LV Recommends: Iowa City Brewlab

Elder Wand at IC Brewlab
Elder Wand at Iowa City Brewlab — photo by Adam Burke

Located just outside the heart of downtown, Iowa City Brewlab has a spacious and inviting taproom that serves a continuous rotation of excellent guest taps and beers brewed on-site — individual batches of which often run out in less than a month. With its ever-changing line-up, our recommendation this month is to stop by the Brewlab and try whatever’s on tap.

After opening in November, the Brewlab served its first beer brewed on-site, Faversham’s Finest Bird, in December. Since then, the father-son brewing team of Drew and Nathan Letcher have released an array of their own beers, including barrel-aged rye porter, Lithuanian-style farmhouse ale, tripel, dunkel bock and Dortmunder-style lager. The Brewlab’s recent West Coast IPA, Seminiferous Tubloidial Bitternoid, was on par with those being brewed blocks from the Pacific Ocean. (Curious about the name? Drew Letcher says it was inspired by Beavis and Butt-Head.) Session X, a series of single-hopped pale ales that are brewed with a different hop each time, puts Mikkeller’s single-hop series to shame.

On top of brewing beer, the Brewlab collaborates with local brewers Wild Culture to produce an in-house kombucha, and offers yeast strains for homebrewing. The taproom serves as a meeting place for local homebrewers and fermenting enthusiasts, hosts painting and stein-making classes and has trivia night every Wednesday.

On the Brewlab beer schedule for May are Elder Wand, a hefeweizen brewed with elderflowers and elderberries; Rorschach, a schwarzbier; a batch of Session X brewed with Cascade hops; and Shane, an American IPA brewed with Yerba Mate. A couple of beers from April may carry over into May, such as Cookies, a Belgian tripel, and Red Planet, an imperial Irish red ale aged in Cedar Ridge bourbon and whiskey barrels.

Prices: $1.75–2 for 4.5-ounce pours; $4–5 for 12-ounces; and $5–6.50 for 16-ounces. Select beers are available in 13-ounces for $7. A flight of four 4.5-ounce samples is available for $7.50.

The Brewlab offers two sizes — 32 ounces ($4) and 64 ounces ($6). Growlers can be filled for $8–12 (32 ounces) and $14–20 (64 ounces), depending on the beer.

Food: Available in the taproom are sandwiches, meat and cheese boards, dips, pretzels, chips and nuts. Popcorn is available at night.

This article was originally published in Little Village issue 198.

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