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Craft Beer Industry Still Booming in Iowa... With Room for Growth

Ben Kieffer
Iowa Public Radio

This program originally aired on May 18, 2017.

In Iowa, the craft beer industry has been booming. New breweries have been opening everywhere from Clear Lake to Iowa City to Des Moines. J. Wilson is minister of beer at the Iowa Brewers Guild.  He says the growth is a return to what the beer industry looked like before prohibition.

Andy Joynt and Danny Stanley of Big Grove Brewery in Iowa City

“Slowly, you’ve seen home brewers transitioning into the professional realm,” says J. Wilson. “We produced about 41,000 barrels of beer in 2014. The five year projection was that we would more than triple that by 2019. We’re definitely on a forward trajectory. There’s a lot of growth happening, and a lot more to be had.”

Dave Swenson is an economist at Iowa State University. He says the growth in locally produced beer and spirits is part of a larger local foods movement.

“Craft brewing and also vineyards - we also have distilleries popping up. They are part of a local foods, local consumption movement. There are many parts to it – nutrition, trying to support farmers, trying to support new or fledgling businesses. It’s about trying to get people to buy food stuffs and beverages locally,” says Swenson.

During this hour of River to River, host Ben Kieffer talks with Wilson; Dave Ropte, who is an owner of 515 Beer Company in Des Moines; Swenson, and takes a tour of Big Grove Brewery, a new 26,000 square foot lumber warehouse turned brewery that’s just opened in Iowa City. Danny Standley, managing partner and Andy Joynt, head brewer at Big Grove Brewery lead the tour.   

Ben Kieffer is the host of IPR's River to River