I went to the Sanctuary Pub this Friday for the first time. The bar is in an old building with a lot of history. It is dark, with lots of wood, the kind of pub I like. There are 27 taps with a good selection of Iowa brewed, Belgian and Belgian-style, and general craft beers. There is also a large (100+) selection of bottles. I did not get to try the food, but the menu looked very interesting and I would love to eat there some time (I later got the opportunity and the food was good too).
I was able to try the Golden Nugget IPA on tap. This comes from the Toppling Goliath brewery in Decorah, Iowa. It is a light-drinking, but a big and boldly flavored, refreshing, very hop forward, IPA. It has massive fruit flavors, citrus and tropical fruits, with a smooth finish. I was blown away by it and instantly rated it as one of the five best IPA's I have ever had. I was also able to try Toppling Goliath's Dorothy's New World Lager, and it was one of the tastiest and most solid American lagers I have had in a long time. If you ever get a chance to try a Toppling Goliath beer, don't miss out.
I tasted the Aphrodite from Ommegang, which is a limited release newly on tap at Sanctuary. It was tart, dry and fruity. Its only drawback for me was that its fruit flavor is mainly raspberry, which is not a fruit flavor I particularly like. Despite that, it was apparent how well crafted this beer is. I also tried the Double Dog Double Pale Ale by Flying Dog. It was massive in every way, tons of hops, tons of malt, and a high alcohol at about 11.5%. Flying Dog has withdrawn from distribution in Iowa, so it was the last time to experience any of their beers in this area.
Finally, I had not been able to try a Bear Republic Racer 5 in a long time so I gave that a try. A very solid hop forward IPA, but after the fresh, draft Golden Nugget, it just couldn't stand up.
Our server, David, was very knowledgeable about beer and very friendly. If he's working while you are there, give him a big tip, he deserves it!
If you like beer and are in Iowa City, don't miss out on going to the Sanctuary.