There’s a great revival happening in the already busy Quad-Cities craft brewing scene. Even in the midst of the Covid pandemic, several small, passionate craft breweries have opened this year.
Since the spring, breweries have opened in Geneseo, Bettendorf, and Davenport. Great Revivalist Brew Lab, 1225 S. Oakwood Ave., in Geneseo, took over the building formerly occupied by Lionstone Brewing, and owner Richard Schwab plans to revive the former Great River Brewery, at 332 E. 2 nd St., in Davenport, as Great Revivalist Brewery early next year. He bought the businesses in March and has been happy with how Geneseo has been received, with a new outdoor patio and elevated deck. Schwab has worked with master brewers from Great River Brewery, which closed after the flood of spring 2019.
“I love brewing beer. I love the experiment, sitting there and taking something that was nothing and making it into something that tastes delicious. I wanted to take the risk, and I did, and right now we’re doing excellent, with the enormous support of the local community -- enormous. From the government to the police, to the everyday regulars, it’s just been hands-down, a very welcoming experience for us.”
The Geneseo brew lab offers 24 taps with an experimental edge to the beers, as well as sodas, seltzers, and ciders. With seven 3.5-barrel tanks, it takes a creative approach. It also has a 2-barrel pilot system for small adventurous brews, and allow the general public to come in and make their own, which is unique in the area. In addition to the beer, Great Revivalist is a full restaurant, including favorites such as woodfire pizza, mac and cheese, mango-heat poutine, and mahi tacos.
Since the Q-C Ale Trail was announced in May 2019, five new local breweries have been added to that dozen – Midwest Ale Works in East Moline, Great Revivalist, Twin Span Brewing and Adventurous Brewing in Bettendorf, and Stombpox Brewing in downtown Davenport, next to Front Street Brewery, on East River Drive.
Visit Quad Cities organized the QC Ale Trail, announcing it at Bettendorf’s Five Cities Brewing last year, unveiling the new effort, website, map and logo. The Q-C growth reflects a nationwide craft beer boom, which has seen nearly a doubling of the number of craft breweries since 2015, to more than 8,200 in 2019, according to the national Brewers Association.
U.S. beer volume sales fell 2 % last year, whereas craft sales continued to grow at a rate of 4 %, reaching 13.6 % of the U.S. beer market. Dave Herrell, head of Visit Quad Cities, says craft beer growth is a great way to distinguish the area as a place to live, work, and play.
“What’s been great to see, during the time we launched the Ale Trail to where we are now, just the product coming out of our craft brewers, I think is phenomenal and I think people in the Quad-Cities are gravitating towards it. It’s incredibly creative and very different, depending on where you are and who you’re connected to.”
“What I probably love the most is that sense of community – that’s the biggest competitive advantage, that’s drawn Visit Quad Cities to the industry. Just the culture that’s tied to craft beer.”
Herrell says these local businesses are incredibly important to economic development and tourism, creating an inviting sense of place.
“What’s great about the craft scene is, to me, it’s the people making ‘em thrive. Wherever you are, whether in Illinois or Iowa, they all have something authentic to offer. When you’re in there, you feel this sense of place. You feel a sense of comfort, and the product they’re putting out, I just think is tremendous, and I would stack it up against anyone.”
Visit Quad Cities recently created a new Facebook page for the Ale Trail. Initially, the passport program was printed, and they invested in technology, where you can get e-stamped for the passport on your mobile device. At each brewery, get a stamp and after four locations, you get an Ale Trail bottle opener. Visit all the locations and earn a QC Ale Trail pint glass.
For more information, go to qcaletrail.com.