The Midwest certainly has its share of well-known beer towns—Milwaukee, St. Louis, Coralville. Coralville? Yes, the small Iowa town is home to the Backpocket Brewing company, which has successfully been brewing craft beer since 2012. It may not quite be on the map with Anheuser Busch or Miller, but those iconic brands have been gobbled up into multinational corporations anyway. Craft brews are getting the attention now, and Backpocket is making some of the best.
The brewery is an expansion of the Old Man River Restaurant & Brewery in McGregor, Iowa, which is located on the Mississippi River in the northeastern part of the state. Owners Dave and Marci Strutt expanded their original vision of a brew pub to include a brewery that would be able to produce beer to be sold all over the state.
When the $5.3 million, 15,000-square-foot facility opened in the summer of 2012, it became the largest brewery in Iowa. Backpocket now creates five beers year-round for distribution to bars and restaurants as well as to be served in the taproom on the premises.
Those include Slingshot, a dark German lager that’s actually light in color. But don’t let that fool you, it still has the toasted flavor associated with dark beers. Gold Coin is a German blond lager, which is simple, light and drinkable, while the Scottish Wooden Nickel is a unique beer that combines German yeast, hops and techniques with the smoky favor of Scottish malts.
The Pennywhistle is a refreshing Bavarian Wheat with a “hint of clove and a touch of cinnamon.” And finally the Jackknife Pale Ale offers a combination of American hops to create a flavorful and versatile beer that’s great for any occasion.
Of course, that doesn’t begin to cover all of Backpocket’s offerings that are available seasonally.
The best way to experience what Backpocket has to offer is in its onsite taproom, which is located in the brewery. Or more specifically, it’s part of the brewery, with no walls or glass to separate you from the operations.
The taproom opens at 11 a.m. seven days a week, with the kitchen open until 9 p.m. during the week and 10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. On the menu you’ll find burgers and typical pub appetizers, done well, in addition to signature pizzas and flatbreads.
Get a sense of all that Backpocket has to offer by trying one of several flights on the menu, with samplers of either the classic brews or specialty brews. You can’t go wrong either way.
So maybe Coralville isn’t quite in the same league as Milwaukee or St. Louis yet. But for anyone looking at an impressive craft brewery experience, why would you go anywhere else?