Todd Robert could feel the engagement ring in his pocket all day.
His fingers gravitated toward the diamond every few minutes, but proposing didn’t feel right — didn’t feel like “them” — until they sat down over a couple of beers.
“It was so us,” his wife-to-be, Gwendolyn Lee, said of that night in December 2014. “From our first date on, beer has been a big deal to us.”
Their beer-infused love story doesn’t end there. At a point where many couples would be knee-deep in wedding plans, Robert and Lee decided instead to start a beer bar in downtown Davenport.
"A wedding hasn't been a priority because of this place," Lee said.
And when Endless Brews opened last week, it felt like another milestone for the couple.
“This is our baby,” Lee, who is 35 and grew up in Davenport, said. “It feels like a part of us.”
Endless Brews, located on Main Street, offers a unique, if not obscure, collection of beers both on draft and in bottles. At first glance, the options really seem endless.
They'll have 20 beers on draft at any given time, from breweries in from Kalamazoo, Mich., or Brooklyn or Newport, Ore., and ranging from stouts to ambers to IPAs. And toward the back, in the bottle shop, there are even more beers to choose from.
“In our opinion, this is the best of the best that’s available in one place,” Robert said. “We want to bring in an array of beers that you really can’t get anywhere else.”
They’re also breaking the format of other breweries in town — the tap room and bottle shop will serve equal parts of their business plan.
“I think that is unique, because people can just hop in for a six-pack or stay and enjoy a beer,” Robert said. “Either way, people have the thirst for trying something new and we have the inventory.”
For Robert, who is 42 and from Raleigh, N.C., craft beer has become more than a hobby.
He passed a series of exams about beer-tasting and beer-making to become a Certified Cicerone — he’s the only person with that qualification in the Quad-Cities.
And same goes for Lee, who operates her own digital startup, RubberStamps.net, out of an office in Bettendorf. She never tires of trying something new.
“Beer-making is so quantitative, you could really study it forever if you wanted to,” she said. “It’s also a mix of science and art, which really reflects our two personalities.”
Together, they researched hundreds of brews to include on their list. Robert, who has graphic design background, created the logos and overall look of the bar.
“Walking in here is really like Beer 101,” Lee said. “And I think you get that feeling with how it looks.”
Customers can buy beer-themed T-shirts and hats. They can purchase a crowler (think: growler, but for cans) of their favorite beer on draft with an in-house canning contraption.
“We want to make craft beer approachable,” Robert said. “There are some snobbish people out there who talk about craft beer. We don’t want to be that.”
They’re also staying away from another vibe that often crops up when beer is involved — especially with high alcohol contents.
“We don’t want to be clubbing,” Lee said. “This kind of beer should be enjoyed, not pounded or guzzled.”
Endless Brews closes at 10 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday and at midnight on Friday and Saturday.
“We wanted to create a place where we would want to hang out,” she said. “The Quad-Cities has a lot going on right now, but we didn’t see anything like this that really celebrated the full range of craft beer.”
And now that the doors are open, Lee and Robert hope their place strikes a chord with locals, whether they're beer-aficionados or Budweiser-drinkers.
"It's scary and we kind of panic and wonder if no one will come at all," Robert said. "But we think it's unique enough to work."
They hope Endless Brews will be the next go-to place for friends and coworkers and first dates. Maybe, they say half-jokingly, it will mark the beginnings of more love stories.
"So much of our relationship has been about beer, so this is so natural for us," Lee said. "We'll still go out and enjoy beer, but now we get to go to our little place — and that feels special."