Big Grove Brewery, located at 101 W. Main Street, wants to put Solon on both the culinary and craft beer maps when it opens today (8/28/13). “The town wants to lay a claim to this place, it is ‘our place,’ and that is what we are trying to be,” says Mathew Swift, a co-owner of Big Grove Brewery who is also part owner of Red’s Alehouse in North Liberty. With Solon’s population hovering around 2,000 people, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, though, Big Grove is going to have to be a destination for residents of other Corridor communities to be successful. What you need to know:
  • What: Big Grove Brewery
  • Where: 101 W. Main Street, Solon
  • Hours: Kitchen serving 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 will stay open later.
  • Details: Big Grove Brewery on Facebook
“We are 10 minutes from Iowa City, and 10 minutes to Cedar Rapids,” Swift says. “We looked at other towns, but decided if we started venturing away from Cedar Rapids or Iowa City, we would lose population base so we wanted to be near them, but also stay in Solon to improve the townscape.” The brewery is new, but details like the 24-foot high ceilings, rough-cut logs lining the entryway’s walls, a 6-inch slab of white oak running the length of the bar and a weathered brick wall in the dining space are designed to look much older. “The idea behind the building is kind of a rural contemporary,” says Doug Goettsch, managing partner. “It is a little bit of a barn, a really fancy barn we always tell people.” The owners weren’t always planning to build new. “There were some existing properties, but they would have taken a lot of money to spruce up and we didn’t think we would be pleased with the end result,” Swift says. “It is more expensive to do new construction, and a lot more risk, but we really wanted to make a brand and drive into it.” Big Grove will brew on site in a room visible through windows from the patio. At least one, maybe two, of its beers will be on tap for opening day. It also will have a full food menu. “We have a fantastic burger we have taken a lot of care on. We are making the bread in house, the pickles in house, the mayonnaise in house,” Goettsch says. “We wanted a sense of whimsy and humor about (our food), but we are also putting a lot of care and concern into the food. Not just the way we source it, but how we cook it and present it.”   More beer is brewing: Big Grove is the first of three breweries opening in the next six months in Eastern Iowa. Kalona Brewing Company, 405 B Ave., Kalona, is already distributing its beers to bars and restaurants. It will open its brewery and restaurant in early fall. In Manchester, Franklin Street Brewing Company is on track to open its brewery and tap house at 116 S. Franklin St. this winter.