With a name like Lew Brewer, it was only a matter of time until the co-owner of Kalona Brewing Company, 405 B Ave., turned his hobby into a business.
“I have had this dream probably since the 80s,” Brewer said, of his brewery/restaurant that is set to open to the public this Friday. “When we decided to do this, we started looking, and had to determine where to do it. We thought let’s do it in Kalona. I know it sounds crazy, but we knew going in we were going to package either kegs or bottles (to distribute), so we didn’t have to rely on Kalona as the place that provided all of our income.”
But early in the process of applying for permits, and searching for a site for the future brewery, Brewer hit a snag.
“We are kind of a brewery and restaurant. We didn’t start as a brewpub, our original objective was to be a production brewery with a taproom,” Brewer said. “But the only zoning the city could come up with for us was under tavern and eatery, so that required us to sell food.”
Brewer admits he has no interest in being in the restaurant business, and so he partnered with David Burt, formerly of The Red Avocado in Iowa City, to be in charge of the culinary side of the equation.
And while Burt is well known for his vegan and vegetarian cuisine, Brewer said the culinary offerings at the brewery would predominantly feature meat.
The building that houses the brewery was built in 1940 as a tractor dealership.
“We had to gut the whole things,” Brewer said. “The only thing left standing was the four walls. We transformed the whole building.”
Part of that transformation included maintaining the original brick facades, while infusing chic industrial touches like aluminum siding and a 40-foot powder-coated steel bar top.
And while Brewer estimates 70 percent of his product will be put into cans to distribute to store shelves, he is hopeful the brew available in house will draw in the Kalona tourists in need of respite from shopping.
“There are a lot of older gentlemen that sit on the benches in town while their wives do the shopping,” he said. “Well, now they will have a place to go.”
- WHERE: 405 B Ave., Kalona
- HOURS: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday and Tuesday through Thursday and 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday
- CONTACT: “Kalona Brewing Company” on Facebook or (319) 656-3335
More beer is brewing:
Kalona Brewing Company is the second of several breweries opening in the next six months in Eastern Iowa.
Big Grove Brewery, 101 W. Main St., Solon opened Aug. 28. The kitchen serves from 3 t0 10 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday. The bar is open later. Find out more at “Big Grove Brewery” on Facebook.
In Manchester, Franklin Street Brewing Company is on track to open its brewery and tap house at 116 S. Franklin St. this winter.
In Cedar Rapids, Lion Bridge Brewing Company, owned by Hoopla beer columnist Quinton McClain, just started rennovations to the building at 59 16th Ave. in New Bohemia that was once a grocery store. In the meantime, sample the brewery’s Czech-inspired beer called Živá Voda at the National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library’s 10th annual Brewnost on Oct. 11.