I worked in the Iowa Legislature when they voted to allow the production of higher ABV (alcohol by volume) beers in 2010. Since that time, we have seen an explosion of breweries in Iowa. Many entrepreneurs have taken a hobby and turned it into a full-fledged business. A number of these breweries have popped up in rural communities, helping to revitalize an old building on the square, create new jobs, and generate enhanced economic activity.
After a visit to Wilson's Orchard outside of Solon, a friend of mine thought I would really enjoy checking out the new Iowa City location of Big Grove Brewery. The original location is in Solon, a small town a few minutes from Iowa City.
I've been to a few breweries in Iowa but what awaited me at Big Grove in Iowa City was a set-up you might expect to see in much larger city like Denver or maybe San Francisco. The shear size, attention to detail, finishes, decor, and amenities make this easily one of Iowa's preeminent tap rooms. Hands down.
It's more than a fully operational brewery - it's an event space, a concert venue, a restaurant, and a classy hangout...and that's before you even consider the quality of the brews, which are obviously popular.
When I was there, at around 2pm on a very unseasonably warm Saturday afternoon, it was not packed. But then again, 75,000 Iowa and Penn State fans were tailgating only minutes away. Given the availability of large televisions, food, beverage, and space, I can only imagine it will a popular place for the Hawkeyes' upcoming road games.
This facility is located not far from the river and there is an ambitious plan to revitalize big stretches of the land near and next to the river. When it's all done, I am confident it will be quite beautiful.
There is a lot of seating inside, but Big Grove has some nice patio space and plenty of areas for yard games, live music, and even ping pong.
My friend and I had to get moving so we only stayed for one beer, but Big Grove is definitely a place where you can gather with friends or family and spend a good chunk of your day (or evening) hanging out.
To learn more about Big Grove, check out their website HERE. They have a pretty interesting "history" page if you are into that sort of thing.
I look forward to future adventures in Johnson County, but in the meantime, check out some photos I took while at the brewery.
If you have an idea for a place I should visit and profile, send me your suggestion HERE.