The 'middle of nowhere' is here as brewery opens in Iowa Falls
By Corey Meints of the Times Citizen Newspaper
Opening a brewery in the tiny Wright County town of Clarion was no small move for Willie and Teresa Lancaster and their business partners. It was an even bigger move for the Lancasters to open a second Timbukbrü on their own amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Perhaps the only easy part of the decision was where to open the second location.
Timbukbrü co-owner Willie Lancaster said the new location in Iowa Falls has the same vibe as the original craft brewery in Clarion. But subtle differences make it unique. The new business opened last Friday
“Iowa Falls kept us afloat,” Willie said. “We had about $1,000-$1,200 a week just in crowlers when we were closed and started delivering, and that helped pay a lot of bills in Clarion. We are very grateful to Iowa Falls.” Crowlers are 32-ounce cans of beer sold for at-home consumption of beer.
Timbukbrü started as a group idea. The Lancasters and a few former coworkers had come to the conclusion that their jobs at the time weren’t enough. When another company bought their employer, the culture changed, and the six friends came together to do something different.
“We were used to a certain thing, so three of us – myself, Teresa and Clint Middleton – decided to just do something else,” Willie said. “They went to work for another company and I decided to start building a brewery.”
That brewery opened in 2018. A year later, Teresa joined him as taproom manager.
Willie and Teresa Lancaster's new Iowa Falls brewery, Timbukbrü, is catching the eyes of passersby at the intersection of Washington Avenue and River Street. Another attention-grabber is the couple's rat rod car, which has been parked out front since the business opened on July 10.
After months of planning for Timbukbrü’s new location, and then weathering the coronavirus shutdown, Willie said it was great to be able to open the new place on July 10.
“It’s awesome – nine months of pretty much working every day for 12 or 14 hours – yeah, this is awesome,” Willie said last week. “The people of this community are just unbelievable. There’d be people stopping to offer to help and not accepting any money. That helped.”
Timbukbrü in Clarion is very similar to Timbukbrü in Iowa Falls. But, Willie said, there are differences.
“It’s the same style, but this one in Iowa Falls is about 50 percent bigger,” he said. “But it’s still the same epic (stuff).”
The interior of the Timbukbrü brewery in Iowa Falls features a mural that includes nods to Iowa Falls.
Making the Iowa Falls Timbukbrü unique is a mural inside the building. There’s a clear nod to the history of the building - the town’s former Pop Shoppe - with a bottle painted right in the middle. A few other Iowa Falls-specific themes are included, and the rest is worth asking about.
“There are some definite shout-outs on the wall,” Willie said.
Other than the subtle differences, like daily themes, the Iowa Falls location will offer the same craft brews as those served in Clarion. Right now all of the beer served in Iowa Falls is coming from Clarion. But soon - the vats have been installed and brewmaster Adam Schuchmann is getting ready - Timbukbrü Iowa Falls will become a second brewing location.
“We have not brewed any of our own here at this point,” Willie said. “It’s going to take us about three or four weeks to get our first couple brews in. Once we start, about 80 percent of our stuff will be brewed here, and about 50 percent of that will be just for here.”
One of those beers will be the Coffee Attic Oatmeal Stout, the result of a partnership with Kat and Pat Bissell, who own the Coffee Attic in downtown Iowa Falls.
“We wanted to do a collaboration,” Willie said. “I go up there about every day to get an Americano, so [Pat] went ahead and donated a bunch of concentrate of the coffee they use for that. So, we made a beer.”
Willie said there’s a special event every day of the week at Timbukbrü - things like BINGO, karaoke, trivia and bike night. There’s also an open mic night called “practice night,” as well as bands and comedians.
Owners Willie and Teresa Lancaster have spent nearly a year renovating the building on the southeast corner of Washington Avenue and River Street to become the new Timbukbrü brewery location. Most recently, it was a hair salon, but decades ago it was known as the Pop Shoppe.
The exact schedule is still in the works. And so is the beer lineup. Willie said they’re planning to add a line of sours to the taps, which already include pilsners, wheats, IPAs, ales, stouts and porters. They plan to have 18 beers on tap – 15 of their own and three from other Iowa breweries.
While Willie likes the idea of the Timbukbrü name spreading, and the brewery being known for good beer, he said he doesn’t necessarily want the business to get much larger than it already is.
“We’re not a big brewery, nor do we really want to become a big brewery,” Willie said. “We like the small-town atmosphere where we can sit down and talk to people and know them. There’s big breweries with great beers and great people, but we want to know our customers.”