The story of Toppling Goliath begins nearly ten years ago, when Clark and Barb Lewey decided to take their craft beer talents full-scale. Their success with brews is now such that when I mentioned my upcoming road trip to beer-minded friends, they unanimously said, well, can you go through Decorah?
The last time I saw Decorah was on a bike during a segment of RAGBRAI back in the early 2000s…so clearly a less strenuous engagement was in order. We planned a detour and pulled into the brand new taproom on the outskirts of town (you can’t miss it–it is bright red) and spent a few key minutes getting to know our TG ambassador at the bar. He guided us well through the options, with a very Iowan friendliness.
Being IPA-oriented, but also open to sours and the darker arts, I came up with a tasting plan, while my partner in crime chose the wonderfully named Fire, Skulls & Money IPA for his full brew. He likes to focus on one beer; I like to try many.
His choice, however, proved sound: Fire, Skulls & Money (7.2% abv) made the top of both of our lists for the tasting overall, and we took a 4-pack with us, along with the Pompeii IPA (we would meet up with a lot of IPA-loving friends in Oshkosh up the road). I selected the following from the well-balanced brew menu:
Starting (on the far left) with the Dorothy’s New World Lager (5.8% abv), made with Cascade hops, I found it golden and rounded–a smooth lager to enjoy on a warm afternoon. Next, the famous Pseudo Sue American Pale Ale (6.2% abv). With Citra hops, this ale gave me banana bread aromas, with a taste of grapefruit pith.
The Pompeii IPA (6.2% abv), in the middle, made me think again of grapefruit, but of a peel that’s been roasted a bit, plus hints of walnuts on the palate. The Rover Truck (6.1% abv), an oatmeal stout, tempted with maple aromas, and a taste of brown bread with a touch of coffee. Yum.
Finally, the Dragon Fandango, a kettle sour ale (4.2% abv), refreshed my palate admirably. With mango on the nose and tastebuds, with a balance of passion fruit, the DF was a sour that wasn’t too sour–a nice treat.
You can find the taproom at 1600 Prosperity Road, Decorah, Iowa; call (563) 387-6700 or visit the website. One bit of advice to the wise: Best to have a designated driver, as we did note the local guys in blue making the rounds, keeping us safe, as we departed.