116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
My Biz: Beer enthusiast turns passion into business
KALONA - Long before opening Kalona Brewing Company in September 2013, Lew Brewer experimented with recipes and dreamed about opening his own brewery.
But it wasn't until two years ago that the stars aligned to make that dream possible.
'We started out kind of slow, but once we started getting our products on shelves in stores, people started to find us here,” he said. 'Developing a customer base can be a challenge, but we are working with integrity to make the best product possible.”
Today, Brewer said the brewery has become a spot for friends to gather and enjoy an interesting beer or two.
'Right now we have a coconut ale that is pretty crazy, but really great.” he said.
But the business offers more than just beer.
In addition to the taproom and brewery, Kalona Brewing Company includes a restaurant with a menu full of locally sourced foods.
'We try to cover a broad range of foods,” Brewer said. 'I do have to say that our wood-fired pizzas are pretty amazing.”
He and his team of six also strive to create a family friendly atmosphere, which includes a social area with couches and a fireplace as well as four sodas on tap so that younger visitors can try a flight of drinks, too.
Kalona Brewing Company products are also distributed through local retailers, including Hy-Vee, New Pioneer Food Co-Op and John's Grocery.
'I spend a lot of time working with distributors to educate them about our beers,” Brewer said. 'You want them to get to know your product and to get to know you as the brewer. So I end up doing a lot of promotion.”
Brewer credits his sons with the look of the space - one designed the interior while the other developed the marketing materials and logo. And he's grateful for the role his partner, Ted Nagy, plays in handling the business side of the brewery, which makes them an efficient team.
'I'm on the creative side of the business but that wouldn't happen without what he does,” he said.
While recipe development remains Brewers favorite part of his job, he said he also truly enjoys the relationships he builds in the brewing community.
'This is a unique industry because we share information and help each other out,” he said. 'That's a fun thing.”
At a glance
l Name: Lew Brewer
l Title: Co-founder and head brewer
l Company: Kalona Brewing Company
l Address: 405 B Ave., Kalona
l Phone: (319) 656-3335
l Website: www.kalonabrewing.com
l Know a manager or company in business for more than a year that would be ideal for 'My Biz”? Contact Chelsea Keenan at email@example.com