staff members, consistently good beers and food, all along the Mississippi River.
Radicle Effect Brewerk, Rock Island
My favorite brewery on the Illinois side is Radicle Effect Brewerks. However, I admittedly have a bias in that I’m an employee of the establishment. I am a proud team member of some of the best bartenders you’ll meet, working for one of the best brewers around, providing a quality product and atmosphere for all those of legal drinking age.
Blue Cat Brew Pub, Rock Island
As I sing Radicle Effect Brewerks’ praises all day long, I’m going to mention a very close runner-up. I spend many a meal at Blue Cat Brew Pub, located at 113 18th Street, in Rock Island. Blue Cat also has a wonderful, knowledgeable staff that takes great care of every guest, including families. They themselves are a family owned business, with a brewing brother and cooking sister duo running the operation.
The beers offered are more traditional in nature, with English and Belgium-influenced styles on tap. Their most popular beer is the Off the Rail Pale Ale, a more malt-forward brew; other favorites are the Big Bad Dog Olde English Ale and the Count Magnus Dark Belgium Ale.
The food from Blue Cat is down home with a creative flair, my favorite meal there is the Dixie Land Special, which is cornbread topped with coleslaw and pulled pork, though they make a delicious BLT as they cure their own bacon. Blue Cat has been getting into grinding their own meat, and making their own burgers and sausages, all the while expanding their vegetarian offerings.
From excellent beer to food to service, Blue Cat Brew Pub has a little something for everyone.
Off the Beaten Path
Geneseo Brewing Co., Geneseo
Just outside of the Quad Cities, in just about every direction, are several little towns that hold hidden gems, fantastic local businesses that provide a fun way to spend an afternoon. Andalusia, Le Claire, and Muscatine are good but my favorite is Geneseo.
At 102 S. State Street is Geneseo Brewing Co., a great little operation in a quaint downtown. State Street feels like small town “Main Street”, lined with shops and restaurants. Geneseo Brewing, or GBC, has a matching ambiance, with cozy couches and mismatched furniture; the brewery has a warmth about it.
The brews on tap are some of the best around. Their head brewer began as a home brewer with a passion that led him to a new career once the establishment opened. The Squirrel’s Nuts Peanut Butter Porter is a local favorite, the IPA’s are consistently solid, and there are constantly new brews available, though some may seem adventurous, they are always delicious.
Geneseo Brewing Co. also has a nice food menu with a wonderful charcuterie board. They also make a great Cuban, good sliders, and offer a kids’ menu. If you’re looking for a relaxing watering hole, GBC is the place.
Whether you’re with friends or family, in Iowa, Illinois, or looking to step outside of town, all areas of the Quad Cities have a craft brewery for you to visit.
This post was written by Deborah Davis, otherwise known as the “QC Ale Girl.” Davis writes blog posts for several sites including her own brew-focused blog at qcalegirl.com.