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Beer is more than a beverage at Firetrucker Brewery


Firetrucker brings a little culture to the Ankeny community through music, art, food and great brews. From left to right: Scott Kaven, Neil Zaugg and Dan Heiderscheit.

Firetrucker brings a little culture to the Ankeny community through music, art, food and great brews. From left to right: Scott Kaven, Neil Zaugg and Dan Heiderscheit.

In case you have been living under a rock, craft beer is kind of a big deal right now. Breweries have been popping up all over the country, and Iowa hasn’t missed a beat in keeping up with the trend.

According to the Brewers Association website, Iowa has at least 40 craft breweries, almost double the number it had in 2011. Iowans love beer — especially unique specialty flavors that can only be found at a certain brewery.

A shared love for brewing is what started the new Firetrucker Brewery in Ankeny. Owners Neil Zaugg, Scott Kaven and Dan Heiderscheit celebrated the grand opening on the weekend of July 4, after talking about it for years. When they heard about the old firehouse there, they knew it would be the perfect location.

Though it’s only been open for two months, Firetrucker Brewery is already making its mark on the Iowa craft beer scene. It’s constantly adding new flavors to its rotation and hosting events and activities weekly.

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People came in droves to hear a lesson on brewing from Heiderscheit, the head brewmaster. And after 24 years at it, there’s no doubt he knows what he’s talking about.

“I just kept brewing over the years and extending the complexity of my brewing skills by moving into all-grain brewing from Extract and then working on making the same beer consistently,” he said, adding that he tests out all his new creations at home before bringing them into Firetrucker’s 20-BBL system.

The educational hour included a tour of the facilities, followed by music from the Britches and Hose Ukulele Club. It’s all part of the Firetrucker slogan: Beer is Art.

“We are trying to combine (brewing, music, visual arts and food) to make the statement “Beer is Art” a part of our culture,” Heiderscheit said. They offer a bit of everything, from live music and the new education segments to local food vendors and art shows.

Firetrucker has the right atmosphere for entertainment. Large steel barrels and fermenters line the wall behind the counter, and more can be seen behind glass windows on the next wall, but the seating area is clean and comfortable.

It’s a small area, but beer drinkers and music lovers alike are happy to share the space as they enjoy whatever Firetrucker has in store for them that day.

Outside there’s a large patio filled with picnic tables and Adirondack chairs for the ultimate kick-back-and-relax experience. Taking advantage of the fact that High Trestle Trail extends past the brewery, the patio gate doubles as one long bike rack. It’s common to see a half-dozen or more bicycles parked there as riders take a break from the trail to enjoy the new Cat in a Tree Ginger and 2 Alarm Red flavors.

The 2 Alarm Red and Pumper Truck Porter are some of the best sellers at Firetrucker, said Heiderscheit, who estimates he’s created close to 50 different beers in his years as a brewer.

Sounds like the men behind Firetrucker are real artists themselves. CV

Firetrucker Brewery
716 S.W. Third St., Ankeny    
Tuesday through Thursday: 4-10 p.m.
Friday and Saturday: noon to 10 p.m.
Sunday: noon to 8 p.m.

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