Having been in continuous operation for nearly 25 years, Front Street Brewery is the oldest brew pub and second oldest brewery, in the state of Iowa. It was the 300th craft brewery to be established in the United States, founded by master brewer and engineer, Steve Zuidema, and co-operated with his wife, Jenni Ash. The brewery’s humble beginnings started with a 7-barrell brew house in the basement of the current brew pub location, located on River Drive in downtown Davenport. The 100+ year old building is nestled along the banks of the Mississippi River, in downtown Davenport, Iowa, in what was known from the late 1800,’s into the early 1900,s as the “Bucktown” neighborhood. In those days, River Drive was known as Front Street. The Bucktown neighborhood itself, was known for its plethora of drinking establishments and houses of ill repute, which helped gain Davenport its title of “Wickedest City in America”.
In 1993, just months after opening Front Street Brewery, the “Great Flood of the Mississippi River” engulfed most of downtown Davenport, and completely submerged the original basement-level brewery, along with the entire brew pub. Before succumbing to the disastrous flood waters, friends and loyal customers worked around the clock, in exchange for free beer, sandbagging and pumping water, in a futile effort to save Front Street. Out of this tragedy, one of Front Street’s flagship beers, Raging River, was born.
In 2012, the brewing operations were relocated to their current location in The Freight House, just four blocks west of the brew pub, on River Drive. The brewery itself was also upgraded to something on more of a commercial scale, and included a 15-barrel brew house and four 15-barrel fermentation vessels. This move allowed the restaurant to expand seating and kitchen space, while allowing a taproom to open inside the new brewery. The new brewhouse was designed by Steve himself, and custom built by Crawford Company, under Steve’s direction. Today, the Brewing Division of Crawford Company is a formidable player in the brewing equipment space, and our brewhouse is the grandfather of their brewing equipment line.
In 2016, Front Street Brewery, Inc. was acquired by the current ownership group. The new owners primary objective is to grow the beer business into large scale distribution, both in keg sales and retail packaging, while maintaining what everyone has come to expect from Front Street Brewery.