Recapping our brewery bus trip to Iowa!

Saturday, March 4th, we took a sold-out brewery bus trip to Iowa for stops at Pivo Brewery & Blepta Studios, Pulpit Rock Brewing Company, & Toppling Goliath Brewing Company!

This was our first sold-out beer bus, and everyone was extremely thirsty!! Don’t forget, we’re also taking a bus to the 2023 MN Craft Beer Festival on Saturday, April 1st, and you can buy tickets for that by clicking here.

Our first stop was at PIVO(which is Czech for “beer”) and it did NOT disappoint. The wife & I have been here before, but we were excited for a return visit to sample more of their beers & take a short tour of the building.

We arrived right as the opened and their wonderful staff was ready for us! We all sat down, ordered some food & beverages, and Sara(the owner) split us into two groups for a brief tour of their facilities.

Of course, right after we arrived, I was talking to someone by the main entry to the beer hall & I happened to drop an F-Bomb(as I’ve been known to do occasionally), only to turn around & see a priest standing right behind me! Insert foot into mouth!

PIVO has a VERY large selection of beers on tap, which is a bit rare for a brewery that’s only been around for five years & some change. We were able to enjoy a flight of beers(The Kendallville Coffee Cream Ale, The Castalia Chocolate Raspberry Stout, The Saint Lucas Honey Weizen, & The Festina Farmhouse Ale) and I grabbed another pint before leaving(The Highlandville Scottish Ale).

Really enjoyed the beers we tried & would definitely like to spend more time at PIVO in the future, sampling even more of their offerings. Especially in the summer when we could spend some time on their outdoor patio. I didn’t eat while we were there, but everyone in our group who was eating did give the food a thumbs up!

Stellar service, great beer & food, and a wonderful atmosphere. They’ve got a gift shop with t-shirts, hoodies, & more…and they’ve also got an event center if you’re looking to host a get-together.

After PIVO, we hopped back on the bus & headed for Pulpit Rock Brewing Company in Decorah!

Wife & I had planned on stopping at Pulpit in the past when we first went to PIVO & Toppling Goliath a few years ago, but they hadn’t reopened at the time after the Covid lockdowns.

Needless to say, I was really excited to try their beers! And they did NOT disappoint! A nice variety of stouts, IPAs, sours, & more for every kind of beer lover.

Pulpit does not offer tours, but they do have a great indoor bar with a nice outdoor patio, an event room for overflow & special occasions, and some of the outdoor domes if you wanna stay warm while you’re drinking outside! Plus, how can you go wrong when they’re showing repeats of “Seinfeld” on the TV?

We decided to stay in the bar & the wife had their “Missing You” pastry sour. If you know me, I do not like sours at all. I’m a stout/porter kinda guy…but this beer was extremely well balanced, and had a crisp, clean finish without a ton of sour-puckering. I went straight for the “Phelp’s Park Porter” before grabbing a few samples of their “Pure Joy” pastry imperial stout(a hefty 11%), and their “VENN” imperial stout(another 11% beer).

Extremely satisfied with the beer, and their great staff did an awesome job accommodating our full bus while they were already very busy! Much like PIVO, I’d really love to visit Pulpit Rock during the summer to sit outside & see what kind of summer beers they have on tap!

Our final stop of the day was at Toppling Goliath Brewing Company(the largest brewery in Iowa!)

Having been here before, I was already aware of their beers & food, but we hadn’t yet taken a tour of the facility. So I was really looking forward to that.

If you’ve been to TG before, you probably know they’ve got a massive dining/drinking area with a cool balcony, a really well-stocked gift shop, and an incredible food menu filled with apps, entrees, and PIZZAS!

Due to our short stay coupled with the length of the tour, I wasn’t able to sample as many beers as I was hoping to while at Toppling Goliath, but I definitely enjoyed my “Rover Truck Oatmeal Stout”. It’s a well balanced stout with notes of coffee, and at 5%, you can enjoy a few!

The tour was great, but to be perfectly honest….one thing stood out head & shoulders above everything else on the tour. And that’s the barrel room. The smell alone is something you could make a fortune on if you could bottle it up & sell it. It’s a breath-taking sight and that smell is still lingering in my nostrils. Ugh…I’ve been dreaming about that aroma since we left!

Wife & I had the meat-lovers pizza and let’s just say that it didn’t last long!

I will definitely be returning to Toppling Goliath in the future, but it’ll either be just me & the wife, or a much smaller group. Because of the size of our group, it took awhile for all of our beer & food orders to get taken & served. The staff did an incredible job & it was nice that all the food & beer came out at the same time, rather than someone getting theirs while you sit there wondering where yours is.

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Brian Simpson

Unapologetic fan of the Red Sox, Patriots, Bruins & Celtics. Lover of powerful, dark beers. Married with NO kids. Ever. Lover of doggos. Not so much cats.

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