Battle of the Brushes 2018

Last weekend, Island City had the honor of hosting Battle of the brushes, a live painting auction where all the proceeds went to the Women’s Resource Center. There were 20 local artists who competed in three rounds which resulted in Gale Berndt being named the winner!


Gale said she has enjoyed painting since she was a little girl, and decided to join battle of the brushes because of the cause it was supporting. Gale believes that we can all use our talents to benefit each other in someway, you just have to get creative!


The WRC is a local nonprofit that serves the community through advocacy, protection and education, according to the director, Dianna Miller.  The WRC functions to create a reality which recognizes the value and equality of women in all aspects of life, including economic independence, freedom from violence, and equal access to and power in the political process." When the WRC was established in 1978, there were no services for women who wanted to protect themselves and their children from a violent spouse and father, or for women who had been sexually assaulted. These were issues that just were not brought up in "polite conversation," and few if any professionals in the criminal justice or health care systems had any knowledge of, training for, or, often, sensitivity to the needs of these women. Typically, these women were also burdened with the stigma of having somehow brought these troubles on themselves, through their own behavior, or, alternatively, with the silence imposed on them by social norms regarding sexual assault and domestic violence.

The money raised at battle of the brushes goes directly to the Women’s Recourse Center as well as the artists that participated. We couldn't have done this event without help from the Minnesota Marine Art MuseumGreat River Shakespeare FestivalBlue Heron Coffeehouse and support from our amazing community!



History of IPA'S

So you love IPAs — join the club. The IPA has become the dominant form of craft beer in America, and increasingly, throughout the world. When you visit Island City Brewing Company, it’s obvious that our menu is not short of IPA’s. ranging from our two imperials (double IPAs), to our hazy and blood orange, there is a brew for everyone on the IPA spectrum.

But what IS an IPA? Where did they come from, and what makes them different from the Bud Light you see everywhere at your local liquor store?

IPA stands for India Pale Ale. As we’ll see in a moment, India played an important role in the creation of IPAs. It’s not the country that invented the brew though.

IPAs were allegedly invented by the British during their efforts to colonize India. Again and again, the beer they sent their troops failed to endure the sea voyage all the way around the cape of Africa. Extreme temperatures and prolonged storage without the benefits of refrigeration were less than ideal conditions for transporting beer. As a result, it kept spoiling on the trip. The British had two tools to work with: alcohol and hops. Both of these work as preservatives. According to legend, it was George Hodgson of East London’s Bow Brewery who eventually created the first IPA. It was bitter and highly alcoholic, but it could make the long ocean trip.

Breweries eventually sprung up in more locations. Refrigeration was invented. The original hurdles IPAs were created to clear were no longer an issue. IPAs have continued to stick around and have even gathered their own pack of diehard fans.

IPAs from the first era were characterized by two things: extreme bitterness and heavy, sweet malt bases (thick, cakey) that sort of acted as a balance. This inspired a kind of arms race on bitterness amongst brewers which appealed to a very specific crowd. Brewers themselves loved IPAs and began experimenting enthusiastically with hops.

Phase two arrived when breweries began to realize that hops could also contribute flavor and aroma. They keyed off hop bitterness, but discovered that hops could contribute heavy aromas and distinctive flavors like citrus and pine. They were still very loud and brassy beers, but they were made with an attuned sense of harmony.

The third and current era was when breweries began to develop techniques that fully unlocked hops' flavor and aroma potential. This is when the IPA category blossomed into red, white, black, Belgian, session, Double, New England style, fruit IPAs, and even India pale lagers. When we think of IPAs, we're mainly thinking of these modern styles.

At Island City Brewing Company, we have carefully crafted a variety of IPAs with our own unique twist. Currently we have 4 deliciously different imperial pale ales to appeal to the masses. Head on over to our taproom to try them all!

Skipping Stone Saison

Skipping Stone Saison

Our Skipping Stone Saison is one of my favorite beers that we make. It has a beautiful hazy golden color that reminds me of the last golden leaves on the fall trees. It has a refreshing slightly peppery citrus aroma. Like early version of the Saison we used what might be on hand at the end of a harvest, pale two row barley, malted wheat, and oats make up a majority of the grain bill. We lightly hopped this beer with Czech Saaz. The flavor has light notes of citrus and pepper with a dry crisp finish. Skipping Stone Saison is sure to go fast.

Indoor Picnics at Island City!

The weather outside may not be perfect for an outdoor picnic, but come down to Island City Brewing Company for a welcoming place for an indoor picnic. Whether you and your friends decide to order some food for delivery or bring in your own picnic basket full of goodies, Island City Brewing Company is dedicated to being a gathering place for family, friends, neighbors in our community, and picnics!


Meet the Staff: Dustin


Meet Dustin! One of our original team members, Dustin’s position at Island City Brewing Company is the lead packager. 

Dustin prides himself for having two jobs that involve making, serving, and talking about craft beer. He enjoys exploring the woods and foraging for wild edibles like morels and asparagus. He also is passionate about going to see local artists and musicians as much as he can!

What’s your favorite thing about beer Dustin?
“Favorite thing about beer would be the small precise (though not always) changes that can be made during the brew process that can make great big changes in all aspects from taste to color. Brewing is cool.” -Dustin

Stop in to Island City Brewing Company to say hi to Dustin! 

Christmas Orange

A couple of weeks ago Colton asked me to write a blog post for the holidays. I jumped at the chance. I sat down with some eggnog, put on some carols, and just stared at a blank computer screen. I had nothing. The truth was I wasn’t feeling in the holiday spirit. Some time passed and the blank screen stayed. Then one morning I woke up to snow on the ground and in the air. This was it. This is what I have been missing, now I can write. I popped on some music, sat down at the computer, and nothing came to me.

With a cloud hanging over my head and a blank screen on my laptop, I headed over to a buddy’s garage for a fierce night of ping-pong and beers. As I was headed back home after a win-less night but with raised spirits, I remembered a story my Grandpa had told me.

It was 1926 in Wales. On the dead end of a street there was a dirt-floored house where an Irish family lived. The oldest boy in that house was my grandfather. He was 10 years old, and like any 10-year-old the Christmas season was filling him with hope and desire. He also was a product of his upbringing, he knew there would be no presents under a tree for him, and no stocking filled with candies. His father was struggling to find much in the way of work since the castle construction had finished the year before. Nonetheless, he was still happy to see the festive mood in the air on his daily runs to find peat or coal to heat their home. Now awakening on Christmas morning with his three sisters, he wouldn’t have guessed that the day was going to end up being one of the most memorable experiences of his life. On this cold December morning, there was a knock at the door. Outside was the Salvation Army asking for all the children in the household. His sisters and him huddled around the front door as wondering what was going on. Then catching them completely off guard the Salvation Army gave them each a very special present. An orange.

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Just a simple orange, but to 10-year-old boy who lived in a dirt-floored house in a poor immigrant section of Cardiff, it was the most beautiful thing he had ever seen. The color of it lit up his life. It raised his heart to the heavens. An orange was a luxury item in his house. He had seen them but he had never eaten one. Now here in his hands he held his own orange. He treasured that orange and didn’t start eating until much later in the day. He simply sat and looked at this glowing object in his house. He of course eventually ate the orange savoring every bite of it. He would always tell us that there wasn’t a happier child in the whole of Wales that Christmas.

80 years after that Christmas he was still telling the story of the best Christmas present he ever received. 80 years later the actions of a stranger on a dead-end street in Cardiff, still made his eyes twinkle and brought a smile to his face.

Thinking back on his story did it for me. I knew that I wanted to share that story with all of you. Here’s hoping that this holiday season you find your own orange and give away a few as well.

Happy Holidays everyone, be joyous, be safe, and be a little more filled with wonder this season. I will leave you all with one of the greatest Christmas songs of all time hoping it might put you in the seasonal mood.

- Dan Murphy

Island City Brewing Update

Well, hey there Island City Brewing followers! We are grateful to hear that so many people are excited about the coming beer business. We are excited, too. And things are coming along! Our brewery and taproom are at about 95% completion here in downtown Winona.

We are unfortunately still hung up in the muck and mire of the licensing process at the federal level. Because of this unexpected delay, it looks like we will not be making our hoped-for fall opening. However, we are hopeful that we will soon move through the red tape, and will be firing up the brew-house. It’s coming soon!

We’re going to begin providing more detailed updates as things accelerate here. In spite of the delay, we could not be more thrilled to add to Winona’s storied brew-history. We’ve got some great beers and house-made sodas in the works, and look forward to sharing them with you all as soon as we can. In the meantime, you can support our progress by grabbing yourself a hat or t-shirt at our online store.

You can also check out this video of Tommy and Colton talking about Island City Brewing Company:

ICBC’s “First Four”

After a great deal of deliberation and drinking, Island City Brewing Company has decided on its “First Four” beers to be released.

The “First Four” beers include a Common, IPA, Berliner Weisse, and a Sour Mash Rye Red. Each beer of the “First Four” will receive its own special blog post in the future. In addition to the “First Four” there will be two seasonals on tap that will rotate with the seasons and whims of the production staff and patron opinions. There will also be a non-alcoholic soda line and a dedicated nitro line. The nitro line will likely be a coming attraction.

We look forward to you trying all the beers we are initially offering, and hope that at least one of the “First Four” beers will become a distinguishable drinking companion for years to come.

- Tommy Rodengen

A Special Guest

Friday morning brought a couple changes to our river town: the colder winds called for us all to break out our finest flannels, and the arrival of the grande dame of the river, the American Queen. Both of these changes are cause for excitement, but for the time being I am going to focus on the Queen.

Now, at our brewery, we don’t normally take the time to venture through Levee park as often as we should. However the lure of a six story floating hotel, that looks like it came straight from the pages of ‘Life on the Mississippi’ was too much for us to resist. Like a group of kids on a field trip, we oohed and aahed as we walked along her side, marveling at her glory.  As we watched the passengers disembark to explore our community, I felt a connection to them.  

See, I have recently moved to Winona. And while my days are spent trying to hurry along our construction process to get you all the best beer possible, my time has also been spent getting to know my new town. From trying my first Bloedow’s donut, to swimming in the river, I’m trying to experience as much of the area as I can. I know there will be time, but like the Queen’s guests, I can’t help but be excited about being here.

On Friday afternoon the American Queen slipped her moorings, and headed back downstream to her next port of call. So while the passengers of the Queen are now off exploring a new community, I get to stay in Winona and become a part of one.  While she keeps moving down the river like a beautiful dream, I’m sticking around to deepen my roots in my new home.

Dan Murphy
Taproom Manager