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What's in a name? New Bettendorf brewery recognizes five Quad-Cities

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Three 60-inch flat-screen TVs cover the wall above the bar at what could be the newest brewery in the Quad-Cities, but the real production will happen in the next room over.

That's where head brewer and co-owner Matthew Welding will be working on the latest batch of craft beer at Five Cities Brewing, 2255 Falcon Ave., Bettendorf. Patrons may watch the process through the glass windows below the TVs.

The name of the new business recognizes the five cities in southeast Iowa and northwest Illinois that make up the metro Quad-Cities, including East Moline, which often is not mentioned. 

Welding, who formerly worked at Front Street Brewery in Davenport, approached developer Mark Roemer about this project a couple of years ago. "I wanted to do my own thing," he said, and Roemer wanted in, too.

The business partners said they plan to open this spring.

Bettendorf, which does not have an operating brewery within city limits, may be home to two before the beginning of summer. Crawford Brew Works, 3659 Devils Glen Road, is tentatively slated to open in mid-April, Ian Frink, co-owner of the establishment, confirmed Monday. There are 12 micro- and nanobreweries in the area, between Muscatine, Iowa, and Geneseo, Illinois, a 55-mile stretch.

But Roemer and Welding believe there is room for more. 

"It's not a phase," Roemer said in his office off the booming 53rd Avenue corridor in Bettendorf. "The industry is still growing and anything like this, I think, benefits the Quad-Cities as a whole."

Five Cities will offer between six and eight beers at first, said Welding, who favors hoppy India pale ales. He plans to accompany the IPA with a pilsner, a Belgian-style wheat ale, a pale ale, a porter and a nitro-charged beer early on. The draft system features 16 taps, so in the early days, the remaining spots will feature other craft beer brewed in the region.

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The 16-tap draft beer system is behind the bar at Five Cities Brewing in Bettendorf.

Five Cities will wait nine to 12 months before distributing its product throughout the state, the owners said. However, customers from the get-go may fill up and take home growlers, 64-ounce glass jugs, or crowlers, 32-ounce aluminum cans, with any beer on tap. 

"It's all going to be new," Welding continued. "We'll try some interesting beers and see what sticks."

Customers at Five Cities, which also will serve wine and liquor, may order food from Central Standard, Roemer's burger bar next door, and Crust Stone Oven Pizza, his other restaurant less than a half-mile to the east. He simultaneously is building another Central Standard in Waukee, Iowa, a west suburb of Des Moines.

Welding, a native of Quincy, Illinois, settled here after graduating in 2012 from St. Ambrose University, where he studied finance and economics. He played basketball there as well.

While working at a financial firm in town, he picked up one shift as a bartender a week at Front Street Brewery Taproom in the Freight House, 421 W. River Drive, Davenport. He learned the ins and outs of brewing under Steve Zuidema, the founder of Front Street Brewery.

"I just fell in love with it," said Welding, who preferred working with his hands and on his feet to sitting at a desk. "I learned everything I could from him (Zuidema)."

He oversaw brewing for Front Street until mid-December, when he transitioned to Five Cities Brewing. The equipment arrived last month, and Welding hopes to begin brewing within the next couple of weeks.

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Jack Cullen uncovers different slices of life for the Quad-City Times. He previously covered the city of Bettendorf. When he's not reporting, Jack enjoys coaching tennis and exploring the outdoors.