ELY — When Iowa State University graduate Cal Corrin started dating Hawkeye sports fan Lisa, neither one was going to compromise on their sports loyalties.
Lisa, originally from Arizona, moved to Iowa in 2007 to finish her nursing degree at Mount Mercy and said all the friends she made in Cedar Rapids were Hawkeye supporters. She now works at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, further cementing her Hawkeye credentials.
“When we started dating, I thought, let’s keep it interesting, and I’ll stay a Hawkeye fan,” she said.
Now the couple are married, and they’ve opened House Divided Brewery, named in honor of all the households like theirs where people come together despite competing fandoms.
Cal started brewing his own beer in the 1990s.
“When I first started, there wasn’t a lot of craft beer available. That’s what got me started. I didn’t like buying Bud Light,” he said.
He stopped for a while, then got back into it about seven years ago, when Lisa bought him a home brewing kit for a Father’s Day gift.
“Now, you can buy just about any style of beer you want, but I liked looking at recipes. When I started, I would copy them exactly, but now I’ll think about what I want to make and create my own. I like experimenting, trying different hops, different flavors, different ingredients.”
Turning his hobby into a business has been something he’s considered for a long time, while working as a supervisor at Penford (now Ingredion) and Diamond V.
“I always had it in the back of my mind that it would be cool to open my own brewery,” Cal said.
He looked for a location in Cedar Rapids and Marion but didn’t find anything that matched what he wanted. The couple moved to Ely from Marion in 2015 and he thought that between residents and cyclists from Cedar Rapids, the town could support a brewery.
“It’s a growing town, and the bike path goes right here,” Cal said.
Empty storefronts were scarce, however, so he connected with Todd Prokop, who owned a downtown lot across the street from the Ely Public Library. He worked with Prokop to build a new space for House Divided Brewery.
The downtown Ely brewery officially opened Oct. 26. Cal just got final approval of his federal brewing license, so original beers should be on tap in a few weeks. In the meantime, the brewery is pouring craft brews from other Iowa breweries.
Lisa said she’s happy to see her husband’s efforts come to fruition.
“This is his dream,” she said.
Despite the House Divided moniker, she said they aren’t overly focused on the sports theme. The logo is green and yellow, keeping away from Iowa or Iowa State colors. The emphasis is that all are welcome, she said.
“I didn’t want the feel of the brewery to be strictly Iowa-Iowa State. We wanted the people coming to feel like they’re hanging out in our backyard, we wanted that tailgating feel,” she said.
The building features a rolling garage door that can open the tap room to a grassy lawn and patio in warmer weather. Cal and Lisa plan to have outdoor seating, bike racks, live music and games such as corn hole in the summer and to partner with food trucks. They don’t make any food in-house, but customers are welcome to bring in outside food. With a small three barrel brewing system, Cal said he plans to focus on crafting beers for the tap room rather than wider distribution.
“The system is small enough that you can experiment. It lets me be flexible and keep trying new things,” he said. “I don’t plan to have flagship beers. I’ll always have something different.”
That could change if people always clamber for a specific beer, he acknowledged.
“I have a black IPA I make. Everyone likes it, so I’ll probably be making that a lot.”
If You Go
• What: House Divided Brewery
• Where: 1620 Dows St., Ely
• Hours: 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday, 4 to 10 p.m. Monday to Thursday, 4 p.m. to midnight Friday and 11 a.m. to midnight Saturday
• Details: (319) 848-4197, facebook.com/HouseDividedBrewery
Comments: (319) 398-8339; email@example.com
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