Eventually, getting in line to snap up a bottle of Pudgy may become impossible as Pulpit Rock’s renown deservedly grows.
Shortly after the brewery opened, I visited Decorah with a buddy to check it, and Toppling Goliath, out. I then wrote a blog on how Pulpit Rock (207 College Dr., Decorah) was easily overshadowed by nationally- and world-renowned Toppling Goliath.
The beers weren’t bad – no off-flavors, technically sound – but nothing stood out, which wasn’t good with such a heavy-hitter across the street.
I chalked it up to Pulpit being young, and thought they’d just need a chance to ramp up. They did, after all, have a brewing team with Toppling Goliath experience.
After multiple visits for their beers Loopy Lynn and Saftig – and especially after the one-year anniversary where stouts like Rechoncho (a Mexican coffee stout) and Pudgy announced that yes, it is only a matter of time until Pulpit is known across the beerverse – I can say that this brewery has reached the denouement of its arrival, finally arriving on the beer scene.
Twin Cities and local beer nerds already show the brewery well-deserved reverence.
The first pour of Pudgy at the one-year anniversary in the summer of 2016 was Pulpit’s coming of age moment. The thick, chocolatey beer, made with four different vanilla beans, giving it an unrivaled vanilla flavor, marked another milestone for Pulpit on the last Saturday of February: its first bottle release.
Pudgy was the first beer bottled by the brewery, and stands toe-to-toe with any other rare stout release, especially Toppling Goliath bottles of stouts that go for hundreds, or even over a thousand dollars, after release.
But Pulpit isn’t just defined by Pudgy. Saftig (Norwegian for juicy), one of its core beers, is a peachy orange east-coast IPA filled with mango, lemon, and melon fruit (think Japanese melons, not cantaloupe), topped off with a smooth mouthfeel. The aforementioned Loopy Lynn is more bombastic. Layers of mango, pineapple, lemon, and grapefruit assault your mouth. Pleasantly.
More recent beers on tap include Pillow Talk, a berliner weisse that perfectly combines earthy raspberries with the fruit’s sweetness with just a hint of its tartness.
Unholy Trinity, a collaboration between two other popular Iowa breweries, 515 and Alluvial, does away with what you’d expect from a wheat IPA thanks to its relentless juicy flavor spearheaded with mango, papaya, and orange flesh.
And while Pour-Over Porter isn’t something I’m ever jonesing for, it provides a heavy coffee flavor for those who like a cup of Joe. Plus, it’s been a perfect base beer for experimentation with other roasts of coffee (some that make the beer exceptional).
Pulpit’s #Gallagher is a fruit beer near the quality of New Glarus’ best fruit beer offerings (think Belgian Red).
Beer aside, the taproom seems more diverse than its neighbors. College kids, beer nerds, and locals of all ages congregate there. Expect energetic chatting and Women’s World Cup soccer playing on the lone TV.
It’s a welcoming brewery (one of the head brewers is the nicest guy you’ll meet in forever, and one taproom attendant does too much to be kind to her patrons) with a bevy of brews that rival some of the best in the Midwest, and even the nation.