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John's Grocery Inc.
$$ - reasonable
[ Store ]
401 E Market St
phone: (319) 337-2183
Specializes in imported beer and glassware; also known as Dirty Johns for selling Playboy magazines in the 1950s.
Monday - Thursday: 7:30am - Midnight
Friday & Saturday: 7:30am - 2:00am)
Sunday: 9:00am - Midnight
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vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.75 | selection: 4.25 | $$$
Lots of imports and Belgians. Very good selection, although just a bit light in microbrews for my taste. Staff is very knowledgeable and can tell you just about anything about anything that they have. It's in a small corner grocery store, but the beer room is separated from the rest of the store and is worth the trip.
03-13-2013 03:40:51 |
More by Tjvan2
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5 | $$
Stopped in on my trip past I-80. Easy to get to but the lack of parking was a disappointment. There is a small lot behind the store but it looked like chaos going on. Ended up parking a block or two away on campus. Risking a ticket I hurried myself to the store. One of the most interesting stores for beer I have set foot in. A small market/deli/wine/ and beer store. I think beer takes up most of the space but I did not search every nook and cranny in the building as I was in a hurry. Nice selection and I picked up a few bottles of interest or on sale. I think if it is for sale in Iowa, it is at John's. Interesting mix of college kids and longtime neighborhood residents. Service was very good and friendly even though I did not ask for assistance.
Not sure of the business model, but I would do away with the market and expand the deli and alcohol departments. God knows they need the room and there did not seem to be much focus on the deli which I think could be huge.
11-11-2012 00:34:54 |
More by morimech
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5 | $$
Visited mid-afternoon August 30
I knew of John's reputation for great beer selection prior to visiting Iowa City on business, so a stop there (even a brief one) was a must before leaving town. The day was a scorcher (mid/upper 90s) and my traveling coworker had no interest, so I left her curbside (our rental car's A/C running) for a 15 minute shopping spree! We'd actually eaten breakfast a block away (Hamburg Inn) earlier in the day, so John's was very easy to find, despite a modest brick facade and an average-looking corner location.
Inside, I immediately veered right past the counter and into a vast wine department. Oops, I'm here for beer! A quick correction past the half-filled deli case and I entered Beervana - a sizable room stacked floor-to-ceiling with hundreds and hundreds of imported and domestic bottles. Oh, to have adequate time to browse!!! I next entered an equally spacious walk-in cooler, again stacked 8 feet high with shelf upon shelf of beer. I noticed right away that all the cases and sixers of macro stuff was placed at the back of the cooler, forcing one to walk past all the 'craft' stuff in order to get to it. Clever.
In the few minutes I had to shop, I was approached by 3 different employees (easy to spot in John's T-shirts of varying colors) all eager to help: one guided me to the empty six-bottle carriers for mixed packs, another pointed out the Iowan locals in the cooler plus a few favorites and a third was friendly at the register. My bill for 12 bottles and cans was about $28 with tax (borderline pricy, but I'll call it 'reasonable' for 12 singles). Among them: three different bottles from Peace Tree, a couple from Millstream, a couple more (cans) from Great River, and odd & ends from Summit & Tallgrass...plus a pair of Two-Hearteds, among my all-time favorite IPAs. I didn't go out of my way to find the 'fanciest' or 'rarest' bottles, opting instead for an array of styles from mostly local breweries we'll never see back home in Oregon.
Although I skipped buying glassware (have plenty at home), I've heard their inventory is vast.
Excellent store with friendly staff, tons of selection. Couldn't ask for more ~ very highly recommended.
09-11-2012 19:03:09 |
More by msubulldog25
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4 | $$
This among the best places to find any and all beers available in Iowa.
The customer service service, quality and selection are all very good, many of the staffers are very knowledgeable about beer. The atmosphere was good but kind of cramped in space, although considering the location in downtown Iowa City its understandable that expansion isn't possible. Value was reasonable, most micro/non specialty beers/ales had a good prices. Some prices for ales/beers were high priced, but due to the rarity of them,, the prices were about right.
Excellent place to find beer, among the best in the Midwest.
03-05-2012 00:00:24 |
More by jzlyo
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | $$
This is one of the best shop if not the best shop in Iowa. A fantastic place to get some hard to find and specialty brews especially given the state liquor and distribution laws.
As far as the service and selection goes: this is as solid as it gets. The staff that man the bottle shop and house of glass are very knowledgeable. The shop have a fantastic selection of belgians, seriously one of the best I have ever seen. The organization is very intuitive and has much more than just the standard trappists. They regularly get new stock and change up their lineup. In addition to the belgian, they have a great selection of Germans and English beers. Additionally, they have quite a few hard to find gems such as norweigen and finnish beers.
In addition to the foreign lagers, they do have a decent selection of all of the available microbrews, particularly goose island, Sam Adams, Bells, Rogue, Ommegang and some smaller ones. Most of the microbrews are kept cold but unfortunately, a lot of the european brews are kept in the cellar which is cool, but not cellar cold unfortunately.
The final note that sets Johns Apart from many other shops is the House of Glass. It's a separate building next door that has an incredible selection of beer memorabilia. They have a world class selection of glassware that makes a great pairing when trying a new beer.
12-21-2011 08:33:35 |
More by cradke
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 3.5 | $$
I had read about this place and was very excited when, walking back to our car, our local Iowa City friend said we were one block from the famous John's Grocery.
So there we went, a funky store with groceries, cold drinks and lots of beer shelved among a maze of narrow aisles.
To be honest, I didn't find anything super amazing or must-have, but the selection is good. More so considering this is Iowa City!
Some names that caught my attention were several Harvest Ale; a lot of Belgians like Ommegang, Chimay and Delirium;l Mikkeller, Nogne and some obscure Scandinavians, plus British brews a plenty.
Bombers are inside a walk-in cooler, which is great, and include Boulevard, Rogue, Goose, Cricket Hill from New Jersey (bought a bourbon-barreled porter).
Ton of 6-packs with the usual names, all cold and mostly Midwest. To be honest, nothing here blew me away, but I'll concede that -for Iowa City- this is a good enough selection.
Service was friendly and helpful- we were perusing the aisles and a beer guy came over asking if we needed help.
09-24-2011 01:25:46 |
More by DoubleSimcoe
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5 | $$
Stopped here on my way home from my recent Iowa trip. I'm glad I did.
So we snake our way past the grocery store to the back where the beer is kept. Wow! What a magnificent display of beer. A whole room of imports. The room was stocked from floor to ceiling with every import you can think of. Including a solid amount of stuff I've never seen at Discount in Milwaukee. The walk in cooler was filled with top to bottom American craft. The usual Midwest selection along with all the Iowa beers I've never seen before. A very nice singles selection for making an Iowa mix pack. Which I gladly did.
The service was top notch. I spoke with several employees and all were extremely helpful. They even offered to open the glass shop next door. I declined since I was blowing my load of cash on Belgian sours.
This is a beer oasis in a what seems to be a desert otherwise. You must stop here if you are coming anywhere near Iowa city. I will be going back for sure.
07-06-2011 22:42:08 |
More by beerwolf77
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4 | service: 5 | selection: 4.5 | $$
Places like John's are few and far between. They definitely carve out there own unique niche, combining a quirky small neighborhood market with a top quality beer store. You have to respect an independent retailer like this, doing everything themselves, and doing it well. The only similar regional places that come to mind are Tenuta's in Kenosha, Groppi's Market in Milwaukee, and West Lakeview Liquors in Chicago.
We had to ask where the beer was when we walked in, as it was hidden past a door in a wall of potato chips (you read that right). Inside the beer room were walls of imports of all kinds, many obscure styles and breweries i've never seen before, as well as the top quality standbys. Cases stacked up near the door, and a walk-in cooler inside to the left. There were hundreds of imports, pretty impressive. Obscure breweries from New Zealand (8 Wired), Japan (Baird), Italy (Revelation Cat), Denmark (Bøgedal), and more... not just the usual UK (Cains Dark Mild), German (Leipziger Gose), Belgian stuff (Hanssens), but those were all there, and very extensive.
Craft stuff was mainly all in the walk-in, many seasonals and limited releases, and a broad representation from the midwest as well as east/west coast stuff. Noticed Cricket Hill from NJ, Lost Coast from CA, and many things in between. A small sampling: Boulevard (4 smokestack series, 750s and 4-packs), Goose Island (4 reserve line bombers, 4-packs), Lakefront bombers (Fixed Gear, etc.), Brau Brothers, Bells, Founders (4-5 6-packs), Jolly Pumpkin (4+ 750s), Potosi, New Belgium (Lips of Faith series).
The Iowa shelves held beers from Great River, Peace Tree, Madhouse, and Millstream. Singles were available for several of these, ranging from $2-3.
Staff was really helpful, pointing us to the Iowa micros inside the beer cooler, giving lunch recommendations, and opening up the glassware shop next door for us (a sight to behold in itself). Top place in Iowa City, must see if you're passing through on I-80.
06-27-2011 16:00:07 |
More by emerge077
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4 | $
Made a stop at John's prior to heading over to the Sanctuary while passing through Iowa City.
The at-the-time A+ rating with over 50 reviews really had my hopes up and I think I was let down a bit.
To begin with, beer in Iowa is limited to what establishments can get through their distributor. The impressive wall of Belgians is occupied by most of the most common and accessible Belgians. No Cantillon (hoping to luck out and find something rare and dusty) but they did have some Drie Fonteinen.
I didn't buy any beer on this visit and I'm not sure I would risk spending money on the majority of the non-Belgian imports. I saw a couple of English IPA's where the sediment lead me to believe they had been there for quite some time.
What I did love about this place was the house next door where I dropped $130 on glassware - especially my new Reissdorf Kölsch serving tray with .20 CL glasses. Got an altbier, rauchbeir, czech pilsner, Unibroue wit, and a bunch of other glasses.
Overall, this may be a great place for chilled and Belgian beer if you are a resident of the area. It is an excellent stop for those looking to extend their glassware collection.
06-16-2011 03:01:06 |
More by Yetiman420
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 4 | selection: 5 | $$
Having lived in Iowa City for my entire life, I have to say I'm surprised I didn't go there more often even before I turned 21. This place is the epitome of a quirky, homey, and unique grocery store. The shelves are stocked full of a huge variety of items and you can rest assured you'll find just about anything you need there. And I havent even started talking about the beer selection!
If you want to find that rare imported beer, you stand a pretty good chance of either finding it in-stock or being able to order it in. Nearly every country that brews beer of any sort is represented in their beer room. Not to mention their impressive trappist beer selection (of course, no westvleteren in stock though).
They also make a good point of carrying lots of local brews including their very own specialty wheat beer brewed courtesey of Millstream Brewery in Amana, IA.
Also a great selection of beer memorabilia and beer glasses next door in John's Grocery's House of Glass. Lots of cool swag to compliment your beer purchases!
Overall, my #1 spot when I want to just "try something different"
04-10-2011 21:48:32 |
More by rundocrun
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John's Grocery Inc. in Iowa City, IA