I am a Child of the 80s. Unlike the 60’s Child, my youth was devoid of LSD and “special brownies.” (Unless you count Grandma’s…and I’m pretty sure all of her ingredients were legal.) I also missed out on the disco craze and mood rings of the 70s. Although I view this as a positive, believing polyester leisure suits violate any sense of propriety and dignity one might possess.

Instead I was raised in the era of the Rubik’s Cube (I had to peel the stickers off in order to solve it!), Michael Jackson (pre-skin bleaching and nose job), and Atari, which I maintain is one of the greatest gaming systems ever created. Before Fortnight, there was Pong…and Pac Man and Donkey Kong…and my personal favorite Burger Time. I challenge you to name anything more rewarding than building a perfect digital hamburger without being crushed by a giant bun.

However the foundation of 80s culture rests in its music. Some of you were lucky enough to have MTV before it digressed into a harbor of bad reality shows. My family did not have cable, so I had to settle for Friday Night Videos once a week on network television. I remember staying up for the premiere of MJ’s Thriller video…and then not being able to sleep because his glowing eyes freaked me out.

But the very bedrock of 80s music lies in its mix tapes. I realize today’s youth will never experience anything outside the convenience of downloading uninterrupted music from iTunes and Spotify. Yet they are missing out on one of the greatest challenges of all time. (Even greater than clearing the screen in Pac Man). The challenge? Making the perfect mix tape.

A mix tape is a homemade compilation of favorite pieces of music, typically by different artists, recorded onto a cassette tape by an individual. You see, 40 years ago, we did not have mp3 players or cell phones. We had to stand with our finger poised over our boomboxes, listening to the weekly countdown for our favorite songs to be played. When we heard those first song notes, we hit the “record” button as quickly as we could and hoped the dj was not still talking. It became a game of outwitting the radio announcer. How many others have mixed tapes that include snippets of commercials or the weather? Raise your hands high with pride! That is what defines a Child of the 80s!

Which is why the Iowa Roadie was super excited to discover a brewery that embraced the decade of my youth…however warped and demented that may be. Timbukbru is a newly established brewery in Clarion, Iowa, and its website boasts that it was “created in the middle of nowhere” with the mission to “Do Epic Shit.” The last census put Clarion’s population at 2,850 people, and this rural town’s big claim to fame is that it is the birthplace of the four-leaf clover emblem, used by the 4-H Clubs of America. (Proud to be a nine-year member!)

And while Timbukbru may truly reside in the middle of nowhere, its atmosphere is as inviting as any place the Iowa Roadie has visited. Part of this brewery’s charm is its devotion to 80s pop culture. On the wall is a mural depicting All Things Great of the 80s. Think Bill Murray in Ghost Busters, ET flying across the moon on a bicycle, and yes…a MIX TAPE! Timbukbru also has a collection of games for its patrons to play. Nothing goes with craft beer like a spirited game of drunk Scrabble. But as my husband does not like games involving spelling or words (primarily because my vocabulary is more extensive than his), we settled instead on the old-fashioned classic cribbage game.

Now I confess that I am not a numbers gal, and my only other previous experience with cribbage was scarring. A few years ago, our local radio station hosted a cribbage tournament to raise money for Relay for Life. My husband decided to enter, and so I went to watch. (Nothing screams “spectator sport” like a rousing game of cribbage.) However the tournament needed one more player, and somehow I got roped into playing. Keep in mind that the majority of my fellow players were retired, and actually PLAYED cribbage. My opponents were little old ladies and men who turned out to be cut throat, and had no pity on my bumbling counting skills. In fact, they beat me. Every. Single. Game. (In scrabble terms, that spells L-O-S-E-R.) So in my humiliation, I vowed to never again engage in cribbage…at least not with someone that qualified for an AARP discount.

As my husband has not hit 50 yet (and as his senses were dulled by Timbukbru’s stellar craft beer), I relented to a game. In fact, we played TWO games. And even though we split the victories, I maintain that my husband is a C-H-E-A-T-E-R. This is because after I won our first game, he started enforcing new rules that a cribbage novice such as myself would have no knowledge of. For example, after one hand, I failed to count two points. Rather than simply point out my error and award me the two points, my C-H-E-A-T-E-R husband claimed those two points were now his.

On a side note, during the writing of this blog, I googled this rule known as “muggins.” Muggins (also known as cut-throat) is a commonly used but OPTIONAL rule, and it must be announced BEFORE game play begins. If a player fails to claim her or his full score on any turn, the opponent may call out “Muggins” and peg any points overlooked by the player.

Second side note…This confirms that my husband is a C-H-E-A-T-E-R, as this rule is OPTIONAL and was NOT announced before the game. Nor did my husband use the proper “muggins” terminology. He did, however, take my two points.

Third side note…It was after this game that we quit playing.

This allowed us the opportunity to visit with our bartender and eat the complimentary peanuts on the bar. It turned out that our bartender was a former golf pro who spent two years teaching golf skills in Florida and on cruise ships before saving up enough money to buy a liquor store in Colorado. After one year, Golf Pro Bartender sold his business and made enough money that he moved to Thailand where he has been “chilling” since. He is friends with Timbukbru’s founders, and when asked to help, he came back to Iowa temporarily to lend a hand. (When I asked Golf Pro Bartender why he would leave Thailand to spend time in the birthplace of the 4-H clover, our bartender replied that in addition to golfing and chilling in Thailand, he just really likes beer.)

I must interject that we have visited Timbukbru on three occasions, and Golf Pro Bartender was there on the first two. (In fact, he remembered that my husband and I tied in cribbage! He failed to recall that my husband C-H-E-A-T-S.) By our third trip to Timbukbru, Golf Pro Bartender had returned to Thailand to resume chilling, and we were instead served by a nice young man named Eric (I think). The reason that I do not clearly remember his name is that I had consumed two glasses of wine. Normally this would not be a big deal, but I noticed that I seemed to be more social than normal. (It is never a good sign when someone tells me I am “fun.”)

So I asked Eric (I think) about the wine. Keep in mind that I normally drink moscato with a 5% ABV. This wine (from Soldier Creek Winery in Fort Dodge) had a 12% ABV. That is TWICE the strength of my normal moscato! (This also explains how I discovered a Timbukbru t-shirt bearing the likeness of a 4-H clover in my dresser drawer the next day…but unclear as to how it got there.)

Important disclaimer….If one is going to drink wine (or any beverage) that causes one to purchase clothing with the symbol of a popular youth civic club on them, make sure to call an uber or appoint a designated driver. However Clarion, being in the middle of nowhere, does not have an uber driver. So even though my husband is a C-H-E-A-T-E-R, he did not drink 12% ABV wine and somehow end up with a clover t-shirt…and therefore was able to safely drive us home.

Besides Golf Pro Bartender and Eric (I think), we have met some other lovely people at Timbukbru during our visits. There was Sam, a laser technician from the Dallas/Fort Worth area who also owned a chain of Asian infusion restaurants. (Clarion, in the middle of nowhere, does not have an Asian infusion restaurant…although there is Sam’s Chinese Kitchen right across from the courthouse up the street.) We met a mother of four teenage sons who had just given them all home drug tests to insure they were making good choices. We visited with Howard who lives in the neighboring town of Belmond (also in the middle of nowhere). Howard maintains a firm stance regarding standing during the national anthem and consequently is boycotting all NFL games. Finally there was a couple from Seattle who visit their 81-year-old relative each August but have yet to eat sweet corn or visit the Iowa State Fair. (W-E-I-R-D!)

More bizarre is that I have written an entire blog about a brewery and not mentioned their craft beer. (Possibly because the Iowa Roadie does not like beer…but her C-H-E-A-T-E-R husband does.) He assures me that they are all quite good, particularly their seasonal fruit beers like blueberry or apricot, and their milk stout and porter. Currently Timbukbru has seven home brews on tap, as well as three guest beers and a root beer (insuring others can safely get home with their 4-H clover t-shirts).

I would also like to point out that Timbukbru hosts a plethora of special events…from trivia and comedy nights to live music and karaoke. Recently they even hosted a Board Game Night. My husband better look out for that one. I’ll have Bartender Eric (I think) pour me a glass of 12% wine, and I’ll break out Monopoly. Then I’ll send my C-H-E-A-T-E-R husband directly to jail without passing go or collecting his $200. He can get out only by reciting the 4-H pledge or making that elusive perfect mix tape. I am confident my husband does not know what the four H’s stand for…which makes me the W-I-N-N-E-R!

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