CEDAR RAPIDS — When Haley and Travis Flenker were trying to come up with a new name for their brewery, they went to Google and started searching for words that conveyed their vision of building up the community around them with their business.
The name they settled on, Thew Brewing, comes from a Middle English word for strength and vitality.
Hayley Flenker said that represents what they want to bring to the community around them.
“Our mission statement is building community through beer,” she said. “Beer brings people together.”
That means being part of the business community by collaborating with other restaurants and bars as well as by donating a portion of profits to nonprofits and organizing volunteer efforts with their customer base. They are planning an Earth Day cleanup activity, for example, and are brewing a special beer for the Hops for Housing fundraiser on April 7 for Willis Dady Homeless Services. Portions of sales of that beer in the brewery will be donated.
“We want to get our customer base to rally around some causes and get out in the community,” Flenker said. “I’ve always just really wanted to help people.”
She has a degree in medical transcription but said in her last job she didn’t feel she was helping people. She hopes this new venture creates opportunities to give back.
“Owning a business, you’re in a unique position to have that kind of impact,” she said.
The couple got into beer through home-brewing. But Haley Flenker admits at one point she didn’t even like beer.
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“It took me a while to get into craft beer. Then I found my gateway beer, Summit Extra Pale Ale, and a light bulb went off in my head,” she said. “I really like to hear people’s gateway beer stories.”
The brewery opened this month just in time for St. Patrick’s Day in Kingston Village, after more than two years of planning, market research and remodeling on the southwest side.
The space used to be Corner Pocket bar, which relocated down the street, but had sat empty for a few years. Renovating it took a lot of work, from patching a hole in the wall to painting the ceiling, which was black and made the room feel much smaller than it was, Flenker said. Now, the concrete floor and bar are offset by two walls of windows and white walls, with lots of natural light.
They have a six-barrel brewing system and are serving a mix of beers, from pale ales to saisons to stouts, as well as some more experimental small batches, Flenker said. They also are brewing custom beers for other bars and restaurants through their Brew for You program. Designing those beers is collaborative and involves conversations with clients about what pairs well with their menus and brand, she said.
Though Thew Brewing doesn’t serve food, people are welcome to bring food in, or they can order it for delivery from places such as the nearby Maid-Rite. Flenker said they hope to partner with food trucks once the weather is warmer.
Thew Brewing is the latest establishment to open in a quickly changing neighborhood, with condominiums going up and several businesses opening in recent months, including Quinton’s Bar and Deli, Dash Coffee Roasters and Local Pour & Street Food, all within a few blocks of one another in a district devastated 10 years ago by the Floods of 2008.
“Finding this location was the last piece of the puzzle,” Flenker said. “We really liked the idea of being able to build this neighborhood.”
If you go
What: Thew Brewing
Where: 301 Second Ave. SW, Cedar Rapids
Hours: 4 to 10 p.m. Tuesday to Thursday, 3 to 11 p.m. Friday, noon to 11 p.m. Saturday and noon to 8 p.m. Sunday
Details: (319) 343-8439, thewbrew.com
l Comments: (319) 398-8339; firstname.lastname@example.org