A virtual tour and drive-through book signing explore Iowa City’s brewing heritage

Northside Iowa City Virtual Beer Tour

Wednesday, July 22 at 7 p.m. -- Online

S.C. Sherman Drive-Through Book Signing

Thursday, July 23 at 6 p.m. -- National Czech and Slovak Museum and Library

National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library in Cedar Rapids, 1400 Inspiration Place SW. — Zak Neumann/Little Village

The National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library and John’s Grocery have teamed up for a two-day celebration of beer and Iowa City’s Northside District that includes a virtual beer tour and socially distant book signing.

Iowa native and University of Iowa alumnus S.C. Sherman will sign copies of his newest book, Beer Money: A Tale of the Iowa City Beer Mafia, from 6–8 p.m. Thursday, July 23, at the museum (1400 Inspiration Place SW, Cedar Rapids). The signing follows a virtual tour and presentation on the history of beer in Iowa City from Doug Alberhasky, the owner of John’s Grocery, 7–8 p.m. on Wednesday, July 22.

Teresa Stenstrup, NCSML director of outreach and innovation, said the book signing will be unlike any other the museum has hosted — its first socially distant signing. From their cars, attendees will be able to have their book signed by Sherman on the circle drive in front of the museum, with staff from the museum and John’s Grocery passing the copies between them.

Three packages are available for purchase from the NCSML website or by calling the museum at (319) 362-8500. The Tour Only package, for $20, includes a Zoom invite to attend Alberhasky’s presentation and a $10 John’s gift card. The $37 Book & Tour Package includes a copy of Sherman’s book. At the Deluxe Package level ($85), attendees will also be given two beer glasses, a six-pack of beer curated by John’s Grocery, a $10 John’s Grocery gift card, and a copy of the Year of Beer Summer 2015 issue of Slovo, the museum’s bi-annual journal, which complemented that year’s Beer, Please! exhibition.

Beer Money: A Tale of the Iowa City Beer Mafia is a novel that uses real-life historical figures to tell the story of the 1880s clash between prohibitionists and the three most powerful brewers in Iowa City, known as the “Beer Mafia.” Czech immigrants are among the characters, which Stenstrup said gives the book a natural connection to the museum.

‘Beer Money,’ by S.C. Sherman. Published by Post Hill Press (March 10, 2020).

“We focus on Czech and Slovak heritage nationally, but the museum also likes to focus on local connections, so the book is a natural fit because it is so local,” said Stenstrup, who will be getting her own signed copy of the book on Thursday.

That’s the same reason why the museum reached out to collaborate with Alberhasky, who brings an extensive knowledge of Iowa City’s beer history.

To complement the book, Alberhasky said he has put together a 130-slide presentation that provides a virtual tour of the Northside District and imparts its beer- and blood-soaked history. “It will give everyone a slice of what living on the Northside of Iowa City in the 1880s looked like,” he said.

In order to attend the virtual beer tour, all pre-purchased packages must be ordered by 4 p.m., Wednesday, July 22.

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