Dave Winslow doesn't mind becoming the Dr. Frankenstein of the world of craft beers.
"I certainly enjoy playing the part of a mad scientist when coming up with new beers," the Jackson Street Brewing Co.'s owner and chief brewer said inside his 607 Fifth St. tap room. "That's still fun for me."
A former middle-school science teacher who began his career as a TV meteorologist, Winslow is uniquely qualified for his current role.
"I've been doing this long enough that I can anticipate what flavors pair well with each other," he explained. "However, you'll never know all there is to know about beer."
In business for nearly three years, Jackson Street Brewing Co. is taking home a first-place finish as the Siouxland's Choice Award for top brewery.
"This is nice recognition for a lot of hard work," Winslow said. "It hasn't always been smooth sailing for us."
Indeed, he remembered his first year in business was especially nerve-wracking.
"While the crafty beer was blowing up in other parts of Iowa, Sioux City was still a relatively untapped market."
That meant he had to become part-salesman as well as part-science nerd for his new style of suds.
As soon as a customer walks into Jackson Street Brewing Co. he will see an ever-changing menu board of brews that have a short taste description in addition to an Alcohol by Volume (ABV) measure.
For instance, a Jackson Street Brewing Co.'s Honey Wheat Beer (made with Sue Bee Honey) is a light, easy-drinking beer with a relatively low 4.6 percent ABV.
By contrast, Winslow's barrel-aged Chocolate Cherry Stout (made with dark chocolate and bitter cherries) has a whopping 11.4 ABV.
A nice, middle-of-the-road beer is the Berry Bomb Sour. This is made with sour raspberry, sour cherry and aronia. Tipping the ABV scale at 6.8 percent, Winslow said this beer has a pleasantly funky taste.
Something tasting funky, huh. That's a good thing, right?
"Absolutely," Winslow said. "Our Berry Bomb Sour is a perfect way to venture into even more sour types of beers."
Looking at the Jackson Street Brewing Co.'s crowd on an early Thursday evening, Winslow said he's satisfied with his steady stream of customers.
"I never wanted Jackson Street Brewing Co. to be your typical bar," he said. "I wanted to start a business where customers could experiment and expand their palates."
OK, what sort of beer is just over the horizon for Winslow? New England India Pale Ale (IPA), he said.
"A New England IPA is very hoppy and hazy," Winslow said. "When you look at it, it will be cloudy. When you taste it, it will be packed with fruity, floral notes."
Sounds good to us.
"Everybody has a taste preference and there is no hard and fast rules when it comes to drinking beer," Winslow said. "I like experimenting and, hopefully, come up with beers that will satisfy a large number of tastes."