If there's one rule during Quad-Cities Craft Beer Week, it's this: Try something new.
The fifth annual celebration of local breweries, homebrewers and craft beer drinkers is happening now through Sunday, with events and tappings planned at area venues each day.
To make the most of it, Deborah Davis, a bartender at Radicle Effect Brewerks who organized the event, recommends having an open mind (and palate).
“It’s not exactly about what I like and don't like. It's all about appreciating how a beer is executed,” Davis, 36, who tastes 10-15 new beers per week at work, said. “My palate is ever changing. I still love having a Corona every now and then. You just have to be open to different flavors.”
Quad-Cities Craft Beer Week was started by Mugz, a homebrewing club, as a way to mark Big Brew Day, or National Homebrew Day, which since 1988 has been celebrated in the first Saturday of May. Last year, Big Brew Day was celebrated in 483 communities across the world, according to the American Homebrewers Association.
John Campbell, president of Mugz, said Big Brew Day, in which homebrewers gather to showcase their beer-making in public, is an opportunity to raise awareness about the craft.
“A lot of people don’t know you can make your own beer,” Campbell said. “They’re scared of it. It’s a lot of educating people that’s it’s possible and and it’s legal.”
Plus, as far as hobbies go, it’s “one of the most fun things you can do,” he said.
Since Davis took it over, Quad-Cities Craft Beer Week has expanded beyond homebrewing, but she kept it during the first week of May instead of aligning it with American Craft Beer Week, which falls on May 15-21.
“I wanted to highlight every aspect of the beer community,” Davis said. “I love this beer community, from the micro-breweries to the people who drink craft beer.”
Here’s this year’s lineup:
Wednesday: Two secret tappings are planned for 6-9 p.m. at Kavanaugh’s Hilltop, 1228 30th St., Rock Island. After the reveal, stay for live music from Sean Ryan of The Dawn with Kelsey Lillion.
Thursday: The QC Tap Takeover is set for 5-7 p.m. at Radicle Effect Brewerks, 1340 31st St., Rock Island. Beers from Radicle Effect Brewerks, Bent River Brewing Company, Blue Cat Brew Pub, Green Tree Brewery, Great River Brewery, Front Street Brewery, Lionstone Brewing and Geneseo Brewing Co. will be on tap.
Friday: Baked Beer and Bread Co., 1113 Mound St., Davenport, the newest brewery in the area, will tap a Lemongrass Sour at 6 p.m. Music will start at 9 p.m.
Saturday: During Big Brew Day, homebrewers will set up their brew systems and make beer from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the courtyard next to River House Bar & Grill, 1510 River Drive, Moline. Live music follows.
Sunday: For the final day of Quad-Cities Craft Beer Week, 14 stouts will be on tap for the Stout Wars from noon to 5 p.m. at Rock Island Brewing Company, or RIBCO, 1815 2nd Ave., Rock Island.
As part of the festivities, Bent River Brewing Company, will unveil the Aztec, an IPA inspired by Mexican hot chocolate, according to lead brewer Patrick Murphy-Martinez.
“I love getting people to try something new,” he said. “You have to be able to adapt and be open to something other than a Coors Light.”
The 32-year-old Davenport resident said more and more Quad-Citians are on the hunt for craft beer.
“When I got into this, there wasn’t much of a craft beer scene,” Murphy-Martinez said. “Now it’s everywhere. It keeps getting bigger and bigger and more people are seeking it out.”
And there will be more to seek out in the future, despite some who predict the craft beer bubble will burst, Murphy-Martinez said.
“The big thing in the industry right now is sour beers though it hasn't quite hit the Quad-Cities yet," he said. "Every year there’s a new style that kind of takes over and we’re about a year behind everyone else."
The challenge is getting people to take a risk on those "acquired tastes."
"When I first tried a sour, I hated it," he said. "Now I can't get enough of them."
Campbell has gone through that process plenty of times when concocting his own beers. And he has learned this: "You just have to try it.”
“When people say they don’t like beer, a lot of them have only had one beer experience and it’s something like Bud Light,” Campbell said. “There’s a whole world out there from light and refreshing to dark and heavy beers that taste like chocolate."