Monk-y business in Knoxville

I’ve been enjoying the Peace Tree Brewing wares for a couple of years now, but for some absurd reason it has taken that same amount of time to drag myself two hours to visit the Knoxville, Iowa brewery first-hand.

Owners Scott Ziller and Megan McKay Ziller are the savvy go-getters behind this operation, and brewer Joe Kesteloot keeps the beers in the winner’s column from their 20-barrel brewhouse. This weekend, the Zillers and I coordinated a book signing at The Next Chapter, located just around the corner from the brewery, as well as a reception at Peace Tree’s taproom, the latter featuring The River Monks, a talented folkish-type band out of Des Moines.

Won't you take me to Monk-y Town?

I showed up early in the afternoon so I could get the brewer’s eye view from Joe and wrap my tastebuds around a few of his beers. Of their year-round offerings, I groove on the Hop Wrangler and Red Rambler, and on this visit I found other standouts in their Tall Paul Brown Ale (which returned to the taplines when my Illuminator blew out [thanks, everyone who drank it]) as well as their Templeton Rye barrel-aged impy stout, a tasty concoction hitting all the right notes in fine balance. Following the three o’clock book signing at the book store, we tracked down a little pizza and further play into the tap lineup, which also included Peace Tree’s Rye Porter, Cornucopia, Blonde Fatale, Imperial Stout, Hop Sutra, not to mention root beer.

The tap room décor is funky, inviting and kid-friendly, and I saw people of all ages having a good time. The River Monks played a solid show, making for a nice, monk-alicious double bill. The only problem I see is space in the brewhouse: they’ve only got so much space to expand and if the buzz continues, Peace Tree is going to have capacity issues and be looking for more land. I’m just sayin.’

From branding to what’s in the bottle, I feel like these guys are doing everything right and can look forward to a bright and beery future. They deserve it, because on top of everything, they’re nice people who are invested in their community—both the beer community they’ve joined and the town of Knoxville, which they call home.

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