Coralville eyes zoning for breweries

BY LUKE VOELZ | APRIL 25, 2011 7:20 AM

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Generation Y wants better beer, and Coralville wants to be in on the action.

On Tuesday, the Coralville City Council will hold a public hearing to discuss granting breweries special-exception use permits in commercial districts. City Administrator Kelly Hayworth said several breweries have contacted the city about building in the area over the last two years, yet city code did not include anything about zoning breweries.

The Iowa River Landing District, which the city is renovating, is a prime target for the breweries, he said.

"I think it's just the location, and it's also becoming more popular across country to have microbreweries," Hayworth said, though was unsure about what caused the sudden popularity.

Coralville Mayor Jim Fausett echoed Hayworth's support.

"We don't have anything like [breweries] to date," he said. "So I think in the Iowa River Landing District, with the type of development we're looking at, this probably would fit in."

Darius Gilanfar, the chief operating officer of the Granite City Food and Brewery Chain, said the popularity of small local breweries can be attributed to the new generation.

The 44-year-old, whose company runs Granite City restaurants throughout the Midwest, said he's seen an increase in handcrafted beers over the last four years. These beers are produced at local microbreweries and tend to have many more flavors than domestic or imported beers. This, he said, attracts a generation obsessed with customization.

"It's kind of like coffee. Most people know exactly how they like their coffee: heavy roast, light roast, or European," he said. "If you take a look at [this generation], they like to customize, whether it's their clothing selection or how they order online. Beers are just like that. Many choices, many kinds of beers you can customize to your liking."

That generation will get their beer-flavor fill in Coralville if the city passes the ordinance, which would allow retail or wholesale breweries producing more than 650 gallons of beer per day to build in commercial districts as long as they sold to the public.

Local brewery entrepreneurs said they're not concerned about competing, because local microbreweries tend to attract beer enthusiasts who go on "brewery tours," visiting several shops in the same day.

"[There is] a little bit of competition, but [more breweries can be] a little helpful," said Andy Joynt, who moved from Colorado to open up Joynt Brewing in Iowa City. "It can become a destination thing for the city where people come visit. If there are several [breweries], it makes trip more worthwhile if you're driving from Cedar Rapids or anywhere else."

The 30-year-old said he came to Iowa after seeing microbreweries' success in his hometown of Fort Collins, and he wanted to set up shop where the brewery market was growing as opposed to saturated.

Local breweries also stick together, he said, to raise funding in the face of competition from large brewery corporations.

"There's not a huge marketing front for small breweries," he said. "Huge breweries throw a lot of money letting people know about their brand, but small breweries don't have money to advertise. It's more word of mouth."

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