If you’ve got the time, Bettendorf has the beer.
At last count, there were 105 breweries in Iowa, and four, soon to be five, operate inside the Bettendorf city limits. Granted that hardly compares to Seattle’s 174 breweries, or Chicago’s 158 but given the population difference, Bettendorf is holding its own. Only Des Moines and Cedar Rapids host more breweries in Iowa.
The first wave of breweries came in 2018 with the grand openings of Five Cities Brewing and Crawford Brew Works. However, flying under the radar during the initial flurry was the cult favorite Adventurous Brewing. Toiling in his garage,brewer Chris Trelstad was brewing great craft beer and distributing to as many as 45 outlets in Iowa and Illinois. With a move to a much larger space in 2020, Trelstad has added a partner and brewing capacity. The next step will be the opening of a taproom in mid to late July or early August, at 1040 State Street, in Bettendorf.
2020 saw the rise of Twin Span Brewing, a brewery/restaurant, nestled in the growing development near the TBK Bank Sports Complex. The quartet will become a quintet when the retro pop-culture-styled Nerdspeak Brewery opens in late June.
Why are there so many breweries in little Bettendorf? All three owners interviewed for this piece say it is because of Bettendorf’s growth potential. Twin Span, Adventurous, and Nerdspeak have all set down roots in different corners of the city, each with its own advantage and unique vibe.
Adventurous Brewing’s Trelstad, a Bettendorf native,is happy to have his brewery at the foot of the new I-74 bridge. “I love Bettendorf, so we’re really excited about everything that is going on downtown and the stuff they’re getting ready to do in the next couple of years.
”Nerdspeak Brewing is located in a repurposed industrial park near the Mississippi River on the edge of Bettendorf, as you head upriver to LeClaire.
“We chose our location sort of by accident. My wife and I have been toying around with opening a brewery for some time now and we fell in love with the location when I started going to the Crossfit gym in the same complex. There are a great number of under-served neighborhoods nearby and the location has lots of room for future growth; whether that be a restaurant, event center, or even a coffee shop. It really is a beautiful location,” said Arron Ickes.
Twin Span Brewing, located near the TBK Bank Sports Complex, sits in the heart of some of Bettendorf’s most impressive residential and commercial growth. Adam Ross, Twin Span’s owner/brewer and his partners, didn’t set out to be in Bettendorf, they just followed the growth. They asked a simple question -“where's the growth happening, where are people right now?”
We're just growing lightning fast in this little section...There’s growth, people are thirsty and that’s the key to being here.”
All of the breweries emphasize that beer is their primary focus but no brewer is more laser-focused than Adventurous Brewing’s Trelstad. “The whole thing's really just about the beer...we just want the taproom to be just super comfortable,” said Trelstad. “(it will have) just a little background music, comfy seating and will be perfect for just talking and connecting.”
Ross says the source of Twin Span’s vibe is its pairing of food and beer. “Most people don't come in here just to have a beer. They come in here to eat and drink. I think it's pretty unique around here...we are at the intersection (of) beer, food, and openness.”
“Nerdspeak can be best described as a retro pop-culture environment with a focus on the ‘nerdy’ things. While I make my priority great beer, I want the environment to match. Our vibe is quite unique,” said Ickes.
A survey of the brewery’s flagship beer labels lends evidence to how Ickes combines his love of beer with his love of movies, music, and gaming. Monthly Python fans, in particular, will appreciate 'Tis but a Scratch, a raspberry hefeweizen, whose name and label are an ode to the classic movie “Monty Python and the Holy Grail."
Ross, Trelstad and Ickes all come from the tight-knit Quad-Cities home brewing community but each has different styles and passions.
Ross, a student of beer history, says he likes to dip back into time for inspiration.“I like subverting expectations by trying different recipes. There are a few beers that I’ve released that I hadn’t heard of before or had that style of beer. I just cross my fingers and hope people like it. So far, so good. I haven't had to dump anything,” Ross said with a smile.
Trelstad says the name of his brewery says it all -Adventurous. “We like to push the limits on stuff. And then we like traditional stuff, too. So it's just kind of a nice mix in there...you can come in and have this crazy sour but then you could also have a pint of a nice lager.”
Ickes says he loves to knuckle down and really dial in a recipe to make it perfect. “My biggest focus is to make excellent beer regardless of style and we will offer many different styles. I do have a passion for Belgian-style beers and am excited to bring some unique entries in that genre."
All three brewers interviewed mentioned how the others are good for business. Ickes put it best when he said the more breweries there are in town helps to make Bettendorf, and the Quad-Cities, a great destination for beer lovers from across the country.