In summer 2012, Coralville’s Iowa River Landing became home to a world-class craft brewery called Backpocket Brewing. The 15,000-square-foot facility features a large tap room and a beer garden for the public.
The Coralville plant is an expansion of Backpocket Brewing’s other brewing operations at Old Man River Restaurant & Brewery in McGregor, Iowa. Old Man River was the dream of Dave and Marci Strutt, McGregor natives who set out to create the finest brewpub in Iowa. Jake Simmons, the Brewmaster, expanded this vision to produce world-class beers for the entire state – and Backpocket Brewing was born.
Jake, can you tell us more about the story of Backpocket Brewing?
While operating Old Man River in McGregor we decided we wanted to jump into the production brewing scene in Iowa, which required a larger operating space. We were able to work with the City of Coralville to establish Backpocket Brewing in the Iowa River Landing district. With the new facility we now have the ability to produce 15,000 to 20,000 barrels of beer per year, which we sell to customers all around Eastern Iowa. In addition, we have a tap room with a large beer garden where we serve 12 of our own beers, some sodas we produce on site and a food menu that includes pizzas and burgers.
What are some of your top-selling beers?
Our bestseller is the Slingshot Dunkel, a German style dark lager with smooth, subtle complexities. We’ve also seen a lot of growth in our IPA brews. The Backpocket Raygun IPA has been very popular. This was a collaboration we did with the Des Moines-based t-shirt company. It was lots of fun and not something many people would expect. They helped us with the label design.
How did you become a brewmaster?
I was getting a PhD in microbiology, and about three to four years into the program I realized this wasn’t the right path for me. I dropped out and dabbled in biotech work while sorting things out. Eventually I settled on brewing and I haven’t looked back since.
What do you like about banking with MidWestOne?
We initially approached MidWestOne for a line of credit and then approached them again when we needed a capital loan as a result of a stainless steel piping job that required us to increase our budget and raise more capital. MidWestOne was very accommodating to work with. We went to a bunch of banks and they were the ones who truly accommodated our needs and did so in a way that was fitting and helpful to us as a start-up company.