One of the more intriguing industries on the rise will be firmly represented in the coming weeks in Oskaloosa. The industry is craft beer, and the man with the plan is Chuck Crabtree.
Crabtree is the Head Brewer at the new facility being housed in Mahaska, the bottling plant in Oskaloosa. While the unnamed brewery and Mahaska share a location, they are separate entities owned by Branden Muhl.
“It’s being manufactured in the Mahaska bottling facility, but it’s a separate company,” said Crabtree.
Crabtree began this process looking to start his own brewery with the funding of investors. Mahaska was one of the early investors he approached.
“Southern Iowa needs more breweries,” according to Crabtree. “So I started looking around for investors for my own brewery… I came to Mahaska looking for an investor, and I made the pitch to Branden, the owner.
“He read my business plan, and after quite a bit of discussion, he basically said ‘We’re not really interested in investing in somebody else’s brewery, but we’ve been thinking about getting into the beer business for a long time. How would you like to come work for us as our head brewer?’ I said make me an offer. They did, and so here we are.
“I didn’t have the money to make it happen, so I was looking for investors. Branden and Mahaska didn’t have the expertise to make it happen, but they had the money, so we came together,” stated Crabtree.
Figuring out a location was the next big step for the actual brewery and a tap room for people to enjoy the crafted beer. After looking around the city of Oskaloosa, including near the square, Crabtree and ownership agreed that the location should be within the building at Mahaska.
“There was an original plan to try to make it so that we could something on the square,” said Crabtree. “So we would bring some our beer in tanks to the square to try to promote a little more economic development. In the end, that didn’t turn out to be financially feasible. It just didn’t work out, so the tap room will be [at Mahaska].”
The brewery and the tap room are still under construction but have come a long way in recent weeks. Crabtree is hopeful that there will be a full roll out by the end of the summer with all six of the original recipes that will be the backbone of the brewery’s offerings.
We will have weekly updates on the brewery, and we will feature different aspects of this unique venture taking place in Oskaloosa.