By: Emily Weber
When you think of the Cedar Rapids the future has in store, what do you envision?
The Corridor Review met with Bill Patterson–Turner Alley Brewing Company owner– to talk about his brewery, Cedar Rapids beer culture, and good craft beer. Patterson told The Corridor Review that he sees Cedar Rapids really at the beginning of its journey toward becoming a “Beer City.” Cedar Rapid’s beer scene is built on a solid foundation, it’s growing fast, and in the near future Patterson envisions Cedar Rapids as destination city for good beer. Unlike cities that have already been crowned “Beer City, USA,” like Grand Rapids, Denver, Portland, Chicago, Portland… Cedar Rapids still has room to grow & create new beers. The excitement around the new craft beer scene is just getting started, the demand is there, and Cedar Rapids beer culture is on its way to becoming something great. With new beers popping up every day, it’s an exciting time!
So what’s Turner Alley Brewery’s role in the Cedar Rapids Beer Scene?
From this writer’s perspective, Turner Alley Brewing has a unique, very unaffected but still unmistakably hip, vibe. They’ve been producing beer here in Cedar Rapids since 2015, out of a refurbished warehouse on the Southwest side. It’s only been a short time, but you might be living under a rock if you haven’t had their Czech Village Pilsner yet (this beer makes up about 75% of what goes out the brewery’s production doors and it can be found on-tap at bars all around the Corridor). For the past year, you’ve been able to try Turner Alley beer on-tap at places like Brewhemia & Bricks to Need Pizza & NewBo City Market. Iowa City Chop House & Short’s. You can even find their beer at Kinnick Stadium & Theatre Cedar Rapids. And of course if you’re among the crowd that travels outside of The Corridor you’ll find the Czech Village Pilsner at El Bait Shop. And that’s just the short list.
But, now Turner Alley Brewing has officially opened their taproom. It’s a perfect fit for this brewery, too, because when you hear them talk about how a good beer scene cultivates good food, art, culture, and community– you’re glad to hear they have a place where people can sit down and enjoy a good conversation, hang out and relax over a board game (we played Backgammon), and drink some great beer!
The Turner Alley taproom is at 2715 12th St. SW and it just opened with hours 4-10pm Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. Though the brewery and taproom are in a pretty industrial center of Cedar Rapids, it’s not far from places we all know and love. Just a 15 minute bike ride from Czech Village (the center of this writer’s universe), AND one fun way to get there would be taking the under-used Wilson Avenue bike path. See:
The brewery seats about 50 people and the building (previously a warehouse) is totally open-concept. Very cool, very fitting with the southwest side’s warehouse/factory feel. AND THEY CAN HAVE FOOD TRUCKS. Turner Alley Brewing has been hosting local food trucks, like The Grateful Crepe, outside the brewery. And as the weather gets warmer they plan to do even more. This does more than just provide tasty food for brewery visitors, it’s helping to build Cedar Rapids’ food truck scene is a sure-fire way to create the destination city we’re all hoping for. Kudos to the brewery for being a part of this.
The Corridor Review team has visited the taproom a few times, and managed to consume many of the beers they had on tap at that time (just for our readers, of course!).
For those of you at home who want the run-down, here’s our take on the beers in no order. You can also find where we were live-tweeting as we had them on Twitter @CorridorReview here:
- Czech Village Pilsner—a classic pilsner, and I promise, we’re not the only ones who will tell you this tastes just like the pils in Prague. This is the beer that I have to believe will put the Cedar Rapids beer scene on the map. I like it more than the East Village Pilsner from Green Flash Brewing & the Lagunitas PILS, just of two ‘largely-distributed in the midwest’ Czech Saaz pilsners that come to mind. This one’s a quick favorite.
- Roosevelt Imperial Red- Full-bodied, hoppy & malty. 8.2% ABV. Stay tuned to try this one barrel aged–coming in early autumn. Yum.
- Almond Joy Stout (special seasonal)- an almond, chocolate, coconut stout that is not too sweet. One of our writer claims “you can really taste that cookie crunch!”
- Vanilla Stout (special seasonal)- tastes like: Stout + Bourbon + Vanilla Beans.
- Breakfast Stout (special seasonal)- A coffee-forward stout. Delicious.
- Stout (standard)- Roasted coffee, toffee, & cranberry. Just the right amount boozy. Four very delicious stouts to be had
- Wood’s Wheat—The perfect bike-ride beer. Crisp & refreshing. Try it while you train for RAGBRAI at Turner Alley’s bike riding event on April 2nd.
What’s the story behind the Grant Wood connection, anyway?
Grant Wood is one of the most prolific artist in modern art history, in Patterson’s opinion, and he lived right here in Cedar Rapids. Since “American Gothic” is the second most recognized (after the Mona Lisa) and first move reproduced painting in the world, Turner Alley Brewing believes it only makes sense to celebrate someone local who made such large contributions to the national art scene (maybe #IowaBrag about our local contributions to culture a little bit?). It’s the same thing Turner Alley Brewing is trying to do with their beers, after all. “Great beer is like an art form,” Patterson says.
And Grant Wood is ubiquitous at the brewery. He’s in the brewery name, the décor, the paint brush tap handles, and some of the special release beers. This just goes to prove that Turner Alley Brewing is proud to be found in Cedar Rapids. Many of their standard beers or special releases are nods to local places or special components of the Cedar Rapids arts & culture scene (Czech Village Pilsner, May’s Island IPA, Brucemore Brown Ale).
Other than the local connections, what makes Turner Alley unique?
- “Turner Alley is committed to high quality.
- The brewery’s vibe is genuine. It embraces all people from every walk of life.
- Turner Alley Brewing is dedicated to becoming a destination brewery in Cedar Rapids—a place where people would drive a great distance to go.”
Think again, of that future Cedar Rapids. Let’s admit that many of us have driven across state lines for that six-pack of New Glarus beer, right? Patterson envisions a future where Wisconsinites (and people from all over) are driving to Cedar Rapids to pick up a six pack of Czech Village Pilsner. And that’s a future Cedar Rapids this writer can get behind.
So what’s new at Turner Alley Brewing?
Wednesday, April 6th 4-8pm: Brucemore Imperial Brown Ale release
Great Friends of Turner Alley program: Includes lots of great perks, including some unique ones–free growler fills of seasonal releases & direct email access with the Brewmaster to name a few.
May 21 11am-3pm: Tour de Tanks (FREE!)
Autumn: Barrel Aged Beer Releases.
And finally, just your basic background on Turner Alley Brewery:
Turner Alley Brewing is a regional production brewery opened in 2015. Owner, Bill Patterson grew up in a suburb of Detroit and has lived around the country in San Francisco and Chicago, before moving back to Iowa in 2012, thinking Iowa would be a great place for family and business. Patterson’s family clearly plays an important role in the family business, his kids even got to help paint the brewery’s grain storage room! Adorable.
Brewmaster, Travis Scheidecker grew up in Illinois and worked as Brewmaster at The Cedar Brewing Company beginning in 2005. Bill and Travis met over Czech pilsners at a Third Base Brewery bottle share and discussed the idea of opening up a production brewery in Cedar Rapids.
The Turner Alley Brewery is named for 5 Turner Alley, in a nod to local infamous artist, Grant Wood.