Iowa Craft Beer Tent first ever to sell alcohol on OT grounds

By Grace King, Mt. Pleasant News


The Iowa Craft Beer Tent is open for business at Midwest Old Threshers until Sunday from 5 to 11 p.m.

A debut appearance for alcohol being sold on the grounds, the decision was made in hopes of attracting a younger generation of visitors.

Kevin Hall, of Des Moines, employee with the Iowa Craft Beer Tent, takes the responsibility of being the first to sell beer on the grounds seriously.

?We do our best to have a professional, responsible environment,? Hall said, adding that the craft beer crowd is more interested in the enjoyment of the product.

The Iowa Craft Beer Tent has been traveling across Iowa for almost a decade, including having a presence at the Iowa State Fair and RAGBRAI. They sell largely Iowa products, supporting local breweries, including Jefferson County Ciderworks, out of Fairfield and Parkside Brewing, out of Burlington. The Iowa Craft Beer Tent has 12 beers on tap and one non-alcoholic root beer available.

Other workers with the Iowa Craft Beer Tent are largely volunteers. Volunteers like Kari Meartor and Christian Oetken, of Mt. Pleasant, agree the craft beer will draw more people of their generation to the grounds.

?We like our craft beers,? Oetken said.

Mike Alcoa, of Rockford, Ill., jokingly said he traveled 200 miles just for the craft beer. Alcoa, who was drinking a Crooked Street Cream Ale from Parkside Brewing, said as far as beer selection is concerned, taste in beer is like taste in color. One person?s favorite color might be green, and another person?s might be blue and there?s no rhyme or reason, he explained.

Charles Fisher, of Rockford, Ill., was less than impressed. ?I like Miller Lite myself,? Fisher said as he tasted his Michelob Ultra. ?The beer tastes fine, the glass size is fine, but the price is at least a dollar more than it should be.?

Joyce Soukup, of Central City, has been coming to Old Threshers on and off for over 20 years and was surprised, yet pleased by the beer tent. ?They look kind of good what they?ve got up there,? she said.

Her husband, Leon Soukup, who is on the board of the Linn County Fair, said when they first introduced beer to their fair he was initially against it.

?It hurts families to have drunks around, but it made money,? Leon said.

Linda Lane, of Hannibal, sipped the O.G. Apple Cider from Jefferson County Ciderworks. The cider, described as sweet, tart and crisp, also had one of the highest alcohol contents of the selections. ?Just means I only have to buy one,? Lane said.

This is Lane?s first time at Old Threshers. Although it wasn?t something she was initially interestedin , Lane finally relented after learning about the historical value of the Reunion. While as a newcomer she has heard talk of some people being against the beer tent and some for, she thinks it?s a good addition to a day of learning about steam engines and tractors.

?When you think about the reunion, you need to attract young people because we don?t know about threshing,? said Stacie Barton, of Mt. Pleasant.

?But we know about craft beer,? said Liz McLaughlin, of Mt. Pleasant, who was drinking a Ruthie from Exile Brewing.

Barton added that when people think about a social event, they also think about what they will socialize over. Craft beer is just makes sense.