Restaurant of the Week: Kalona Brewing Company

Kalona Brewing Company is located in the heart of the main street district in the small town of Kalona, less than a half hour drive from Iowa City. Opened in 2012, this modern micro-brewery creates over 24 different beers (including micro-batch brews), with 20 brews on tap. This venture initially started as just a brewery, but the town of Kalona also wanted a restaurant; thus, Kalona Brewing Company as we know it was born.

This casual and cozy environment is very inviting and relaxing from the moment you step foot in the door. The staff is friendly and knowledge when it comes to the beers and food. You will see reclaimed barn wood on the ceilings and exposed cinder blocks on the walls. The building was previously used for tractor sales and is a historic building, which has a lot of meaning and sense of community for the town of Kalona. There are several seating options to choose from, including the bar, lounge area, dining room, along with a patio to enjoy in the warmer months. The kitchen is an open concept, which allows guests to watch the action take place. Near the lounge area is a nice view of the fermenters and brewery portion of the restaurant.

The most popular item on the menu is the cheese curds and onion rings appetizer. These are both fried to a perfect golden brow and have a nice crunch while being very light on the breading. The cheese curds are very soft and almost melt in your mouth. This starter is served with a side of marinara and house-made ranch. Another fan-favorite appetizer is the gremolata burrata. This has a unique spin on a traditional burrata, as it includes the gremolata and not pesto. The creamy and soft burrata cheese is served on top of the gremolata, dates and apricots and drizzled with balsamic reduction, with crostini on the side. This appetizer is savory, which complements the sweetness of the dates and apricots nicely. The presentation is absolutely beautiful and a light dish to start your meal.

All of the pizzas are exceptional and made with an in-house pizza oven. The pear and goat cheese pizza offers one of the most unique combinations but also one of the most delicious. The thin, wood-fired crust holds a pesto sauce, red onion, tomato, goat cheese, light mozzarella, pears and balsamic reduction. The goat cheese has a tangy element, while the balsamic and tomatoes add an acidic flavor. The pear adds a crunch and sweetness, which makes this pizza light and very flavorful.

The coffee-chili pork entrée is an upscale take on a classic “meat and potato” midwestern dish. The pork is served medium and is exceptionally tender, with a coffee-and-chili spice rub all around the meat, which is seasoned impeccably. The pork has a delightful presentation and sits on top of mashed sweet potatoes, asparagus and a grilled pineapple.

Kalona Brewing Company is a destination spot that gives you a charming feel of small town Iowa. Besides its phenomenal beers and eats, Kalona Brewing Company also has trivia nights and live music for guests to enjoy. It’s important to note that Kalona Brewing Company partners with the local creamy to source its cheese, along with a local farmer family to get all of its beef, which is all grass-fed. The pizza crust and sauce is also all made in-house, and the restaurant gives it spent grains to Amish farmers for their farming needs. As you can see, this is more than a restaurant and brewery; this establishment is an integral part of the Kalona community.

The restaurant is open Wednesday and Thursday, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Sunday brunch, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and lunch and dinner, 2 to 8 p.m. Kalona is closed Monday and Tuesday. For more information on Kalona Brewing Company, visit www.kalonabrewing.com

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