At 7 Hills Brewing Company, history and modernity go hand in hand.
“Seven Hills” is one of Dubuque’s oldest nicknames, said general manager Megan Carter, and the brewery’s founders wanted to pay homage to that. After all, their brewery, which opened in August 2017, is in a building built in 1916. Originally a lumber warehouse, the 10,000-square-foot space was most recently used as a parking garage.
Now, with exposed brick, skylights, a rolling garage door and gleaming brew tanks lined up near the entrance, 7 Hills fits right into Dubuque’s trendy Millwork District, where the city and businesses have been coming together to bring new life to this part of town near the Mississippi River.
“It’s just a great area, up and coming. They’re revitalizing this neighborhood, and we wanted to be a part of it,” Carter said. “We see things only going up in this area.”
Inside, long wooden tables fill much of the space, with multiple parties meant to sit at each table.
“We just wanted a big beer-hall-style restaurant,” Carter said. “We have a come-as-you-are attitude.”
The German beer hall feel also is reflected in menu items like giant pretzels and a housemade beer brat. The kitchen also serves appetizers, burgers, sandwiches and pretzel crust pizzas. A stage hosts live music on the weekends, and outdoor seating is available in the summer.
7 Hills’ brew lineup features traditional styles like pilsner, red ale, IPAs and others, along with a cherrywood imperial stout, a gluten-free ginger beer and a kettle-soured American pale ale. Seasonal brews accompany the original seven beers on the lineup, along with 7 Hills craft soda. They also serve specialty cocktails and wine.
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The brew house has a 15-barrel system, brewed at least twice a week. They have a bottling machine, but haven’t added that to their repertoire yet. However, they have started distributing kegs, and customers can take growlers or crowlers to go.
Brewing is both an art and a science, Carter said.
“We don’t make beer. We make sugar water, and the yeast makes the beer.”
Carter and her husband. Sean Carter. helped open the brewery, along with chef Tim Cogan and owner Keith Gutierrez. Sean Carter was head brewer but has since left the venture; his assistant brewer Brian Zeimet now holds that title.
“A few friends got together and said, ‘Let’s do this!’ We saw a gap in Dubuque and wanted to fill that need,” Megan Carter said.
She has worked in restaurant management for 20 years and enjoys interacting with both the regulars and newcomers who come in for a beer and a bite.