It was a Friday. The sun shone bright, and the beers poured cold. I parked in front of Albia, Iowa’s historic Skean Block Building, built in 1889 by Elmer Skean, who used it as a grocery store on one side and a shoe store on the other. Later, the structure served as a furniture store, funeral home, pool hall, clothing store and a bar. It’s also sat vacant. In 1996, the building was restored and there were a few stabs at re-inhabiting the space.
Beer to the rescue! Brian and Barb Lindberg bought the building and opened Albia Brewing Company in December of 2012. I ventured to Albia recently to take a look at the Lindberg’s five-barrel brewhouse and taste the longtime homebrewer’s wares. Though it’s tough to avoid going on and on about the beautiful space that is Albia Brewing Company (though I really should mention the gorgeous brick-walled beer garden in back), I probably should take a moment to mention the beers.
Brian, who brewed his first homebrew in 1980, poured me a flight of ABC’s offerings: Black Betty Milk Stout, Cinnamon Apple (gluten-free), Avery Pale Ale, Soap Creek Shandy, Coal Miner Bock, 1889 Red Ale, Hops2 Wheat and Dooley’s Rye Porter, along with a blend of the bock and stout. In particular, I enjoyed the porter, stout and red, but they were all good.
I didn’t eat the food, but Brian says they’ve got the tasty pizzas, as well as their 50/50 burger, described on their website as “Brian’s unique blend of 50% prime beef and 50% bacon grilled to perfection & topped with pepper jack cheese, avocado mash, & a sunny-side-up egg with chipotle Adobo mayonnaise, lettuce, & tomato. Served on a Kaiser roll.” Order what you want, but on my next visit, I’m going for the 50/50, which is clearly a dead-serious burger.
Both beautiful and delicious, Albia Brewing Company is a real nugget in the southern tier of Iowa, and I’d encourage you to take a field trip and see for yourself.