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Bent River owner really likes his product
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Photo: Todd Welvaert
Joel Krogman is co-owner of Bent River Brewery.
MOLINE -- Joel Krogman will be the first to tell you he was a fan of Bent River Brewery products before he ever considered becoming an owner.

And now that he's an owner, he still is a fan, to say the least.

"My favorite is our pale ale -- I guess I'm kind of a traditionalist," Mr. Krogman said. "When I come in and want a beer, that's what's waiting for me in the glass on the bar. Our pale ale."

The 50-year-old East Moline man has been a co-owner for the past three years. He moved back to the Quad-Cities area to open Blackthorn bar and restaurant, just down the street from Bent River in downtown Moline. He's also worked at and owned Culver franchises.

"I became friends with the guys down here, and it came from that," Mr. Krogman said about his co-ownership. "I always had an interest in the place, and when the opportunity came up I talked it over with my partners and they were excited. They love the product, they love the place, so it was kind of an easy decision for us."

He's done a little brewing on his own, but nothing like this.

"I've always been a passionate restaurateur, and I think one of the things we brought was some changes to what we offer, more than just a burger," he said.

"A good day is getting comments from our customers, hearing they like the changes we've made to the menu, like the products. It's actually unusual for a business to get feedback from their customers like that, but it's great. I think people are happy with what we've done here. It's unique product that people like, which is kind of different for me. If I cook you a burger or a steak, it's largely like a burger or steak our competitors can cook you, but our beer products are pretty unique, pretty unique to Moline."

He said the brewery's plans include expanding into Rock Island at 2324 5th Ave. and an adjacent property at 512 24th St. The plan calls for a tasting room and a bottling operation.

"We've outgrown our capacity in Moline, and I've been approached by Bud people all over the country saying we have a great product line and (they) want it. It was a scary jump, but it wasn't hard. We have a popular product that people want," Mr. Krogman said. "Plan B is maybe opening up a few other sites, like franchises -- maybe a place over in Davenport, maybe Chicago or Rockford. People in Iowa City, (and) in Des Moines like our product. We have a couple of very unique products."

The brewery may be best known for a coffee stout called Uncommon Stout. Mr. Krogman said it's always been one of the brewery's flagship creations, but it now outsells everything else the brewery makes combined.

"That's why we need the Rock Island facility, so we can brew greater batches and do other things," he said. The new brewery should be up and running in early spring, and making product by late May.

"The mechanical process has been the biggest surprise, more of a pleasant surprise, I think. I've figured out food and beer isn't all that different at all. The better you can execute the temperatures, the time, and the exact process, the better off it's going to be. It's the same thing we do in cooking. I was always scared of that process. You boil stuff to a certain temperature, you remove it at a certain time. It's a little more straightforward than I thought at the time. That said, I still can't do it without help."

There's much to look forward to: the brewery is working on a cask-conditioned makers mark beer, a chocolate stout, and a couple of spring ales. Plans are for seven to 10 specialty products above and beyond the flagship brews, and continuing some of the popular seasonal offerings like Jingle Java and Sweet Potato Ale.

"I'm having a ball," said Mr. Krogman. "I loved my Culver days, but there's a lot more individuality in what I'm doing here."




Living the dream

Who: Joel Krogman, co-owner of Bent River Brewery
Quote: "I loved my Culver days, but there's a lot more individuality in what I'm doing here."


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