Mahaska Excited For Craft Beer Expansion

Tanks for a new craft beer brewery at Mahaska being assembled. (submitted photo)

Tanks for a new craft beer brewery at Mahaska being assembled. (submitted photo)

by Carissa Osborn

There’s a new craft beer brewery coming to Iowa, and it’s being built right in Oskaloosa. Mahaska started construction on the new brewery a few months ago with plans to open by mid summer. The brewery will include 6 different beers to start out with as well as various seasonal beers throughout the year. Chuck Crabtree is the Head Brewmaster and brings years of experience to the brewery.

Crabtree first started brewing when he was just out of college in the late 80’s. He has held various positions since that time, however about 4 years ago he really immersed himself in the brewing process again. While managing the Bioprocess Training Center (Eddyville) and the Regional Entrepreneurship Center (Ottumwa) for IHCC, Crabtree also taught beer classes in the evenings. The opportunity at Mahaska arose while Crabtree was working to open his own brewery and he says “I am looking forward to making beer on a larger scale and to watching people enjoy a beverage that I have so purposefully crafted.”

Craft beer is a growing industry, holding a whopping 22% share of the beer market. When asked about the craft beer industry, Crabtree says “The craft beer industry is an interesting mix of rebels, purists, and aficionados. They will all have different takes on the craft beer craze, what it is and who it is, but I see it as a part of the wider movement across this country toward local production, accountability and identity.” Crabtree also went on to say he feels “that local production and the novelty of consuming beer that is made in your hometown is a motivator for some to drink craft beer.”

This seems to be in line with what the Mahaska CEO, Branden Muhl, has to say about embarking on this new business venture. Muhl says “Mahaska has a long tradition of innovation & leadership in the non-alcoholic beverage industry dating back to 1889 that was initially based on success in the craft soda industry with Chief Mahaska flavors. These craft roots were at the core of Mahaska’s business and culture before our transformation into a modern carbonated soft drink bottler.” Muhl also says “Mahaska had a unique opportunity to advance our own business development priorities & growth plans while also supporting a visionary and unique entrepreneur in Chuck Crabtree on his quest to turn his dreams into reality. We’re very excited about how our local opportunity has aligned perfectly with a burgeoning regional & national opportunity to bring us to the precipice of launching this exciting new enterprise.”

The craft brews will be available in 16 oz cans, which are trending in the craft beer industry. Crabtree says there are several factors that lead to this, but the most prominent is the better quality of product created when canned. The product maintains its freshness for longer, as well as being more portable than a glass bottle. Chad Irving, Chief Marketing Officer of Mahaska, says “In the very early stages of our planning and conversations with Chuck, quality stuck out as the most important thing about our beer from the beginning, even if we have to produce at a slower pace than we would like. At first bottles were the ‘go to’ package that we all considered, but more extensive research, combined with our long history of canning, led us to cans as the best solution to maintain the highest possible quality product for our customers who want to enjoy our beer anywhere. I can hardly wait to unveil our cans to Oskaloosa, and pour our first beer here where “Mahaska” all began over 125 years ago.”

The brewery itself will focus on ales, with a few lager offerings. Crabtree describes their beers as “malt forward”, meaning the beers will highlight their malt characteristics, rather than the hops. The brewery, which is adjacent to Mahaska, will have a Tap Room open evenings and weekends, as well as available for special events and meetings. The Tap Room will have all the

the brewery’s current offerings and overlooks the brewery itself, which gives any guests the chance to really feel like they are part of the brewing process. Crabtree says they will be producing this summer and you should expect to see their beer in grocery stores and on tap by midsummer. The brewery plans to announce it’s name closer to the beginning of their distribution and Crabtree says to “hang tight and expect the unexpected.”

Posted by on Apr 22 2016. Filed under Local Businesses, Local News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Responses are currently closed, but you can trackback from your own site.

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