Iowa Made: Brats, Beer, Coffee, Herbs, And Salsa!

Photos courtesy of Toppling Goliath, Pickle Creek and Woudstra Meat Market

By Sean Dengler

November 29, 2022

The holiday season is here. If you are in the mood to give gifts to family and friends, buy local. You can also prove to family and friends living outside of the state why Iowa Made products are the best. 

Here is a list of great products made in the Hawkeye State.

Toppling Goliath Brewing Co.

Toppling Goliath Brewing in Decorah/Photo courtesy of Toppling Goliath

In 2009, Clark and Barb Lewey founded Toppling Goliath Brewing in Decorah out of their garage. Toppling Goliath’s name came from a previous marketing and consulting company Clark owned, according to the Des Moines Register

Toppling Goliath Marketing Director Sarah Moellers said after their initial success and need for expansion, the Leweys thought about moving the brewery to a more urban location. However, Toppling Goliath was a huge part of the community, so they stayed in Decorah because it felt right. 

Toppling Goliath distributes in 30 states, mainly in the Great Plains and Great Lakes regions. You can also use the beerfinder option on Toppling Goliath’s website to find its beer. Its most popular beers are the Kentucky Brunch Brand Stout, which has been at the top of the Beer Advocate Top Rated beer list since 2015. Other favorites include Pseudo Sue, Dorothy’s New World Lager, King Sue, and Dragon Fandango, all of which are found on shelves year-round. 

Some of Toppling Goliath’s most popular beers/Photo courtesy of Toppling Goliath

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Cafe del Sol

Located in Iowa City, Cafe del Sol is one of the longest-running independent roasters in Iowa. Founder and crafter Stephen Dunham uses a process called “air roasting” in which beans are levitated in a heated chamber so they are the hottest surface; this prevents any burning or charring. 

According to Stephen, the name Cafe del Sol comes from his late ex-wife, Donna Palmer. As a Spanish student, she chose the name as an homage to a former roastery they used to love called “Café du Royale.” Over more than 30 years in business, Cafe del Sol moved throughout Iowa City going from an apartment to a house to commercial buildings and finally to a building in south Iowa City where it has been located for the last seven years.

Cafe del Sol’s popular blends are Espresso, Turkish, and Jaguar, and it also develops blends for local restaurants. Stephen also mentioned they produce single-origin coffees from various countries in Latin America, Africa, Asia, and the South Pacific. In addition to its blends, Cafe del Sol’s cold-brewed liquid concentrate also has a loyal following.

Cafe del Sol’s products can be found throughout Eastern Iowa at all three New Pioneer Co-op locations, Gary’s Foods in Mount Vernon, Hy-Vees in Iowa City, Coralville, North Liberty, and Cedar Rapids, the Field to Family online farmers market, and by pre-order and pick-up appointment through phone or email. You can also visit its stand at the Iowa City Farmers Market each Saturday from May through October.

During the winter months, Cafe del Sol is at the Iowa City Holiday Markets in November and December. This roaster is also at the Eastside Artists show in December. Its roasts are also served at other restaurants, workplaces, and houses of worship in the area.

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Pickle Creek Herbs

Pickle Creek Herbs of Fairfield’s house seasoning/Photo courtesy of Pickle Creek Herb


In 2006, Tim and Jocelyn Engman gave up their chemistry jobs in the Chicago area to come back to the family farm in southeast Iowa near Fairfield to start Pickle Creek Herbs.

Jocelyn said while Pickle is not the official name of the creek on their farm, Pickle Creek Herbs got its name from the creek’s lore. People used the sandy soil next to the creek to grow cucumbers which were then pickled. After two years of growing and developing their products, Tim and Jocelyn started selling a variety of products including herbs, garlic, and original, made-by-hand recipes for herb-infused olive oils and bottles of vinegar. 

Popular Pickle Creek products include the Roasted Garlic Infused Olive Oil and the Pear Verbena Champagne Balsamic Vinegar is another favorite.  If you are a fan of spice, try the Prairie Fire Infused Olive Oil, which won the 2019 Chili Oil Scovie Award. 

These products and more can be found in close to 100 retail stores located mainly in Iowa and the Midwest. Pickle Creek Herbs also attends the Des Moines Downtown Farmers Market and other farmers markets in Cedar Rapids, Iowa City, Davenport, Fairfield, and Washington. You can also visit its tasting room in Fairfield and shop its online store to have its product shipped to you. 

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Mad Butcher Salsa

In the early 1990s, Rae Lynn and Ron Sanculi started making salsa due to their dissatisfaction with the commercial salsa market. After two years of using fresh vegetables from their garden, different combinations of vegetables like peppers, tomatoes, and onions, in addition to adding in and taking out different spices, Mad Butcher Salsa was born. According to Mad Butcher Brands, Rae Lynn was looking to retire in 2019 and sold the business to Todd’s Foods, which was also Mad Butcher’s contract manufacturer. The medium salsa is the original and the most popular variation in addition to Mad Butcher’s mild and hot versions. Recently, Amarillo and Blanco Queso have been added to the product list. 

The salsas are available at all Fareway and Hy-Vee stores as well as Walmart stores in states along Interstate 35. The quesos are available at all Fareway stores and will soon be at Hy-Vee stores.

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Woudstra Meat Market

Brats are one of the most popular offerings at Woudstra Meat Market in Orange City/Woudstra Meat Market

Orange City’s Woudstra Meat Market got its start in 1926 when founder James Woudstra bought a stake into another butcher shop. Woudstra eventually acquired full ownership of the shop and it remained under his family’s stewardship until 1995.

It’s had a few different owners since then and the latest are Junior and Kim Hoogland, and Steve and Vonda Post, who bought it in 2021, according to  As animal producers, it made sense for the Hooglands and the Posts to expand Woudstra. In 2022, they opened Highland Post,  a meat-processing facility that serves as a sister company to Woudstra.

According to Woudstra Manager Martina Hoogland, the most popular products are dried beef, bratwursts, pig in the blankets and their various Dutch products. Currently, these delicious items can only be bought at Woudstra’s storefront location in Orange City.


by Sean Dengler

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