The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

A local brew on the horizon

A new distillery barrel stands inside Brew Lab in Iowa City, Iowa on Wednesday, Sep. 30, 2015. Brew Lab will be opening their doors on October 15, 2015. (The Daily Iowan/Brooklynn Kascel)

A new brewery will open soon in Iowa City.

By Alex Kramer
[email protected]

A new local brewery will fill gap in the Iowa City food and drink scene.

The Iowa City Brewlab is the latest addition to the craft beer scene sweeping through Iowa. Downtown Iowa City does not currently have a brewery.

Drew Letcher, a co-founder and co-owner of the Brewlab, 505 E. Washington St., said he hopes to open shop by Oct. 15 and definitely by Nov. 1.

“My son, Nathan, and I became involved with home brewing a few years ago. Ever since then, we’ve just been immersed in studying brewing beers — the science aspect, the recipe, the formulation,” Drew Letcher said. “It’s something we’ve been consumed with.”

It will be a native Iowa brewery with a bar and taproom, he said.

Nathan Letcher, Drew’s son and co-founder, said it was his father’s idea to open the business.

“I guess we’re both kind of obsessed with brewing, so it seems natural that we would open a brewery,” he said.

The Iowa craft beer industry has seen a lot of growth in the past few years, exploding from roughly 15 breweries five years ago to about 60 today.

“There’s just been a fantastic amount of growth which is ultimately due to people who are interested in craft beer,” said Jacob Simmons, the brewmaster at Backpocket Brewing Co. in Coralville. “It’s a universal trend, and when you look at it, it’s always driven more and more demand.”

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By that logic, more interesting craft beer can only help the Iowa brewing industry as well as individual breweries, Simmons said.

“Craft beer is a rapidly growing segment, and there are lots of breweries opening up everywhere,” he said. “There are more and more people who get involved and interested in craft beer by tasting it at one place tend to go and try it at another place as well.”

Simmons said Backpocket is a different operation than what will be opening in Iowa City.

The Brewlab will be special because of its location, Drew Letcher said.

“It’s been a while since Iowa City has had its own brewery,” he said. “Iowa City is a great location for more cutting-edge-type beers. There’s everything from the classic, English styles to sour Belgium beers.”

Not only will the Brewlab offer craft beer, but a partnership with D.P. Dough is also in the works, said Jon Sewell, the owner of Iowa City’s D.P. Dough, 519 E. Washington St.

“We’re developing a menu that will be specific to the Iowa City Brewlab,” he said. “Our intention is to be able to take phone-in orders from customers in the brewery. Hopefully, we will be able to turn orders around in 10 minutes and have them delivered as we’re just two doors down from each other.”

The weekend nightlife keeps the establishment very busy Thursday through Saturday and drives a lot of D.P. Dough’s business, Sewell said.

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“We’re really excited to see it opening because our calzones and wings go really well with good beer,” he said. “To have an establishment serving as unique of a product as they are just a few steps down the sidewalk, it’s really a natural option for us to work with them.”

The Iowa City Brewlab aims to bring something new to the scene, Nathan Letcher said.

“We would like to expand on traditional pub- style beers and find our niche by experimenting with different, unusual, local ingredients, and culturing our own microorganisms,” he said. “We want to really focus on the community aspect and get Iowa City involved.”

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