The Facebook post hit me.
It showed the smiling face of R.T. “Tim” Dobeck, sheriff of Indian River County from 1981 to 1993, in front of his agency’s airplane. The campaign memorabilia reminded me of the community events Dobeck held as campaign fundraisers.
Then I saw something I had to taste: a glass of thick, dark stout.
“Tonight, there’s a new sheriff in town!” the post from Kinship Brewing Co. said. “Chocolate forward with plenty of malty roasty-toastiness, this big, bold 11% imperial stout is a fitting tribute to its namesake, Sheriff Dobeck.”
The only problem: Sheriff Dobeck was being tapped in Waukee, Iowa. I’m a craft beer lover, but 22 hours is too long to drive for a beer.
Given Iowa’s brewpub laws prohibiting self-distribution, I’ll have to be patient.
One day, though, it would be neat to visit Kinship, which the youngest son of Dobeck and his wife, Madge, opened Jan. 1.
“It’s always been his dream,” Tim Dobeck said of his son, Zach, 34, who lived in Vero Beach through the middle of second grade at Glendale elementary. The family then moved to the Atlanta suburbs. “He doesn’t do anything before he researches things thoroughly.”
Dobeck said he and his wife hope to see the new brewery later this year, but that doesn’t mean the sheriff is excited about getting a first taste of his namesake. About the only beer he touches nowadays is Old Milwaukee, a sip or two, after using it to baste his chicken.
“I’ll taste it,” Dobeck said of his namesake, “but I’m an old Budweiser guy.”
Not so for the Iowa brewer.
As a political science student at University of Georgia on a pre-law track, Zach Dobeck said he enjoyed visiting Terrapin Beer Co.’s tap room in Athens. He home-brewed beer with his brother and had a beer blog.
He opted for a marketing career instead of law school. Eventually, Dobeck said, he liked the greater challenge as project manager on website development for Chick-fil-A and Herschend Family Entertainment, which operates Dollywood and other attractions.
After that he knew it was time to start a brewery. Iowa — his wife, Ann, grew up in Waukee before becoming a physician assistant in Georgia — would be a better place to raise children than the crowded Atlanta area, Dobeck said.
In August 2018, he agreed to buy 6.24 acres and seek rezoning for an undeveloped, triangle piece of land. At the time, it was accessible only by the 89-mile Raccoon River Valley trail, used predominantly by bicyclists.
Pictures I saw of the location reminded me of this line from the 1989 movie “Field of Dreams.”
My initial thought: “Build it and they will come.”
After all, Waukee’s about three hours across the state from Dyersville, near the cornfield turned baseball field used as the backdrop of the film. In it, Kevin Costner’s character builds the field in the middle of nowhere that — for mystical reasons — turns into a tourist attraction and saves his family’s homestead.
Dobeck, however, has a more concrete vision. He’s seen the dramatic growth in Indian River County, where his parents have returned. Census numbers suggest Indian River has grown 17.6% since 2010 to about 162,659 people.
But Waukee, a western suburb of Des Moines? It’s the state’s fastest-growing city of more than 20,000, exploding by a staggering 74% the past decade, approaching 25,000 residents, according to the Des Moines Register.
“If I wanted to start a brewery I knew I needed to stand out somehow,” Dobeck told me of one reason why he started the first one in Waukee, not just another one in Des Moines.
Months after buying his property, Dobeck learned the Waukee school district bought 90 acres for a new high school and athletic complex less than a mile away.
Dozens of homes have been built within walking distance with hundreds more planned. Meantime, Apple is expected to complete a $1.375 billion, 400,000-square-foot data center campus nearby by August 2027.
As for the bike trail, it attracts 80,000 riders a year, Dobeck said. Even in winter, the brewery has become a watering hole for bicyclists.
“I’ve heard the people from the city say … we’re becoming the new part of the epicenter of Waukee,” he said. “We are basically becoming a neighborhood brewery.”
It’s also becoming a community center, from a half-acre dog park to lots of room for bands and other forms of entertainment.
It fits with Dobeck’s vision and the brewery’s slogan: “Building community. Brewing kinship.”
“That’s what we want to create in the Kinship taproom and in our brand — that you belong here, this is yours,” Dobeck said.
Dobeck’s looking to build a place like TV’s Cheers, where everybody knows your name. That, he said, hearkens to childhood memories at dad’s fish fries, shooting events, dances and other fundraisers, where the sheriff greeted everyone and somehow knew their names.
That task now falls on the son, who feels blessed to have inherited from his grandmother a large scrapbook of his father’s crime-fighting career during the peak of drug smuggling and crack cocaine violence in Indian River County of the 1980s. Louise Dobeck, who lived in Vero Beach for 77 years, died in 2013.
It’s clear family is important to Zach Dobeck. Meantime, Sheriff Dobeck is Kinship’s top-ranked beer on the Untappd beer app, with a 3.91 rating.
“The man. The myth. The legend. My father … ” is how Zach Dobeck described the beer on the app. “A bold beer for a bold man. Be sure to tip your hat to this homage.”
But only in Iowa — until Kinship can expand.
This column reflects the opinion of Laurence Reisman. Contact him via email at email@example.com, phone at 772-978-2223, Facebook.com/larryreisman or Twitter @LaurenceReisman