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COMMUNITY

BUILDERS

Craig & Sara Neuzil Calmar, IA

h became friends in hig il met in third grade, we ut “B ty. rsi Craig and Sara Neuz ive Un te Sta official while at Iowa all school, and made it ints out. “We skipped po ra Sa ls,” oo sch le dd d mi nt eru pp ere Ko diff ne to sti went / Photo by Kri the awkward years.”

BY KRISTINE KOPPERUD

CRAIG & SARA NEUZIL OF PIVO BREWERY & BLEPTA STUDIOS: BUILD IT, & COMMUNITY WILL COME Within moments of meeting Craig and Sara Neuzil, owners of PIVO Brewery in Calmar, Iowa, it’s clear they’re professional movers – as in, shakers. “We’re planners,” says Sara with a grin, whisking behind the Brewery’s bar to micro-straighten a few sundries. The instinct comes of their first career as a military family. (Craig’s service in the U.S. Air Force precipitated 11 moves in 21 years.) When it came time to put down longer roots, they looked again to the Calmar area, where both had grown up, and where Sara had homesteaded with their two daughters while Craig was deployed to Afghanistan in 2011. “It always felt like we ‘never left,’ anytime we ran into anyone we knew,” Sara says. “We could pick up right where we left off.” “After a life on the move, our goal was to get connected to the community,” Craid adds, “and we thought, ‘What better way than by building a business that brings people together?’” The Neuzils hit the ground running, putting PIVO Brewery and Blepta Studios on the map in 2017. Fomented from Craig’s love of home brewing, the plan had (no surprise) been a decade in development. Blepta Studios and art education center allowed Sara to

expand the azulejos ceramic tile painting she apprenticed at when the family lived in Portugal, as well as her mind-bogglingly intricate (and self-taught) egg dying and batikking, an ancient practice known as kraslice in the Czech Republic or pysanky in Ukraine. Every step in building their brewery-studio-event center on the north edge of town involved repurposing local materials, local craftsmanship, or both. Indeed, every surface of PIVO/Blepta bears a story, from the 10-foot salvaged rectory doors leading to the tap room to the drop-ceiling tiles, arranged like a quilt, that are wrapped in printed flour sacks and fabric from dresses handed down from their grandparents. Even the event center’s dance floor and the very stair steps up to Blepta were locally milled of Iowa ash to intertwine the native resource with what they hope becomes a heritage local business. “When we lived in the South, many homes had American chestnut woodwork,” Sara says, “The trees were threatened and dying, and people preserved their beauty in their homes.” What if, she wondered, the same might one day be true of local ash trees, long menaced by emerald ash borer? iloveinspired.com \ Fall 2021

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Profile for Inspire(d) Media

Inspire(d) Fall 2021  

Change is Good! Inspire(d)’s 14th Anniversary Issue! • Decorah Prairie • Community Builders: Craig & Sara Neuzil • Melissa Wray • Josh Herte...

Inspire(d) Fall 2021  

Change is Good! Inspire(d)’s 14th Anniversary Issue! • Decorah Prairie • Community Builders: Craig & Sara Neuzil • Melissa Wray • Josh Herte...

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