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Toppling Goliath Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Toppling Goliath Brewing CompanyToppling Goliath Brewing Company
Based on:
44 Beers
14,602 Hads
Place Score: 95
Reviews: 42
Visits: 234
Avg: 4.32
pDev: n/a
Taps: 8
Bottles: --
Cask: N
Beer-to-Go: Y
[ Brewery, Bar ]

310 College Dr
Decorah, Iowa, 52101-1336
United States
phone: (563) 387-6700

visit their websiteWebsite view map and get directionsMap @tgbrews

Place added by: emerge077 on 07-15-2010

No notes at this time.
Place: Reviews & Ratings
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
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Reviews: 42 | Visits: 234
Photo of medbadger
4.75/5  rDev +10%
vibe: 3 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5

I love this beer. I want to make friends with the people that work there so we can play cards on the weekend and drink this beer. My wife and I have date nights and every time I get to pick the place I head down the road to TG brews.

To be honest the place is just alright. Nothing special about it, kinda looks like it is in a old pizza hut building. There is always a few people sitting at the bar having some beer. But what is lacks in sexiness it more than makes up for in quality and service. Great people and great beer, that's what a brewery should be about.

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Photo of Strike00
4.33/5  rDev +0.2%
vibe: 4.25 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.25 | selection: 4.25

Great atmosphere and great beer. Really busy and the tap room was on the smaller side, but the service was still pretty good. Can't wait to get up there again.

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Photo of amano_h
4.53/5  rDev +4.9%
vibe: 4 | quality: 5 | service: 4.25 | selection: 4.5

Toppling Goliath is an enigma of its own.

With a name like "Toppling Goliath," you would automatically assume that they are like pubescent young men dressed presumably in pre-1 AD Jewish attire, equipped with a slingshot mighty enough to take down the biggest and the most infamous villains of biblical scale -- yet they are far from what their name wants to suggest. You cannot profess yourself to be a beer geek without having tried PseudoSue, the legendary Citra Pale Ale. You also cannot profess yourself to be a regular on the RateBeer forums without having ISO'd KingSue, PseudoSue's more limited yet superior cousin, or one of their many other outstanding hoppy offerings like Sosus (Mosaic), GoldenNugget (Golden Promise Malt + Nugget Hops), Zeelander (Nelson Sauvin), LightSpeed, so on and so forth. You also absolutely cannot profess yourself to be a regular trader on BeerAdvocate without having once offered almost half your beer stash for a single bottle of Kentucky Brunch Brand Stout, or its non-Barrel Aged cousin, Mornin' Delight.

If the above beer geekery didn't make any sense, just know that Toppling Goliath has put the little drive-by town of Decorah, IA on the map for many many beer enthusiasts -- to the point where there is now inter-state interest on taking vacations to Iowa. Iowa, of all places.

Sorry, didn't mean to go full-on fanboy there, but my point being, that unlike what their name might suggest, TG is a pretty huge deal in the craft beer scene. Unlike their huge deal-ness, however, TG is incredibly humble about their success and it really shows.

Since its opening, Toppling Goliath has situated itself atop the same hill at the edge of College Drive. Other than the fact that they have now moved most of their production to a production brewery somewhere down the road, nothing about the brewery has evidently changed; their interior looks like a converted pizza joint or one of those "we cook everything from burgers to spaghetti stores," and still only sits a limited amount of people despite their huge success. Unlike some of the more high-profile breweries with which TG shares fame, there are no frantic employees scrambling to serve people and get them in and out as soon as possible, but just honest, welcoming, hard-working people, trying to spread the fruit of their labor; one of the employees was striking up a very heated debate about beer with one of the patrons, which ended with the patron exchanging phone numbers with the employee with promises of trading beer in the future.

Anyway the point being, Toppling Goliath COULD be that one brewery/brewpub that has grown too big for its britches and now has fans arguing over whether they're the best thing since sliced bread or whether their quality has fallen off -- but they're not. They COULD be that one brewery/brewpub that has gotten so big that they now own multiple restaurants and sell merchandise all across America -- but they're not. Instead, they're the same brewery that they were from the moment of their conception, churning out bottle after bottle of beer that's "good to the last drop," solely focused on providing nothing but the best they can offer without compromise -- and that's about all the fanboy you're going to get out of me today.

As aforementioned, TG's storefront is very limited between the serving area, the refrigerated storage area (where they sell bottles of their hoppy goodness) and the back area where they still do a portion of their brewing, so there is no kitchen; there is however, a gas station across the street, and a few restaurants that deliver to Toppling Goliath (whose menus are conveniently located by the side entrance)

Like most breweries, TG does have a rotating selection so check their website prior to visiting to steer away from too much disappointment (although I can say with about 99.99% confidence that they will always at least have PseudoSue on TAP) and you can also pick up TG paraphernalia like T-shirts, snifters, stickers, etc at the same place where you pick up your to-go bottles.

Oh and try the samplers. I definitely guarantee that they'll have more beers than you'll like.

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Photo of Rifugium
4.14/5  rDev -4.2%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4.25 | selection: 4.25

Long drive to get here from pretty much anywhere, but after all these years, I'm pretty much used to that kind of thing. The place is small, well-organized. The bar seats maybe 10 people, with several tables, and an outside area. The service was fine, and the two ladies I saw there seemed to know everything they needed to about the brewery and the beer. There is no food here, but you can ask for menus and order out from local places, one of which is within extremely easy walking distance...they will bring food to you, but it's so close I just put a coaster on my glass and picked it up myself. The crowd was small but diverse, from old people who didn't know what a growler was, to middle-aged ladies on a destination beer trip, to brosephs, and even a brewer from another brewery in MN.

The beer here is all pretty good. Nothing really wowed me. I've had a few like Assassin (and now KBBS and MD) and PseudoSue before, but it was nice to see the latter on tap, along with the likes of Dorothy, Golden Nugget, Morning Latte (a parti-gyled Mornin' Delight), and a few others. Lots of cool merch, and a few bottles for sale too: Dorothy, Rover Truck, Nugget, and something else. Sampler flights for the win!

I'm sure the largest crowds come out when the bottle releases happen, but I suppose making a trip to Decorah is worth it even if there isn't a release. I drove from Minneapolis, so it was about a 2.5 hour trek, and mostly easy-going. While in town, you might as well check out Pulpit Rock Brewing also, which is about a quarter mile down the road, so also easily within walking distance.

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Photo of DSWeller
4.66/5  rDev +7.9%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5

Excellent establishment that offers multiple world class beers in a small Iowan town. Staff is always friendly and the beer is even better. This is a must stop for any beer connoisseur that is in the relative area. Only challenging part is getting there in time for any moderate to rare beer release.

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Photo of Benjhilmer
4.48/5  rDev +3.7%
vibe: 3 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 4

What a strange place this is. I drove right past it on my first approach. It's very unassuming; you'd never know they make some of the world's best beer here. When I arrived, they were showing the Indiana High School Softball Tournament on TV; they don't even televise that in Indiana! Bizarre. I visited later in the day, so not everything was available. Still, I got to enjoy some great beer on tap. Their brews are worth the stop no matter what.

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Photo of AnalogErik
4.59/5  rDev +6.2%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 4.75 | selection: 4

Finally made the pilgrimage this weekend to get some King Sue bottles to haul back home. Surprised to see how small it is, but its awesome, the two people working were awesome and helpful, and everyone seemed to be beer geeks. Had Nelson on tap still, but we got there late so there were some things off-tap already, which was a little disappointing.

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Photo of YodersBeerEmporium
4.86/5  rDev +12.5%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 4.5

Special events are EPIC!!! Everyday beer selection has really improved in the last few months as well. Most of the standard TG hops beers are on tap most of the time. Bombers usually available for purchase as well.

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Photo of ILMbrew
4.78/5  rDev +10.6%
vibe: 3.25 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5

If you find yourself in Iowa this is a must-do, no matter how far. It's situated in a small former pizza joint in the middle of small town Decorah but man is this a hidden gem. 10 beers on tap when we visited; yes pseudo Sue. We did two flights and a couple pints to cover everything and grabbed a few bottles on the way out; yes pseudo sue. It was a Monday afternoon so the place was pretty dead but mean was this some awesome beer. Seriously everything on tap is world class. You can't get the full experience without going. Pseudo Sue is great but so is everything else. You've got to check it out if you're anywhere in range.

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Photo of chrisjws
4.53/5  rDev +4.9%
vibe: 3 | quality: 4.75 | service: 5 | selection: 4.5

Nothing impressive about the location (middle of nowhere), the taproom (dinky as hell) or even the overall appearance of their offerings. Don't go there expecting to get a bunch of the top 250 checked off your list. Most of the ones they have on there are super limited.

With that said, appearances aren't everything. They just about always have Pseudo Sue on tap and it's a winner. It's cloudy as hell and served up in a frosted glass. It doesn't look special until you start drinking.

The beers here are all good. You don't get your name all over the 250 by making a handful of great beers. You get on there a lot by making tons of great beers and a few are good enough to enter into the upper echelon.

This was a long drive and I was skeptical. In the end it was worth it and there's no question. These guys are awesome people. They make amazing beer. Don't judge by appearances because you'll miss out. Hit this place if you can.

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Photo of BillRoth
4.4/5  rDev +1.9%
vibe: 4.25 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.25 | selection: 4.5

Stopped in on a Wednesday afternoon on my way to La Crosse. Very nice place. Lots of wood and natural light. Kind of part tasting room and part small bar. Lots of room and places to sit and chill besides sitting at the bar. Some table games and good music piped in. Place was pretty quiet, but still had a number of people and small groups stopping in for a few brews.
As hoped had my first PS on draft, and it was awesome. Had about 6 other TG beers on tap, and 2 guest taps. Todd the manager even pulled out a bomber of Pompeii that a few of us shared. Grabbed a few bottle of PS and Golden Nugget on the way out.
Great little place to stop and as expected the beer was just amazing.

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Photo of mothman
4.53/5  rDev +4.9%
vibe: 4 | quality: 5 | service: 4.25 | selection: 4.5

I like the brewery. It is pretty chill. Good service. Good beers. They provide free pretzels which in nice. Decent prices all around. I'll be back for more.

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Photo of KillerJigger
4.25/5  rDev -1.6%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.75 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4 | food: 3

Very small place with even smaller parking lot. The beer is out of this world but I'm wishing they will expand a bit. Bring your own food or order out and have it sent to TG not a problem so that is nice. If they had Assassin, Mornin Delight, and KBBS on tap always it would be near heaven. They do have a Furkin once a month which is an experimental IPA or what have to try. I personaly have had one that was out of this world and one that was OK. Call before you visit because they sell out quite often and its worth buying some to go so make sure they have some to sell. Cheers!

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Photo of cbutova
4.38/5  rDev +1.4%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.75 | service: 4.25 | selection: 4.25

Visited during an 8000-mile road trip over the summer. Stopped here after a very long day of driving and camped near the river in Decorah (a great spot!).

Clean and bright taproom with cheap flights and pints of extremely high quality beer. Yea not everything will be a BA Stout or hyped hop bomb but from what I had I found all the styles to be well-brewed and flavorful (Pale Ale, Golden Lager, Irish Red, IPA, Stout) That is by far the most important part. The to go selection was good and it seemed like they did reasonably priced growler fills of most beers. I did not expect even PseudoSue bottles to be in stock so that might have changed my experience.

Small tasting room overall but the quality of the brews makes up for it. When we were there it was not busy at all (maybe 10 other people) but I could see how it could become cramped. If you are in the area (within an hour or two) it is a no-brainer to visit TG if you are a huge beer fan or are into taprooms in general. Do not expect to be leaving with limited releases (although I'm sure people get lucky once in a while).

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Photo of nilesschmidt
4.8/5  rDev +11.1%

Great atmosphere and very friendly staff. Not much to say about the beer that hasnt been said; its phenomenal. Just wish they had some harder to get beers occasionally on tap, but then again the size just cant support that type of rush or volume. Hope to return again.

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Photo of MilwaukeeCrusher
4.5/5  rDev +4.2%

Judging on the brewery experience this isn't a perfect score. While their beers are world class the venue is quite small. I heard developments are in the works to address this. Onto the beer, did a sampler as as expected they were excellent, especially the IPAs and the base stout, none of the limited releases where available as expected. Place was congested, as this place struggles to keep up with demand. Perfect beer, less than perfect venue.

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Photo of PhishNoC
4.5/5  rDev +4.2%

Not a huge place. Several people were there enjoying the Iowa game, but we were still able to immediately sit down and have some of their great beer. When the game was over, the place cleared out pretty good. Definitely a staple for the locals in the town. Everyone was nice and the surrounding area was beautiful. The beers were great, samplers available or full pints. Select bottles available to go, growlers as well of course. Nice relaxed place and terrific beer.

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Photo of stouts4me
4.75/5  rDev +10%

If you have been here, then you already know: this place is awesome!! Agreed that the taproom is small,and that sometimes there is a lighter selection of beers, but they are having a tough time cranking these world-class beers out! We have never had a bad time at the taproom, maybe that's because we go with the intent of having a good time with whoever is working, and anyone else we can include in what we bring.

Can't wait 'til they get the releases out at the brewery, camping, beer, it will be great!

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Photo of jwjon1
3.34/5  rDev -22.7%
vibe: 2 | quality: 4 | service: 3.5 | selection: 3

Disclaimer: came into town the weekend of the Great Taste of the Midwest, so my experience was abnormal. But it was nevertheless my experience.

Flew into Minneapolis on a Saturday and made the three hour jaunt south, super excited to try many of the beers listed on the website as being on tap. It's a beautiful drive down through rolling Midwest country hills and Amish farms. Much of it two lane country roads with very slow drivers.

Planned to hit the brewery to grab a pint and some bottles, check into my hotel, and then walk back to the brewery for the real fun! Didn't really have any expectations of what the brewery/tasting room would be like, but certainly felt confused pulling into the parking lot. Was I at the right place? Looked more like a local Mexican restaurant than a tap room--it was just missing a fake palm tree out front. Walking into the tap room helped ease my confusion a bit--but still felt like I should see a tub of coronas in ice on the bar. They did an okay job with the renno but the soul of the place was still lacking. Underwhelmed, to say the least. But hey, the beer is the star here, right?

At least, I assume the beer is the star. On my one experience, it was not. I excitedly grabbed a seat at the bar and glanced up at the tap list. It's a chalkboard list, and there was a lot of eraser marks on it. 40% of the taps listed on-line were removed--most of them the "fun" taps that you won't see around town. The remaining taps were beers I later found were very common around town. I'll get to that in a bit.

I grabbed a sampler tray (four samples of the six total taps) and asked what bottles were available. None. Bummed on that account as I was hoping the brew shop would keep a regular stock. They do not. After finishing the sampler, made the decision to go to the hotel and forgo returning to the tap house. That in itself sucks: TG was the reason I came to Decorah. If not for a non-cancelable hotel room, I probably would have turned around and drove back. This was my one shot to get down here, and I was underwhelmed--especially as the website tap list set unmanageable expectations.

Fortunately, a number of bars in town carry TG kegs. Ironically, I was able to try a larger variety TG beers on a mini bar/restaurant crawl than I could at the tap room--everything in the tap room was seen about town, plus a couple extras. And, FWIW, the town was quaint and charming in its own right and the locals were quite friendly.

Net, I'd not return based on my experience. It wasn't worth the drive or hotel room. I totally understand wanting to bring great beer to a great beer fest--and would do the same thing myself. But IF I already had a reputation like TG for producing world class beers, I don't think I'd make the trade off of upsetting brewery customers for what is ultimately marketing. I'd only do it if I had enough product to go around. At least, I don't think I would--hard to say not being in TG's shoes!

Last (two) comment: maybe this is normal in the Midwest, but I was surprised to see pints being served at the taproom in chilled glasses. I've not met a fridge yet--even industrial--that doesn't have some type of smell (good, or bad). Why add an uncontrollable aroma component to the beer? And why shakers? There is so much aromatic expression in these beers just waiting to be released with the use of better glassware. Glassware does make a difference. Customers may complain--especially the mug club members (who, save for shot glasses, drink from the least expressive glassware on the planet), but once they are educated, they may never go back.

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Photo of jimmygord
4.97/5  rDev +15%
vibe: 4.75 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5

Amazing. I was lucky enough to have business in the area and worked a stop at TG into the itinerary. Pint of Pseudo Sue to start. Knocked my socks off. Got a flight of four brews, Dorothy, Zeelander, Golden Nugget, and Light Speed. Every one of them was superb. I especially liked the Zeelander and took a growler home with me. If they have bottles for carry out, you can't beat $6/bomber. The best bargain ever. You'd be paying $12 for anything comparable in a larger city. Decorah Iowa is part of the Driftless Region and has amazing state parks, plenty of hotels. Worth a weekend trip for sure.

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Photo of jverdo1
4.76/5  rDev +10.2%
vibe: 4.75 | quality: 5 | service: 4.75 | selection: 4.5

Can't really say anything bad about these guys besides the fact that they need to expand the foot-print faster. Always great hosts and the IPAs are second to none - keep up the good work my friends! Just make sure to setup the brewery release for next year...

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Photo of Mothergoose03
3.4/5  rDev -21.3%
vibe: 3.25 | quality: 3.5 | service: 3.25 | selection: 3.5

This was stop #40 for my wife and I on a 21-day pub-crawl from Michigan to N. CA and OR. We stopped in town for an overnight on our trip home specifically to try the beers to see what the hype was all about. This is a small place with an outdoor patio, which is where we decided to sit to drink our beer selections.

There were 12 beers on tap, so we ordered 8 that were divided between two sampler flights. The obvious beer to select was the Pseudo Sue, and we also chose a few others that have received some hype too. While all of the beers were very tasty, none lived up to the hype that caused us to have high expectations. Pseudo Sue had not been listed on the Facebook page as being on tap, so we were happy to see it was available since that one was the prime reason to detour on our trip home to come here. Maybe it was too fresh and should have been held back, but we didn’t feel that it met our expectations. (As an additional note: we had managed to get some Pseudo Sue in bottles in Des Moines in the early stage of our 21-day trip, and after we got home and opened some of that, we enjoyed Sue much more than what we had on tap. So that version of Sue did manage to live up to the hype.)

A few of the beers during our visit were given a C rating in our scoring mechanism, and a few were given a B rating to go along with a few that were in between those scores, but none of the beers was put into an exceptional category. Still, the beers were very tasty and we would make a trip back here if we are ever in the area.

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Photo of TboneRN
1/5  rDev -76.9%
vibe: 3 | quality: 4 | service: 2 | selection: 3

Toppling Goliath is in the small town of Decorrah Iowa... Which is basically Luther College (made famous by a Dave Mathews Concert in the 90's) and thats it. The brewery is small, the atmosphere leaves something to be desired. The bartending is pretty poor to put it nicley...again this is the case of a brewery having great beer but horrible customer service...I would almost call it an awkward brewery to visit...Lets hope for them their beer quality doesnt slip

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Photo of kguard
4.7/5  rDev +8.8%
vibe: 4.25 | quality: 5 | service: 4.75 | selection: 4.75 | food: 4

Visited on a Monday afternoon.
Only people in taproom. Unfortunately, Pseudo Sue was gone and no bottles were available.
But Millennium Falcon was brought over from the brewery while we were there. Phenomenal beer.
Would definitely go again. Parking lot sucks to leave though.
Really close to some of Decorah's best parks.

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Photo of arnold931
4/5  rDev -7.4%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4

I love their beer. Their tap room is like a Swiss cottage except it's in a small college town in NE Iowa. A nice scenic drive to get to Decorah. A few tee shirts and glassware selections available. They have some beers available that you can't find in bottles.

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Toppling Goliath Brewing Company in Decorah, IA
95 out of 100 based on 42 ratings.