September 26th, 2012 | by JOHN LOCANTHI Food & Drink | Posted In: The President of Beers

President of Beers: #17

John's Generation White Ale: Millstream Brewing, Amana, Iowa

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We're drinking the flagship craft beer from every state in the Union, counting down from 50-1, to find which is home to the President of Beers.

#17 John’s Generation White Ale: Millstream Brewing, Amana, Iowa

State: In an iconic scene in Field of Dreams, the ghost of Shoeless Joe Jackson asks Kevin Costner, “Is this heaven?” “No, it’s Iowa.” Thus begins and ends my knowledge of the great state of Iowa. Judging from the videos on YouTube, that exchange is a source of immense pride for Iowans. Unless Shoeless Joe Jackson loved endless cornfields, pig farms and Ashton Kutcher, I’m not sure how he made the mistake. In fact, the recent history of Iowa running backs suggests it’s the kingdom of a different god.

Brewery: Opening in 1985, Millstream Brewing is the oldest brewery in Iowa. It offered only a lager and an amber until a group of employees banded together and took over the brewery in a bloodless coup in 2001, freeing the company to expand its selection to 15 different beers throughout the year and three non-alcoholic sodas. Many of Millstream’s brews are named to celebrate various parts of the Iowan cultural milieu.

Beer: John’s Generations White Ale was brewed to celebrate over 50 years of John’s Grocery in Iowa. It became a year-round brew in 2002.

Difficulty of Obtaining in Oregon: Moderate. Millstream doesn’t distribute outside of the Midwest but you can order its beer over Beerjobber.

Rating: 69.25

PHOTO: Cameron Browne

This heavily carbonated witbier comes with a strong peach aroma and a crisp taste to match. John’s Generations pours a slightly cloudy, very pale yellow hue. Peach and apricots dominate the nose—for a half-second you might even forget you’re drinking beer instead of fruit soda—before it abruptly changes to a bitter wheat flavor. I could still taste it a half-hour after tasting. Not that that’s necessarily a bad thing. 

Like many states in our President of Beers countdown, the craft brewing scene in Iowa is young. In fact, the second annual Iowa Craft Beer Festival was held earlier this year. Millsteam Brewing is as old many of the microbreweries in states with more developed brewing culture but they’ve just expanded their beer catalog over the past two years along with the younger breweries.

And it’s all thanks to the Beer Equality Law, which cast off the shackles of ABV oppression in March of 2010.

Before the bill was passed, Iowa-brewed beer was limited to less than 5 percent alcohol by volume. Any beer with a higher ABV had its distribution controlled by the state and was subject to a 25 percent tax, which discouraged many quality beers from other states from making it into Iowa. It took a combined effort from the Iowa Brewer’s Guild and the Lift the Limit group to defeat these draconian laws.

Since the great victory two years ago, breweries have been sprouting up all over the state with over 25 now registered with the brewer’s guild. Millstream itself brewed a special Weizen Bock (8 percent ABV) to celebrate the freedom.

And that’s something we can all get behind. 


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