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Old Capitol Brew Works and Public House

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very good

19 Ratings
Ratings: 19
Reviews: 18
rAvg: 3.8
pDev: 8.16%
Active Beers: 0
Beer Ratings: 0
Beer Avg: 0
Taps: 0
Bottles: 0
Cask: N
Beer-to-Go: N
[ Brewery, Bar, Eatery ]

525 S Gilbert St
Iowa City, Iowa, 52240-4919
United States
phone: (319) 337-3422

view map and get directionsMap 

No longer brewing onsite as of 2010. See Great River Brewery for 'house' beers -

(Place added by: bditty187)
Place: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 19 | Reviews: 18 | Display Reviews Only:
Reviews by benito:
Photo of benito
3.38/5  rDev -11.1%

An old, dingy college bar with lots of video games and wood paneling, an adjacent (nicer) dining room, and a brewery added as what (seems to be) an afterthought.

I visited earlier this month, just as the rains were starting to soak Iowa and flood the rivers. The Public House was a nice break from the rain; I ordered the sampler of their six house brews and was brought six 10-oz. pours. I asked the server if this was normal, and she said that it depended on the bartender. I had gotten lucky.

They had six house beers on tap: blonde, pale, Irish red, brown, stout, and coffee stout. The pale was passable and the coffee stout was delicious, but the other beers showed a range of flaws from diacetyl to total lack of hops and carbonation. I would happily go back and drink the coffee stout, try some new seasonals, and forget the other house beers.

The food was cheap and tasty--wings and the like that you would expect from a college-town bar. The crowd was young, fratty (at times), academic (at times), and low key. That said, I could see this place getting really rowdy during weekends.

It's worth a stop for that coffee stout if you're in Iowa City, but don't expect too much here.

benito, Jun 20, 2008
More User Reviews:
Photo of BillRoth
3.75/5  rDev -1.3%

BillRoth, Dec 12, 2013
Photo of tommyguz
3.28/5  rDev -13.7%

Review from 10/23/12
(as posted on my blog)

Old Capitol Brew Works is still in existence but they no longer brew there. They began in the old building in Iowa City as a brew pub in 2004. They used to brew in the building next door but then in 2008 they moved to Davenport Iowa and go under the name Great Rivers Brewery. I could not find out anything about if they changed the name after the move to Davenport or not. I should have asked when we were there. Sorry. However, the reason they moved is because they wanted to grow and also find a bigger market but more importantly they wanted to become a full time brewery and not brew pub. A Unique thing about Great River, which is becoming less and less unique among breweries, is that they only can their beer. As for Old Capitol the bar itself is a hole in the wall. It looks like your basic dive bar, except for the fact they have craft beer and tap new kegs every Thursday. It looks like a cool place to just go in and have a few beers and hang out. They also have a nice seating area outside. They do not have food except for freshly popped popcorn and frozen pizza.

tommyguz, May 08, 2013
Photo of rundocrun
3.73/5  rDev -1.8%

First of all, I love going to this place because it's not your typical college town bar. There are no hordes of sweaty, horny, drunk college students staggering about spilling beer all over. It's a very relaxed, chilled out atmosphere and the music is usually pretty good.

Another thing i really appreciate about this place is the local brew selection. There are always at least 6 different local or semi-local beers on tap and you can buy growlers whenever you like (even if they are clear glass growlers).

However, I could definitely stand for more selection. I won't always be in the mood for a local brew and sometimes they just don't have what I want on tap (or at all).

It also sucks that they don't brew on-site anymore, but I suppose if you have a business to run and you want your beer to reach more corners of the market, you have to expand...

rundocrun, Apr 10, 2011
Photo of bnietz
3.81/5  rDev +0.3%

The Old Capitol Brew Works is basically no more. While they are open for business, as of this writing the restaurant next door is closed. Also, the brew pub is also gone. The owners of the brew pub moved their operations to Davenport Iowa and that is where the beer is now from.

They had 5 or 6 beers on tap and the bartender was extremely friendly and offered us samples on the brews. I settled for the Red and it was OK, but nothing to get excited about. They also had a coffee stout that was probably their best beer. Something unusual- two different types of mexican beer.

Overall, I would say if you are in the area and plan on going to the Sanctuary, give it a try, but don't come hungry unless you want a frozen pizza.

bnietz, Jul 06, 2009
Photo of taylorhamrick
3.66/5  rDev -3.7%

This is just like your average bar. There were a couple of drunk guys there, who'd been around for quite a while already, and it was only 4:30 or so. There's a bit of outdoor seating, too. I liked the two beers I had - I was surprised to notice that they might have been as or more enjoyable than most of the beers I'd already had travelling around the midwest. The service was okay, just a girl behind the bar pouring pints. Not much conversation, average on friendliness. The selection was pretty good, probably very good for the area - there were 7 or so house beers, a few outside beers, but nothing special with those. I didn't try the food, there was a little pizza menu, nothing else that I could see. And the beer at happy hour is very cheap, $1 pints from 2-4, $2 4-6, and I think $3 6-8 on Mon-Thurs. So the earlier the better if you can make it. I'd recommend it if you want to try some indigenous Iowa beer.

taylorhamrick, Jun 25, 2009
Photo of jhammerly
3.33/5  rDev -12.4%

Stopped by here after a visit to John's Grocery. Parked in the back and came in through the patio area. Not too many people there on a Wednesday evening. We were told to sit where we liked, so we chose the dining area instead of the bar.

The building is old and is kept in decent condition. Some nice woodwork going on, but nothing extravagant. The place had an echo to it, so I can see this place getting pretty noisy when full. It's in Iowa City, home of Iowa U. I'm going to guess a lot of the clientèle are college students.

The waitress was nice and checked in on us. Everything was promptly served, though they were out of my first choice for food and second choice for beer. The food was good, nothing great. I had a Buffalo Chicken Wrap, which could have used some more chicken and sauce.

I tried the Stout and IPA. Both were good representations of their styles, but both were a bit watery in the finish. Still, nothing to deem them terrible.

An all right place to stop in every now and then. There's nothing classy about this place, yet it's not trashy. I like places like this some times; not too clean and not too dirty. It's a place to go and have some beers and a bite to eat.

jhammerly, Sep 02, 2008
Photo of scoobybrew
3.6/5  rDev -5.3%

Our homebrew club stopped in here for beers & lunch on a recent trip to Iowa City. The place had a fair amount of customers on that Saturday early afternoon. Even so, the service was good as was the beer. Overall, it's a nice little place that seems to be geared towards the college town crowd, which is encouraging to see the students patronizing a local brewpub. I can't say that this was the highlight of our trip, but it was definately worth the stop, especially to fill our stomachs will downing a few good pints.

scoobybrew, Mar 06, 2007
Photo of woodychandler
3.94/5  rDev +3.7%

This was really two places, but since their buildings were adjoining, they were one entity. Facing, the public house was on the left and the Brew Works was on the right.

I entered through the public house and the “L”-shaped wood bar was to the immediate right, with a bank of wooden booths along the left wall, extending back almost half of the length of the place. Further aft, on the left, were foosball and electronic darts with a pool table in the centerline, all of the way aft. Between the last booth and the foosball table was an arched skylight and a doorway onto their brick and concrete patio. The back bar was an extensive wood and mirror affair with a collection of vintage cans that threatened to encompass the entire circumference of the interior of the public house. Midway back, on the right-hand side, was a short set of steps leading up and over to the brewery. Beyond the steps were several high tables and chairs, followed by two video games and the washrooms all of the way aft.

On the Brew Works side, there was a wooden bar to the left, as I entered from the Public House, with two ceramic towers and the copper-jacketed brewhouse behind the back bar. The kitchen was along the far right wall, with a cabinet of growlers and logo items just in front of it. This side featured a wood floor with a bank of booth seating on either side and more booth seating in the center. The high cathedral windows and the muted lighting put me in mind of the Church Brew Works.

The beers were all quite good and I met and talked to both Paul Krutzfeldt, the brewmaster and his assistant, Adam Zwanziger. I was also given a tour of the conditioning room, which was down a set of winding stairs in the rear of the building. Interestingly, they issue electronic swipe cards to their Mug Club members, making it easy to track their progress towards rewards.

It was when I returned to my seat at the bar that things really took a turn for the bizarre. I realize that I am a somewhat famous personality in some circles, but I am often caught unawares by my infamy. My good friend, Jeff “Mad Dog” Ramadan, once said, “Woody may not know everybody in the Black and Gold Brigade [a Steelers fan club that we belong to], but everybody in the Brigade sure as hell knows Woody.” As I sat down, I heard, “Holy shit! It’s Woody! Hey, man, are you going to the Great Taste next month?” I turned and it was Pat McArtor, a fellow that I had met in Madison, Wisconsin the previous year. I assured him that I would, indeed, be there and then we hung out for a while before I shoved off to keep the Woody Him Forward tour moving forward.

woodychandler, Dec 03, 2006
Photo of bkanderson3
4.05/5  rDev +6.6%

I have visited this place often. On Thursday's they have a firkin cask conditioned ale. They range from extremely hoppy Pale Ales, sweet brown ales and season specialty ales. They have a wide range of house beers and some very good domestic and Belgian guest beers. On Friday's during the school year, they offer $0.50 12 oz house beers. This allows you to sample all of them if you like. They always have a seasonal beer on tap as well. I have tied all of their beers. They are not exceptional but given the liquor laws (5.5%vol max) in Iowa they do they best they can. I have not sensed any off flavors but some of the beers are lacking mouth feel. The food is great with a wide variety for tastes from simple pizza and burgers to NY Strip and fresh fish. The atmosphere is calm early with a Cheers type attitude and wild late with the college crowd moving in. Paul the head brewing is a great guy who supports other area craft brewers as well as the local homebrew clubs. This is a must visit if you are in the Iowa City area.

bkanderson3, Sep 20, 2006
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Old Capitol Brew Works and Public House in Iowa City, IA
87 out of 100 based on 19 ratings.