Gathered along the Mississippi River are tranquil college party towns Davenport (Iowa), Moline, and Rock Island (Illinois), visited August ’06 with old college pals Doug and Jeff. Davenport’s bungalow-styled FRONT STREET BREWERY, opened in 1994 across the waterfront, is tucked inside a red brick building with right side warehouse and left side financial company. As a reggae band played on the soggy rain-soaked streets, we entered the small oak bar across left side dining.

Basement brew tanks offered softly hop-grained blue collar fodder as well as some more adventurous fruity delights. Acrid lemon-twisted banana-clove-dabbed oats-honeyed maize-leathered Hefeweizen, unassumingly dry lemon-zinged Swing Cream Ale, and bland corn-sugared wheat-dried session beer Old Davenport Gold may not be fully satisfying to ‘Big Beer’ fans, but regular folk will drink ‘em up.  

Much worthier were sharp apricot-apple-grapefruit-bound caramel-malted hop-embittered Raging River Ale and invigorating stone-fruited charmer Cherry Ale (with its voluptuous Marachino, red, and black cherry juiciness). 

Black coffee-roasted, espresso-deepened, oats-toasted, walnut-tinged, black tea-finishing Bucktown Stout may’ve been better.

Connoisseurs may enjoy complex conflux, Cherry Stout, which blends the latter two into Black Forest cake dessert beer.

(PUBS section)

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