What happens when David becomes the Goliath? In a few years, we may find out.
One of the state's most popular craft breweries is located in Decorah and it is quickly amassing a big fan base. While they have a long way to go before they truly do conquer the really big name giants, Toppling Goliath is quickly proving that they have plenty of stones in their pouch.
On a recent Saturday, a friend and I spent a full day in Decorah and enjoyed stops downtown, at Luther College, the farmers' market, the ice cave, the Dunnings' Spring, the fish hatchery, the eagles, Mabe's pizza, Magpie's Coffeehouse, and more. We also stopped in to visit Toppling Golliath Brewing Company as well as Pulpit Rock Brewing.
Toppling Goliath Brewing Co.
Toppling Goliath originally started in a much smaller building in the center of town - about halfway between the downtown and Luther College. However, in only a few years' time, they have outgrown that facility (though I believe they still use it?) and now have a massive new facility on the east side of Decorah on Highway 9.
It was a hot afternoon when we arrived and the lot was full of cars with license plates from both near and far. For beer lovers, this has definitely become a pilgrimage of sorts.
I was immediately blown away by the magnitude of their tap room. Not only was it full of people, but it has multiple floors.
There are a couple of different bar areas but they also had some servers working the room as well.
Near the entrance, they had a whole cooler set up where you could buy beer to take home as well as fill up and seal growlers, too.
Of course, there is also an additional counter and area where you could go shopping and buy various merchandise from t-shirts to beer glasses to stickers and socks and about everything in between.
Throughout the day we were there, they were offering 30ish minute tours of the brewing area for a fee (though it also included some beer with it). My friend and I opted to forgo the tour but maybe I'll try to fit that in as part of my next visit.
However, there were a few windows in places where you could look into the brewing area.
Toppling Goliath offers a fairly extensive selection of beer, but perhaps the one beer that really put them on the map is their "Pseudo Sue" Pale Ale. Pseudo Sue is available in many establishments in central Iowa - both on tap and in a retail setting - and it has won some serious awards and plaudits. For those that like IPAs, it has become a favorite.
At one point, it looked like the brewery was going to end up in a trademark battle with the Field Museum located in Chicago (home to Sue the T. Rex) and instead, ultimately, they ended up partnering up. It's a great story of two entities working together instead of going to, proverbial, war. Ultimately, this partnership has been fruitful in getting them into the substanial greater Chicago market.
Toppling Goliath has regular taproom hours all seven days of the week and it's worth the visit if you need some refreshment while out adventuring in the area.
Check out their Facebook page to learn more and add it to your adventure itinerary next time you are in Winneshiek County. It appears that since my visit, according to their Facebook page, they are already adding some additional outside seating.
Pulpit Rock Brewing Company
Named after the famous "Pulpit Rock" in Norway, Pulpit Rock Brewing Company is smaller than Toppling Goliath but that doesn't mean it isn't as worthy. They certainly have their fans and have a cozy location in the heart of Decorah. It's somewhat between the college and downtown - but perhaps as importantly - near the famous Whippy Dip ice cream stand.
When my friend and I pulled up, the storm clouds were literally descending on the town. Not more than 5 minutes after our arrival, a terrible storm with heavy rain and high wind bore down. It caused some tree damage during it's stay.
Though it was tight when all of the patio drinkers came inside, we were happy to be dry and waiting out the storm in the tap room. There are worse places to be stranded during an Iowa summer thunderstorm, without a doubt.
They had about 8 or 10 beverages on tap on the Saturday that we were there, including one or two guest taps.
A larger room within the facility was closed for a private event so we didn't get to see all of the brewery. However, the place has a lot of charm both inside and outside on their patio.
Like Toppling Goliath, I have seen some Pulpit Rock offerings in central Iowa as well as at the Craft Beer Tent at the Iowa State Fair. They are slowly building their following. Just as hikers make the climb to their namesake in Norway, beer connoisseurs are finding their way to Decorah. Give them a like on Facebook and check them out next time you are in the area.