One can go on a bar crawl in Chicago or Des Moines via pedal wagons or double decker trollies or a even a bus engineered to resemble a bourbon barrel.
And, now, there’s a new way to bar hop in the Quad-Cities: A man and his van.
After growing up in Davenport, Brendan Iglehart moved away to attend Indiana University and then moved to Madison, Wisconsin, to work as an information technology consultant.
For the self-described travel enthusiast, his job offered plenty of adventure. Iglehart visited over 30 countries and, on a whim, once booked a 24-hour trip to Hawaii.
But, aside from his expeditions, the 26-year-old felt “miserable.” He wanted his life and work to be about more than punching the clock.
While riding a train from Romania to Moldova last fall, Iglehart got an idea.
“The people I was traveling with had all of these questions about where I was from,” he said. “I thought, ‘If they would pay for a tour there, why wouldn’t they pay for a tour somewhere in the Midwest?'”
"I learned that people are curious about the Midwest," he said. "It's a mystery to a lot of people."
Iglehart’s mind went to the Quad-Cities. He knew there were tour services in bigger Midwest cities, but, in his hometown: "There was no one doing that here.”
When he got back from his Europe trip, Iglehart bought a 12-passenger van, a website domain name and moved back into his childhood home in Davenport with his parents. He had officially launched altSTATES Travel.
“I’m like many people who grew up here who say, ‘There’s nothing to do here,’” Iglehart said in an over-a-beer interview last week at Great River Brewery in downtown Davenport. “It’s the classic line. And it’s just not true anymore.”
Looking at the establishments near the intersection of Pershing Avenue and 2nd Street, Iglehart said, “These were all abandoned buildings when I was a kid.”
“It’s changed so much,” he said.
Case in point, he said, is the area’s growing craft beer scene.
While living in Madison, which is home to over 20 craft breweries, Iglehart found himself bragging about beer in the Quad-Cities.
That’s why the first tours from altSTATES Travel offer an “insider’s look” into breweries here, he said.
Each Saturday this month, Iglehart plans to offer “Q-C Brewery Excursions,” in which he’ll guide a small group of people through three Quad-City craft breweries, including Great River Brewery in downtown Davenport, Blue Cat Brew Pub and WAKE Brewing, which are both in Rock Island.
In addition to transportation via Iglehart’s van, which he has since named “Travis,” the excursions include beers at each stop and behind-the-scene tours of each brewing system.
“Yes, you could hop in an Uber or drive yourself around from bar to bar,” he said. “This is safe and more of a local experience."
His tours have so far mostly attracted Quad-City residents. He said he hopes to draw in out-of-town visitors as well.
'I believe in the Quad-Cities'
As Iglehart has reintroduced himself to the places and people in the Quad-Cities, he said “some people are surprised that I’m in my 20s and I moved back here.”
That includes his mother, Peg Iglehart, who didn’t expect the middle of three sons to move back home.
“You don’t hear of that many people moving back to the Quad-Cities after they have lived elsewhere,” she said, adding that her other two sons live in Omaha, Nebraska and Indianapolis, Indiana.
Peg, who grew up in the Chicagoland area, said she also didn’t expect to stay in the area after attending the University of Iowa. But then she met and married a Quad-City native.
“It’s really changed a lot and it’s so exciting to see all the things to do,” she said. “I’m so glad we stayed to see it.”
Those changes have made space for a company like altSTATES, she said.
“I think so often people who live in their communities don’t know what’s there,” she said. “Every area has its own beauty. And Brendan is on a mission to help people see that.”
Her son has longer-term tours planned for later this year, including a Midwest Brewery Tour April 14-22. He will soon offer winery and culinary-themed tours as well as free walking tours in Davenport.
“I believe in the Quad-Cities,” Iglehart said. “A lot of people might say there’s nothing to do here. My life’s mission is to combat that.”