365ink #397 December 9–December 22, 2021 - Page 32


Darkbird Taphouse

By Danny Fairchild
What a time for beer fans to be alive in this country . The United States has some serious problems . That ain ’ t a hot take , no matter where you lie on the political spectrum . But one thing we ’ ve managed to come together to sort out over the past couple of decades … is our beer . After a couple of generations , we ’ ve re-established beer as a science AND an artform . Good for us . Just look at all the brewpubs in the Tri-State area alone . There ’ s so many I ’ d probably accidentally forget some if I tried to list them from memory . And I wouldn ’ t be surprised if I just plain don ’ t know about a few . Everybody ’ s brewing their own beer , and I ’ m so friggin here for it . In fact , I ’ m just going to say something that would have been laughable 30 years ago : The United States has the best beer in the world . Europe who , am I right ?
But you know what ’ s been missing ? Something that doesn ’ t necessarily add to the TAPestry of Iowa beers ( Get it ? Like beer taps ?), proudly puts that tapestry on display for all to taste . Though I guess one doesn ’ t normally taste tapestries . Ah well … good pun , bad metaphor .
Darkbird Taphouse isn ’ t your usual taphouse where you can try the offerings from one particular brewer . Darkbird Taphouse is a taphouse where you can try the offerings from brewers from all over Iowa ( with a few taps reserved for out-of-state brewers as well ). I ’ m from Western Iowa , and I love that I ’ m from there and I occasionally go back . That said , there ’ s no way I ’ m going to try a Plush English porter from Marto Brewing Company in Sioux City if it
means I have to go to Sioux City to get it . That ’ s just way too boring to drive to then end up in Sioux City . And I don ’ t want to have to get into the whole Des Moinesness of it all to try selections from Lua Brewing in Des Moines . But I ’ ll boldly go to Peosta to try them . You wouldn ’ t be able to stop me . Darkbird is where you go if you just friggin ’ love beer and want to try different beers without making it a whole thing .
BUT ! What if you ’ re not a huge beer snob ? Or what if you ARE a huge beer snob but want to get your suds on with your non-beer-snob friends ? That last question was a trick . Beer snobs have all long-since alienated all their nonbeer-snob friends . But what if ? Darkbird doesn ’ t turn up its nose at offering your classic cocktails , nor does it feel it ’ s above serving your Mich Ultras , your High Lives , your Busch Lights . Folks , this is Iowa . We drink Busch Light here . That ’ s the way it is . That ’ s us . It ’ s time for at least one beer haven to embrace that fact . The bickering must stop , and I apologize for any part I ever had in it . Beer shaming is classist and foolish . A world without beer shaming is a world in which we all deserve to live . I ’ m not saying that Darkbird Taphouse is bringing about world peace , of course . But I AM saying that if world peace ever does come … it ’ ll come from Darkbird Taphouse .
Anyway , you can even get some local Dubuque beers from Dimensional Brewing . Other Dubuque brewers should take the fact that Dimensional is currently the only Dubuque brewery offered as a hint that they might be doing something wrong . Whether you don ’ t want your beers offered there or Darkbird doesn ’ t want your beers offered there . Either way , you need to get your act together . Darkbird is a sanctuary dedicated to beer . Time to come to Beer Jesus .
Speaking of beer cheeses , let ’ s talk food , specifically pretzels . Darkbird makes
their own beer cheese for dipping . I mean of course they do . Can you imagine how embarrassing it would be to own a place that specializes in beer and you DIDN ’ T make your own beer cheese ? Ugh , gawd . I would die . The cheese itself I ’ m guessing comes from good ol ’ Shullsburg , judging by Shullsberg playing a big role in many of the dishes on Darkbird ’ s evolving menu . The pretzel comes out of the oven and served up hot with the light toothiness you want from a pretzel . One of the best things about pretzels is that they pair well with literally any beer without exception . If you ’ re there drinking beer but you ’ re trying figure out something to nosh , the answer is pretzel . You can either share it or keep it all to yourself .
If you ’ re definitely sharing , I ’ d like to direct your attention to the Brewcuterie Board . Yeah , I don ’ t like that name , either . Makes it sound like a flight of beers instead of what it is : a non-pretentious charcuterie board . But I think you ’ ll like what ’ s on it . We ’ re talking an assortment of Shullsburg cheeses , some yummy
Italian cured meats , housemade jams ( which I always appreciate on a charcuterie board . Round out that saltiness of the cured meats with some fruity sweetness ? Hell yeah , I ’ m in .), dill pickles , and fancy crackers . A small board feeds two , a large feeds five . Order accordingly .
A word on cheese curds . Look , this is the Tri-States . I ’ m not going to tell anybody reading this anything new about cheese curds . We know cheese curds . There ’ s absolutely no reason to have bad cheese curds around here . You have all the tools right here . So I ’ ll just copy and paste their description to let you know that they do , in fact , mean business : “ Shullsburg cheese curds , house batter , spicy mayo ” Nuff said , right ?
If you need more of a foundation on which to build your beer drinking session , look no further than the burgers . Iowa Angus ground beef , yo . The Beer Cheese burger has , you guessed it , beer cheese right on the mofo and damn it looks good . I wouldn ’ t know because I was seduced by the Dirty Bird Burger . It
32 365INK MAGAZINE December 9 – December 22 , 2021 Issue # 397 DUBUQUE365 . COM