Before 2009, Clark Lewey had trouble finding the craft beer he sought in his northeast Iowa home. “For years Barb and I bought our beer in Rochester as our local distributors had little craft to offer,” says Lewey, who went on to cofound Toppling Goliath Brewing Co. with Barb, his wife.
In the seven quick years since he started the Decorah, Iowa, brewery, Lewey’s products have won acclaim and struggled to keep up with demand. First brewing on a tiny half-barrel system, they upgraded to a 10 bbl system (for comparison, most of Rochester’s breweries use 7 bbl), but they still could not meet demand. In 2015, the brewery partnered with a Lakeland, Fla., company to help produce more beer, and they recently received Decorah city approval to break ground on a new brewery that will increase production to 100 bbl.
As they grow, it’s getting easier to find their beer. In 2015, Toppling Goliath began distribution in Minnesota, meaning that while Decorah is just 75 miles away, the beer could finally be purchased in Rochester instead of necessitating a road trip.
With so many local beers to choose from, why did Toppling Goliath decide to enter Minnesota? “Proximity and neighborly pride,” Clark says. Plus, he has a deep connection with Rochester—their Minnesota account manager is based in town and the Leweys are members at Somerby Golf Club.
While Clark often makes the trip to Rochester, he welcomes anyone who wants to make a trip to see Decorah. “The atmosphere is small town chill,” he says, and a visit firmly reflects the brewery’s miniscule start-up, even as their employee total has risen from 1 to 25 today. Besides the beer, he stresses the city’s scenery in the Driftless Region, notably the river valleys, wildlife, and eagle sightings.
Four flagship brews are locally available in 16 oz. cans with seasonal offerings in 22 oz. bottles. Cans are currently produced in Florida while 22 oz. bottles come from neighboring Iowa.
Dorothy’s New World Lager
- Classic and clean, a California Common-style lager with an emphasis on balance and easy drinking.
Rover Truck Stout
- A toasted oatmeal stout with a heavy body and dry chocolate notes.
psuedoSue Pale Ale
- A juicy pale ale with citrus, grapefruit, and a hint of pine that‘s perfect for summer.
Golden Nugget IPA
- India Pale Ale mixing Golden Promise and Nugget hops for a pine-forward aroma but a floral flavor profile with delicate tropical fruits depth and a bitter finish.
Find them at Andy’s, Apollo, Northwest Liquors, Hy-Vee Wine & Spirits, Whistle Binkies, ZZest, Brothers Bar & Grill, Wildwood, Thirsty Belgian, and Kathy’s Pub.