Allerton Brewing Company, located in downtown Independence, opened its doors to the public last October. Independence is in Buchanan County in Northeast Iowa and the town of more than 6,000 residents now has its first brewery since the end of Prohibition.
Though it may be one of Iowa's newest breweries, it derives its name from a locally famous horse who lived and raced well over a century ago. According to the brewery's stylish website, "Allerton and Axtell were two stallions foaled by Charles W. Williams of Independence, IA. They began their trotting careers in 1888 and both earned their claim to fame setting world records. Allerton was the faster horse who set the world stallion trotting record on September 19th, 1891 at Independence’s Rush Park kite track with a time of 2:09 1/4. Allerton injured his leg later that season and retired from racing." The website goes on to note that, "Allerton Brewing Company was named after this noble horse who gained recognition in Independence, IA. Independence was referred to as “The Lexington of the North” due to the many world records set at the kite track of Rush Park. The Rush Park era (1888-1893) was a very important time in Independence’s history that we will pay tribute to through our brewery and taproom operations."
Iowa Adventurer was making a big swing through northeast Iowa on a Saturday in October and I found myself in Independence. As I was driving around and plugging things into Google on my phone, I just happened to discover that Allerton was open to the public for the first time that day. Talk about being in the right place at the right time.
The brewery is located in an old downtown building that is near the Wapsipinicon River and the historic and very stately Wapsipinicon Mill.
As of now, it appears they are occupying half of an old building that is next to the river.
There is a great old mural on the side of the building. I'm wondering if the horse in the mural is Allerton?
The inside of the building is absolutely spectacular. Kudos to whomever was brains behind turning the space into such a trendy taproom. It's clear that they definitely did not cut any corners.
It's a beautiful mix of gorgeous old wood floors, exposed brick, corrugated rusty tin, and beautiful pendant lighting.
Decades of time and weathering is the only way you can adequately "create" old brick, beat up wood floors, and rusty tin with a beautiful patina - it's pretty hard to authentically with "new" materials.
The back of the building is where they have the brewery equipment. According to their "About Us" page, they "operate on a one barrel nano brewery that lets us make a wide variety of beer styles using local ingredients."
There is a small counter where beer is poured.
Based on what I see on their Facebook page, they are regularly rolling out new beer options. However, on this opening day, these were what was available on tap.
They have their full beer offering listed on their website. There is no food menu other than some modest bar snack foods such as pretzels and beef sticks.
I only had one of the selections - the Allerton Ale. It was quite good. I'm not much for dark beers or IPAs so I often look for what may be a lighter option.
You can also purchase branded merchandise that is for sale in the tap room. They have some options on the website too.
Iowa has over 100 craft breweries and it seems like there's always news of another one on the way. It's been an outstanding success story for our state considering where we were about a decade ago. The growth and proliferation of breweries has provided jobs, economic investment, and the revitalization of many old buildings in towns all over Iowa. Like my hometown of Sheldon, I'm glad to see Independence has gotten in on this action, finally.
My visit was short (maybe 20 minutes) but I'd certainly add Allerton to my itinerary as part of another Buchanan County adventure in the future. I hope you'll do the same. If you are in the area, are a brewerist (brewery tourist), or are just looking for a town to go exploring in outside of your usual radius, I'd recommend a visit to Independence. There's other great places to stop in town and the surrounding area.
I'm certainly no beer expert and would definitely not consider myself a beer snob. That said, my experience with Allerton was a good one.
As always, I welcome your suggestions of places to visit and profile whether in Buchanan County or any of the other 98 counties in Iowa. If you have a good idea or would like to host the Iowa Adventurer, please drop me a note through this site.