What could possibly be different about the newest brewery to hit the Quad-City market?
Let’s take a tally.
You know how other breweries sell branded growlers? This one has a machine to fill crowlers, which allows customers to enjoy their favorite craft beer to-go in a 32-ounce sealed aluminum can.
You know how, at some places, the brewing system is hidden from view for customers? Inside this brew house, you won’t be able to miss it. Patrons will be able to watch the brewing process through large glass windows above the bar.
Oh, and you know everyone calls this region the Quad-Cities?
The establishment’s name — Five Cities Brewing — challenges that long-accepted label.
There’s something else that sets this brewery apart from the dozen nano- or micro-breweries in the area between Muscatine, Iowa, and Geneseo, Illinois.
This one, which opened Monday, is the first to land in Bettendorf.
As assistant brewer Curt Johnson said, “That’s a big deal. Out here, there wasn’t a place for someone to grab a beer after work.”
What's on tap
Five Cities Brewing, 2255 Falcon Ave., Bettendorf, has a capacity of about 100 people and is sure to be an “energetic place,” co-owner and head brewer Matthew Welding said.
“It’s not going to be a quiet place, but it’s not going to be a loud place,” Welding, 28, said. “It’s just a great place to get together with friends and grab a great beer.”
The taproom features plenty of seating via booths and high-top tables and reasons not to sit: Shuffleboard and foosball tables, a popcorn station as well as a non-electronic dart board.
While Five Cities doesn’t offer a menu, customers can order food, via their bartender, from nearby restaurants, Central Standard and Crust Stone Oven Pizza, to be delivered.
Developer Mark Roemer, who co-owns Five Cities Brewing, also owns Central Standsard and Crust.
And then, there’s the bar area, which is complete with a 16-tap draft system.
To start off, Five Cities is offering six of its own crafted concoctions, including:
• Bulldog Blonde (5.2 percent abv/18 ibu)
• Weekend at Henry’s IPA ( 7 percent abv/72 ibu)
• Cacao Nibbler Porter (5.8 percent abv/22 ibu)
• Wisenheimer Wheat (4.7 percent abv/10 ibu)
• Broken Promise Pale Ale (6.8 percent/48 ibu)
• Cacao Nibbler Nitro Porter (5.8 percent/22 ibu)
The remaining 10 beers on tap are each from different Iowa breweries, such as Big Grove in Solon, Exile in Des Moines and Peace Tree in Knoxville.
“We wanted to open with a good variety, so if you serve a flight of them, you’re going to find something you like,” Welding said. “As much as I want to get crafty and creative, you have to start with what people like.”
Above the bar and underneath three 60-inch TVs, patrons will be able to view the breweries’ team of two -- Welding and Johnson – at work.
The two copper kettles and two sterling silver fermentation tanks, are, for Welding, both functional — with the capacity to churn out 8 1/2 barrels or 268 gallons of beer — and decorative.
“It’s a showpiece,” he said. “Brewing is not a romantic process by any means, but we wanted that to be seen. People like to see how beer is made.”
Johnson, a homebrewer for several years, left a brewing role at Baked Beer and Bread Company, the restaurant/bakery/brewery in the Village of East Davenport, to help open Bettendorf’s first brewery.
Why’d he make the switch?
“Look at that,” Johnson said, while pointing to the brewing system. “I wanted to make more beers for the masses.”
The more, the merrier
On T-shirts, glassware, hats and on the front of the building, the brewery’s name appears as “5ive Cities Brewing.”
When asked about the name, Welding said, “It’s a good talking point.”
The “5” calls attention to five cities in southeast Iowa and northwest Illinois that make up the metro area, Davenport, Bettendorf, Rock Island, Moline and East Moline. The latter of which is often not mentioned.
“That’s the name,” Johnson said with a laugh, “because we’ve been lying for so many years. Everybody knows there are five cities.”
As of Monday, each city — except East Moline — is home to at least one brewery.
And, Bettendorf will soon have two. Crawford Brew Works, a 3,500-square foot micro-brewery and taproom at 3659 Devils Glen Road, is expected to open in mid- or late-May, according to its co-owner Ian Frink.
Another brewery, Johnson said, adds fuel to the growing Quad-City beer scene.
“The Quad-Cities is on the verge of being a craft beer destination,” Johnson said. “When you have more breweries, you get more ideas and more beers and more reasons for everyone to make better beer.”
As Welding said, Five Cities and Crawford Brew Works won’t be the last brewery additions to the area.
“The Quad-Cities isn’t done yet,” he said. “There will be more.”