Three Lake Mills High School graduates and their ex-teacher have embarked on the ultimate extra credit project – starting a brewery in their small town, Main Street.

“I can’t believe that after all the heartache these three gave me, one day I’d do business with them,” joked Jim Boehmer, high school social studies teacher and Lake Mills director of sports. “But they’re great people for Lake Mills, they all own and run various businesses around town, and they’re community minded people.

“It was an adventure for all of us, but it was something we thought was good for Lake Mills and that was our concern: How do we fill a storefront and find ways to get people into town?”

Nathan Ostrander (1996 degree) owns Lake Mills Pump Service, Ross Hanson (1993 degree) farms and is the Public Works Director for the City of Lake Mills, and Jason Peterson (1992 degree) directs Peterson Sanitation.

Peterson had been a homebrewer for years, and Böhmer knew he was good at his trade. The four, all of whom serve together in the Lake Mills Fire Department, joked about opening a brewery, but it wasn’t until the spring of 2017 that the jokes sparked action.

“A group of us met downtown,” Boehmer said, “and at the end of the day the four of us seemed like we wanted to do this. We didn’t think it through – we jumped in. In July 2017 we owned a building and could get started. “

Finding a name and a topic wasn’t that difficult. “We are all firefighters and wanted an issue related to our community involvement. We thought a subject related to fire was unusual. ”The name came about because a fire with five alarms is a large fire. “Basically, a five-alarm fire means everyone is on deck,” said Böhmer, who has served with the Lake Mills Fire Department since 1994.

The brewery theme becomes clear as soon as you step through the doors of 5 Alarm. Old fire equipment can be found throughout the property, and the walls are covered in photos of the Lake Mills Fire Department and various fires in the area.

“They all tell a story,” says Böhmer.

The theme of 5 Alarm Brewing Co. becomes clear upon entering the doors.  Old fire equipment can be found throughout the property, and the walls are covered in photos of the Lake Mills Fire Department and various fires in the area.

A main focus is on their patch wall with a map of Iowa.

“When fire departments come to visit, we encourage them to bring us a patch and we will hang it on our wall. We have patches from all over the country and even some from all over the world. We felt this was a way to identify first responders, and in a great state like Iowa, most of the volunteers are doing their best to help their communities, big and small, ”said Boehmer.

The four owners all have different roles in the company. Ostrander takes care of the work schedule, Hanson takes care of the finances, Boehmer serves as janitor and takes care of their mug club and Peterson is the brewer.

“Jason is a ‘free spirit’ when it comes to brewing,” says Böhmer. “You never know what he will notice and what he will create. There’s no rhyme or reason, and that also makes us a fun place to visit. He is a creative brewer and loves to mix things up and create new ideas. “

Peterson has a repertoire of a few dozen beers he has created, from the Pumper Truck IPA to the Blueberry Wheat to the fall favorites Maple Pecan Brown and Pumpkin Ale.

“We get a taste test, that’s a great job,” adds Böhmer.

While you can only find 5 Alert Beers at the brewery, there are limited amounts of cans and growlers available for you to take home with you.

5 Alarm Brewing Co. in Lake Mills is 245 km from Des Moines.  The opening times are from Thursday to Friday from 4pm to 10pm and Saturday from 12pm to 10pm.

Address: 211 W. Main St., Lake Mills

website: 5alarmbrewingco.com

Distance from Downtown Des Moines: 147 miles

hours: 4 pm-10pm Thursday-Friday, 12-10pm Saturday

eat: “We decided right away that we wouldn’t make any food,” says Böhmer. “We have great restaurants in Lake Mills and we didn’t want to compete with them. We keep their menus and encourage people to bring their food to us. Our restaurants are reason enough to visit Lake Mills, so we just felt we could complement them, not compete with them. ”Order at Teluwut Grille House & Pub (teluwut.com), Main Street Pizza (facebook. com / lakemillspizza) or Ay Jalisco (https://www.facebook.com/pages/category/Mexican-Restaurant/Ay-Jalisco- Lake-Mills-1698488843758559), all popular restaurants.

children: Being a family-friendly brewery was not negotiable for the four owners. “We sell craft root beer that is brewed in Minnesota to those who want it,” said Boehmer. “We have games for the kids and we want people to come after a game to order a pizza and enjoy a family-friendly atmosphere.” In the basement there is a play area with table games, bags and collecting areas for large groups. “We are only open until 10 p.m. We all have our own families. Jason, Ross and Nathan all have small children at home, ”says Böhmer.

While you are there: A must for coffee lovers is the Swallow Coffeehouse (225 W. Main St.). Golfers can try one of the best 18-hole golf courses in the state at Rice Lake Golf Course. The Diamond Jo Casino is just off the Lake Mills exit on I-35. And don’t miss the Promise of America Monument, dedicated to Norwegian immigrants. “When you come to Lake Mills, I can tell you what to bring: golf clubs, an appetite for good food, a thirst for local craft beer, an appetite for hiking and a positive attitude. We love to see all of these things in Lake Mills, ”said Boehmer. “I-35 and I-90 are all very close together, so there’s no reason not to make this trip a weekend getaway. If you’re a first responder, this is a must-have on your to-do list. ”