The bar is taking shape, the windows and lights are installed and the excitement in the air is palpable.
While the new Textile Brewing Company isn’t quite ready for its grand opening, it is inching toward the cusp of something that is sure to transform Dyersville’s downtown.
“I walked into this building about a year-and-a-half ago and fell in love,” proprietor Carol Olberding said while giving the Dyersville Commercial a tour. “This project has been incredible — blessings abound and gifts galore with the most amazing people working on it. My best guess (for the opening) has always been June, but now here we are. All I have to say is June 30 is still June.”
Without a firm date nailed down, Olberding is still optimistic the opening is right around the corner.
Olberding said about 10-or-so times a week she’ll see a curious onlooker with their nose pressed against the glass, and she always gives them tours of a building that has become the recipient of her personal affection.
It’s commonplace to fondly name to a car, boat or baseball bat, but in Olberding’s case, her anthropomorphization is geared toward a building that served as a sewing factory from 1910 until 2017.
Mildred, she said, is a sweet old lady who’s found a tender place in her heart over the course of this new undertaking.
A renovation effort for the area behind Furniture Land has long been in the wings for the City of Dyersville, but it was lacking a catalyst to tie the project together — but that’s how Textile Brewing came into focus, even if it wasn’t exactly Olberding’s original plan.
“I had an art studio on main street next to the barber shop — next to Howard (Rettenmeier) and Julie English,” she said. “I was telling (English) that I wanted to open a brewery and she was telling me about this place. And when I walked in, it was all over — I had moved in emotionally.”
She planned on buying the sewing factory on her own and installing an art studio in the front and unloading her husband’s brewing equipment in the back.
But after some discussion, they pivoted to a full-scale brewery.
Following the decision, they received a $100,000 grant from the State of Iowa to restore the building, secured with the backing of both the Dyersville Economic Development Corporation (DEDC) and the City of Dyersville.
“People looked at me like I was crazy a year ago when I said I was going to do this,” she said. “There were a million reasons why I shouldn’t have done this, but I’ve never been more confident about anything. It took a little bit of convincing for my husband, but he’s definitely my partner in crime in all of it. Now he’s all in and can’t wait to get down here to brew.”
But for Textile Brewing, the beer is only going to be a one of the puzzle pieces that draws patrons to the building.
Joking that she has plans to transform into Judy Weber sometime within the next 20 years, the two are soon going to be sharing more than a mutual soul and love for all things Dyersville.
Partnering with Weber at the Dyersville Historical Society, Olberding has spent hours upon hours researching the building’s history and she already has areas chalked out for hanging shadow boxes that will contain historical Dyersville artifacts.
“(Judy Weber) has so much stuff that she doesn’t have room to display it all,” she said. “Judy and I joke around that we’re twins.”
And in a move that will likely get a loving nod of approval from Weber, nearly every element to Textile Brewing has been salvaged from treasures left in the building after the sale.
“I’ve saved everything, even the elevator that tried to kill me — we saved the parts,” she said. “And when I say I have everything that was in this building, I mean that I have all of it in my house right now — I can’t wait to have my garage back.”
Old radiators have become legs for bar tables, jars of miscellaneous sewing machine parts have become decorations and other old rusty trinkets will remain old rusty trinkets.
“Even our flight boards are the old Singer sewing machine drawers,” she said.
As the tap room becomes another de-facto museum for the community, the beer isn’t anything at which to scoff.
“The thing I’m most excited about, and regular Joe won’t realize how cool this is, but we’re going to glycol cool our beer all the way to the tap,” she said. “It cuts down on foam and waste, we’re just going to have awesome, cold, fresh beer.”
The basement contains their five-barrel Blichmann system, a yeast lab, big boilers and just about every other piece of equipment a beer-nerd would salivate over.
The business itself is a direct reflection of the Olberding’s marriage — a fusion between the left and right brain, the artist and the engineer, the painter and the architect.
Olberding’s highly educated husband, Tom, is part-pharmacist, part-chemist, part horticulturist and all about brewing beer.
“He’s an organic chemist. So I’m basically building a chemistry lab in a vintage sewing factory,” she said. “I’m the art part of the business and my husband is the science.”
The couple is also dedicated to keeping everything they can local, including ingredients.
“And I’m going to grow hops everywhere,” she said, motioning to the beer garden’s black iron gate furnishings. “By August, it’s just going to be fragrant.”
And not too long ago, the State of Iowa allowed businesses like Textile Brewing to distill wine and spirits with their license, but that’s a bridge to cross later. In the meantime, there are catering custom suds to customers, even the ones who aren’t connoisseurs.
“The things that people don’t like in beer, my brewer works really hard to get rid of those kinds of things — the bitterness that lingers or overwhelms at the end. We work really hard on making clean beer,” she said.
Textile did a sampling at Strawberry Point during the winter, followed by a sampling at Brew & Brew for a library fundraiser.
“I went through about seven gallons of beer that night,” she said. “We were originally just going to give away samples but everyone ended up hanging around.”
Their red Irish ale, Snuggy, has arguably been everyone’s favorite, but they have another ale they’ve made especially for the citizens of Dyersville, who like light beer.
“It’s called TrALEblazer,” she said. “But we’re going to sell that same beer under the name of Bobcat Beer, after Western Dubuque. Every month there will be a competition to see which sells more and we’ll give 10% of the profits to that school.”
Next school year, she plans on asking art teachers from each school to create a logo.
Olberding has no shortage of visions for the establishment, and is already opening the doors to other local businesses to share in the adventure.
They are partnering with Oh So Good Winery and any other local wine makers that want to be a part of the project.
“We’re trying to stay all-Iowa,” she said. “We want to try to make all 20 taps and everything we serve either all local or all Iowa.”
Before prohibition, there were eight breweries in Dyersville, so she has no worries about sustainability.
And Olberding says yes, there will be food — including a revival of the English Pub’s pizza.
“It’s going to be pizza, big, big pretzels with beer cheese, chocolate chip cookies with ice cream — anything I can bake — and cheese curds. And a self-serve popcorn machine,” she said. “It’s going to be very simple, but we’re going to have food.”
In addition, she plans on collaborating with Brew & Brew for more elaborate menu items.
“We have lots of plans for fancier food,” she added.
Olberding has no qualms about sharing the success with others, because she said she knows this project wouldn’t have gotten off the ground were it not for the tremendous support she’s received.
“This whole project was created by the community — I can’t even tell you how true that statement is. From the grant to the city — everyone is busting their butt,” she said. Even Alliant Energy is running at full tilt to get everything done and put underground.
Olberding said their tap room will be family-friendly, and as an art teacher, she already knows there is going to be a kid’s table with art supplies.
“I’m from the Netherlands — I lived in Europe until I was 16 and I’m never leaving Dyersville,” she said. “It would be a joy to help build this community and be a really cool place people want to hang out and bring their kids downtown.”