ISD Road Trip: Amana Colonies, a world filled with history

Syrup is poured over a plate of pancakes from the Ox Yoke Inn located in the Amana Colonies. The Ox Yoke Inn a well known stop for food in the Amana Colonies.

Frances Myers

Driving into the Amana Colonies, you might do a double take. The streets, the walkways and the buildings all seemingly transport you into a whole other world, a world filled with so much history, you nearly forget you’re living in 2012.

For this week’s road trip, the Daily decided the Amana Colonies would be an interesting place to visit; full of culture, history, and interesting craft shops, not to mention great food. The buildings are all made of historic brick, stone and clapboard. The gardens are alive with vibrant colors. The community is completely reflective of its heritage, that of the German Pietists who originally settled it.

The Amana Colonies have been a national historic landmark since 1965 and are also one of America’s longest-lived communal societies. The word “Amana” comes from the biblical Song of Solomon 4:8. It means to “remain true.”

For our first stop in the Amana Colonies, we stopped for breakfast at the Ox Yoke Inn, a quiet restaurant, which is “World famous for American and German food served ‘Family Style.’” With quick service and friendly staff, it was a very homey atmosphere. It was a very nice contrast to the typical breakfast of a college student.

Next we wandered down the street looking at small shops and enjoying the quiet morning. We came to the Village Store and decided to take a look around. We sampled some delicious fudge and looked at some of the trinkets the store had to offer.

Walking back down the street, our attention was diverted to a store called The Chocolate Haus — Dessert and Coffee Café. With so much candy and chocolate we couldn’t help but feel like little kids again. The store boasted of “gourmet hand-dipped chocolates, cheesecakes, truffles, sugar-free chocolates, ice cream, kid’s frappes, espresso, gourmet coffee and smoothies.”

We had to stop ourselves from buying all the chocolate and fudge within the store. Talk about difficult.

After purchasing a few choice goodies, we decided it was time for a change of pace. Driving around, we came upon — what could be better? — the brewery named Millstream Brewing Company, Iowa’s “Oldest and Most Award Winning Craft Brewery.” Millstream was founded in 1985.

We talked for a while with Teresa Albert, one of the owners of the brewery. She takes care of the marketing, sales, distribution and events. She has owned the brewery with her husband and the brewmaster for 11 and a half years.

“We are Iowa’s oldest and largest microbrewery,” Albert said. “And I believe about the 15th oldest operational in the United States.”

The most popular beer Millstream makes, Albert said, is the Schild Brau Amber brew. Millstream makes about 15 different types of beer throughout the year. Albert said there are five year-round beers Millstream makes along with four seasonal types of beer.

“That’s our flagship beer,” Albert said. “It’s the original recipe we started the brewery with 26 years ago. We have about 30 awards to date and out of those 30 medals, 16 are from that beer alone. So it is a multinational, international award winner. That received gold medal at the World Beer Cup two years ago, which is the most prestigious competition of the world. We’re very proud of that one.”

Albert said during the summers, the brewery holds live music on Saturday nights. Food is brought in, and the event is family friendly. Some weekends, the brewery does “theme nights,” such as “beach party”.

When asked when the best time is to visit Amana, Albert replied with a grin: ”Oktoberfest.”

“Oktoberfest is always a blast,” Albert said. “I mean, it’s wall-to-wall for three days for town-wide. Everybody’s in town, and there just is one big party. There’s different things going on. Check the Amana Colonies website, and you can see all the events we have going on. You know, Model A day, you can see a hundred Model As coming in. Everything else, from that to many many other activities going on in town.”