Beer enthusiasts are enjoying one of the new attractions at this year’s Iowa State Fair.
The Iowa Craft Beer Tent features 13 breweries from around the state and 36 different beers on tap. Scott Carlson, who co-owns the Court Avenue Brewery in Des Moines, helped set up the tent on the fairgrounds.
“It’s been a long time coming for Iowa to actually have the state’s breweries represented at the State Fair,” Carlson said. The Iowa Craft Beer Tent is located a short distance from the Iowa Wine Tasting tent. Carlson credits a change in Iowa law a couple years ago for the boom in new breweries in the state.
The law adjustment allowed Iowa beer makers to begin brewing varieties with higher alcohol content. Carlson says that gave Iowa breweries the ability to better compete on the national level.
“When we had to be under five or six percent (alcohol content), we could only make about a third of the styles across the country. Now we can make almost all (the beer styles),” Carlson said.
“So, all of the sudden, folks that were into brewing and wanted to compete across borders can now compete with Illinois, Wisconsin, Michigan, Nebraska, Missouri and the rest of the country.”
Each of the 13 Iowa breweries featured in the Iowa Craft Beer Tent brought several different styles of beer. Carlson says fairgoers can test everything from lighter drafts to beers with “very high” alcohol content. “So if somebody is a brand new craft beer drinker, they’ll be able to try a beer that may be palatable to them for the very first time,” Carlson said.
“We have some malty beers, some very hoppy beers, some lower alcohol beers and some higher alcohol beers. So, when that fairgoer comes, they can really get an idea of what we have to offer.” There are a couple options for fairgoers who make a beer purchase at the Iowa Craft Beer Tent and both cost $7.
Those options involve one 16 ounce beer or a five ounce cup that can be used to sample three different varieties of beer. There’s also Iowa brewed root beer for sale. Brewery representatives are presenting seminars in the tent at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. each day during the fair. Musical acts from Iowa are also featured nightly on the Iowa Craft Beer Tent stage.