From Decorah to Glenwood, communities large and small in Iowa are home to breweries. With beer styles such as ale, stout, pilsner, and wheat, each brewer strives to add their own touch, creating unique flavors. Since 1985 — beginning with Millstream Brewery in the Amana Colonies — microbreweries have grown yearly, with about 115 located around Iowa.
Prior to prohibition, it seemed at one time almost every city had its own brewery. After almost 14 years as a “dry” nation, however, most breweries didn’t have the resources to restart and faded into history, allowing the big breweries, such as Anheuser Busch, to dominate nationally. But, times changed, and beer enthusiasts rolled the dice and opened their own breweries, especially in Iowa.
It seems appropriate that we provide a 12-pack of microbreweries to visit in Iowa.
Where: 835 48th Ave., Amana
It seems fitting that Iowa’s oldest microbrewery would produce German beer. Opened in 1985, the Amana Colonies have brewed German labels such as Schild Brau — Millstream Brewery’s flagship lager — with its caramel malts providing a sweet and nutty taste, along with a smoothness.
Among its two dozen brews, the 1923 Kolsch ale offers a light enough flavor enjoyed year-round. The 1923 honors the Woolen Mill, which was destroyed in a 1923 fire.
Pulpit Rock Brewing Co.
Where: 207 College Drive, Decorah
One of the youngest breweries in Iowa, Pulpit Rock Brewing Co. opened its doors in Decorah in 2015. Located inside a former dairy, Pulpit Rock rotates its handcrafted beers, so you’ll want to plan a few return visits. From IPAs to sours and pour overs, Pulpit Rock’s taproom features beers such as Saftig, a local favorite that embraces Mosaic, Simcoe and Citra hops.
Sour fans will enjoy The Muffin Man, which combines real blueberries and blueberry muffins, creating a thick, liquid pastry. And it doesn’t have any lactose.
Pulpit Rock’s taproom has a seating capacity of 50 people, which allows for a causal environment, and inviting conversation.
7 Hills Brewery
Where: 1085 Washington St., Dubuque
From its pre-Prohibition days as one of Iowa’s primary brewers, Dubuque has come full circle with 7 Hills Brewery. Located in the historic Millwork District, 7 Hills Brewery produces almost two dozen beers, anchored by flagship brews 7 Headed Monster (west coast IPA), Bernie’s Red Ale (American amber), Town Clock (German pilsner), and Milworx Mule (ginger beer).
Open since 2017, 7 Hills has a second location in Dyersville.
Where: 325 Commercial Drive, Waterloo
Bringing a little bit of Germany to Iowa, SingleSpeed Brewery features a beer hall atmosphere to its Waterloo brewery. Located in a converted bread bakery, SingleSpeed uses a 20-barrel system to produce a core of seven beers, and more than 30 special engagement brews, sours, and barrel-aged stouts.
Led by beers such as Ring Around the Gose (passionfruit/pink guava), swift (Hazy IPA), and Tip the Cow (cocoa espresso milk stout), people flock to SingleSpeed via car, foot, and even bicycle.
Front Street Brewery
Where: 208 E. River Drive, Davenport
As Iowa’s oldest brewpub, Front Street Brewery has been serving handcrafted beer since 1992. Located in Davenport’s historic Bucktown neighborhood, Front Street has been a Quad Cities favorite for 30 years.
With the brewery now on West River, the original brewery is now its fulltime taproom, with a nice food menu and serving core beers – including Raging River, Goldilocks, Cherry Bomb Blonde, Bucktown Stout, and Wiez Guy Hefe – and rotating seasonal styles. Front Street Brewery primarily produces ales.
Lost Duck Brewing Co.
Where: 725 Ave. H, Fort Madison
The Mississippi River bends in Fort Madison, traveling east to west. Confusing ducks traveling along the river, it seemed appropriate for the owners to call their new brewery Lost Duck. You may want to become a lost duck and not find your way out of the taproom, with brews such as Honey Duck Lager, featuring a drizzle of sweet honey along with hops.
While Lost Duck serves more than 30 regular and seasonal beers, you won’t find them in stores, so you’ll want to fly like a duck to the brewery to sample in person.
Mason City Brewing
Where: 28 E. State St., Mason City
Of course a brewery would name a beer after the state, and Iowana scores as one of the favorites at Mason City Brewing. A cream ale, Iowana features a light, crisp taste without an overpowering hops bitterness.
With a name like Cocoa Stout, you might think cereal (or maybe you might not), but adding 10 pounds of Ghahan nibs with its sweet milk stout gives the beer a special flavor. Using a three-barrel system, Mason City Brewing produces seven styles of beer at its downtown Mason City taproom.
Lake Time Brewery
Where: 801 Main Ave., Clear Lake
One visit here, and you’ll understand that Lake Time is a feeling and not necessarily a location. Though, you will need to find the physical Lake Time Brewery in order to find the feeling of Lake Time.
With 10 beers and sours on tap, you’ll want to order a couple of flights in order to taste all the Clear Lake brewery has to offer. Grab an outside table to soak in the lake community’s vibe. From fruity Sandy Bottoms (coriander and citrus) to a stout, the beer is flavorful and the sour outstanding. You’ll want to take a couple six packs home.
Fat Hill Brewing
Where: 17 N. Federal Ave., Mason City
Reminiscent of German beer halls, Fat Hill Brewing combines the best of Europe with good ol’ American brewing. Its seven-barrel system produces 14 regular and seasonal brews, from a honey Kolsch, made with wildflower honey, to Rongorongo New England IPA, with a low hops bitterness. Fat Hill Brewing has called Mason City home since 2016.
Peace Tree Brewing Co.
Where: 107 W. Main St., Knoxville
Home to international award-winning beer, Peace Tree Brewing Co. is known for its small batches. Its Blonde Fatale, a gold medal beer, is known for its Belgian-style ale with a medium aroma and crisp taste. Get a Little Hazy combines a citrus flavor with hops, creating a smooth appearance.
With taprooms in both Knoxville and Des Moines, Peace Tree is one of the oldest beers in Iowa, opening in 2009.
Where: 22381 221st St., Glenwood
With a nod to its Latino customers, Keg Creek created Mas, a Mexican-style lager made from Midwest-grown corn. With a light, clean taste, Mas quickly caught on with the brewery’s customers. With melon and strawberry flavors, Midwest Haze offers a clean taste without being overpowered by hops.
Named for the Creek behind the house brewers first used to produce beer, Keg Creek is also known as a waterway near Glenwood that bootleggers used to roll whiskey barrels.
Marto Brewing Co.
Where: 930 4th St., Sioux City
With a 10-barrel system, Marto Brewing Co. produces a variety of beers, from hazy IPAs to barrel-aged stouts, along with sours. With a seating capacity of about 100, the Historic Fourth Street brewery is perfect for a casual outing. With a dinner menu available, Marto has been serving customers since 2019. The brewery also offers can beer in four packs.