Is Clarion Iowa Timbuktu...or the middle of nowhere? I guess everyone has their own opinion on that.
But I will say this...you could drop Clarion's Timbukbru into any town in Iowa - including Des Moines - and it would be one of the coolest and most popular spots anywhere. That may seem like high praise...but ever since it opened in the summer of 2018, Timbukbru Brewery has been generating some serious buzz.
On a recent Saturday, after spending some time out and about in Wright County as well as in Winnebago County, a friend and I bellied up to the bar there to watch the Iowa State Cyclones demolish the Kansas Jayhawks basketball team. If you couldn't have been in in Hilton Coliseum to see that game, being somewhere fun like Timbukbru is a pretty solid alternative.
Located a couple of blocks south of Highway 3 on the west side of Clarion, the outside of the building may not immediately seem like it would be a really notable hangout.
But once inside, you will be blown away by the attention to detail, creativity, and totally fun vibe. This is big city unique in small town Iowa.
This wall is filled with a fun mix of local and pop culture references.
The garage door has it's own unique mural.
Even the calendar of events goes above and beyond. As you'll notice, there are lots of other upcoming events happening in January.
This corner, which is the nexus between heading down a hall to the restroom and heading into the brewing area, is filled with a panoply of both local and otherwise interesting artifacts and signs.
As you head around the corner toward the restroom, you find a pinball machine and a giant map of the world.
The bookcase near the restrooms seems like just that - a book case. But...it's actually a hidden door (locked) into the business office of the brewery.
I can't attest for the women's restroom, but the men's restroom was even laugh inducing. There are female cartoon characters above the urinals looking down...
Back in the taproom, the attention to detail continues with the rustic corrugated metal ceiling.
Behind the bar is the brewing area and it's not overly large. However, the glass walls are a nice touch. If their beer gets more popular, they may have to find somewhere to expand their brewing capacity. I'm sure they'd consider that a "good problem to have".
The taproom is not enormous but it's certainly adequate. There is a nice mix of seating options. From spots at the bar and high top tables to more casual arm chairs, you can enjoy the space in a number of different ways.
From an actual beer perspective, I'm not much of a judge but I think it was probably more than passable in terms of quality. They have a modest selection of their own brews and then welcome other guest breweries to put a beer on tap.
My friend Dave was working as a bartender. Tip him well if he is working when you stop in. However, be sure to give him a hard time if he is still on the board for being the last person to break a glass.
I believe they do offer a few snack type foods for sale (such as beef sticks from Purple Ribbon Beef) but you can also help yourself to some peanuts.
Additionally, they do have some other merchandise for sale. From glassware and koozies to t-shirts.
This place is not even six months old yet and it is already putting itself on the map.
If I asked the Magic 8 Ball that was sitting on the bar about the future of this particular brewery, I would imagine it would tell me that the future is bright.
I hope local folks in Clarion and the surrounding area appreciate what a gem they truly have here. Lots of other towns around Iowa - or really any state - would kill to have a hangout with this much character. It's truly gold. I look forward to getting back to Timbuktu...I mean...Clarion again soon. There's a lot of positive things happening in Wright County.
As always, I welcome your suggestions of places to visit and profile whether in Wright 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 my website.