Meet the Bartenders: Brewhouse Edition


Paul Hansen

Nick Leedom (middle) and Abby Martin (right) are two of Grinnell Craft Brewhouse’s bartenders who give the Brewhouse its essence.

Ashley Baek, Staff Writer

On any odd Friday night, you may find yourself tucked away at the Grinnell Craft Brewhouse with its plethora of craft beer, creative cocktails, charming climate and, of course, its bartenders.

It is a mostly agreed-upon fact that bartenders are the essence of a good bar, and Grinnell Craft Brewhouse is no exception. At the brewhouse, Abby Martin and Nick Leedom shape their customers’s experiences through craft beers, cocktails and charming conversation.

Leedom said, “The responsibilities vary from job to job. At Grinnell Craft, it’s pretty chill. Largely, we pour beer and make cocktails, chat with customers, make sure they’re of age and drinking responsibly, then we clean before and after. It’s a nice, relaxing job with next to no issues.”

Leedom is from Ottumwa, Iowa and said that he started working at Grinnell Craft Brewhouse after The Peppertree at the Depot Crossing, where he previously worked, closed in 2020. He said, “I work here because I grew to love bartending.” Then, he grew to love the people at the brewhouse.

[At Grinnell Craft Brewhouse,] I have the opportunity to create a wide variety of cocktails, which is probably my favorite aspect. Being at a place that lets me be creative helps keep the job fresh and exciting.

— Nick Leedom, bartender at Brewhouse

When prompted about stories from his time working at the brewhouse, Nick said, “there’s not much to report outside of how badly I can butcher a song when we have karaoke.”

His favorite cocktail to make is called Blood on a Rose. It uses absinthe, cointreau noir, ice cubes made out of rose-hibiscus tea and a rose simple syrup and is garnished with a dried blood orange.

Another popular cocktail is called the Pineapple Upside-Down Cake, which includes pineapple juice, vodka and a maraschino cherry. Leedom said that most customers order beer, and Grinnell Craft Brewhouse’s offerings include Easy Eddy, Kalona Classic, 1939 and the Blood Orange Wheat.

Martin grew up in Grinnell and moved back into town a couple of years ago. As she settled back into Grinnell’s rhythm, she decided to try to go to all the bars in town. She said that she liked the brewhouse because it had both ciders on tap and liquor options.

As she discovered the bars around town, Martin said that she made friends with the bartenders, especially those at the brewhouse. After one had to give up his hours, she said that “I was a natural fit. I had already been working on event-night things [like trivia night].” Martin now runs the Pictionary and trivia nights at the brewhouse and has been working there for two years.

“I’ve always loved talking to people, and there’s a lot of truth behind the idea that bartenders are amateur therapists. It’s been really cool to get to know people I’ve seen in town most of my life in a different way,” Martin said. “I won’t reveal any embarrassing stories about them, otherwise they won’t come back!”

Martin said that she enjoys the challenges that come with the job. “Being a bartender is part alchemy, part talking to people and mostly a balancing act. You get a serious memory workout trying to get all of the recipes, people’s usuals and the different tabs every night.”