Bringing out the blades

ShinyTop Brewing adds axe throwing

-Messenger photo by Chad Thompson Brothers Todd McCubbin, left, and Nate McCubbin, co-owners of ShinyTop Brewing, pose in one of the axe lanes at the downtown business. Axe throwing is the newest form of entertainment at the increasingly popular brewery.

There’s a place downtown where one can eat pizza, drink cold craft beers and throw axes at targets on the wall.

Axe throwing, which has become a popular form of recreation across the U.S. in recent years, is the newest addition to ShinyTop Brewing, 520 Central Ave. The brewery, which first opened its doors in the spring of 2016 has become an increasingly popular hangout spot for Fort Dodgers.

When the business started selling its own craft beer, it marked the first time since 1885 that the city had been home to a brewery. In 2017, a patio was added to the business. Later, space that was occupied by the Fort Dodge Cheesecake Lady was made into an area to accommodate a large stage for live entertainment and additional seating.

And ShinyTop continued to expand in the years that followed.

In July of 2018, ShinyTop added a pizzeria.

-Messenger photo by Chad Thompson
Todd McCubbin, co-owner of ShinyTop Brewing, prepares to throw an axe in one of the lanes recently. He and his brother, Nate McCubbin, co-owner of the business, are quite competitive when they face each other in axe throwing or making business decisions. But the brothers agreed, the overall outcome is better when they work together.

Then on Aug. 25, axe throwing debuted in the space that Memories In Focus used to occupy. The renovated area features four lanes with targets along with new tables and chairs.

When engaged in axe throwing, players stand behind a foul line, about 10 feet from the target and try to throw the axe into the target. The targets are labeled with the highest points in the bullseye, and decreasing the further the axe lands from the center. There are multiple different games to play.

“It’s a growing trend we saw and part of it is the great social aspect,” said Nate McCubbin, who co-owns the brewery with his brother, Todd McCubbin. “It’s something not a lot of people have done (in this area). It’s a new attraction that is springing up across America and we wanted to be part of it.”

The brothers had been brainstorming for about a year on how to use the former Memories In Focus space. They put their plan for axe throwing into action in March. Construction began in June.

Throughout the process, the brothers disagreed on a number of things ranging from whether or not to have seats at the bar or where the cooler should go. But they believe their differing opinions led to the best result possible.

“We disagreed on every step of the project, but somehow we always get it done,” Nate McCubbin said. “I think we bring the best of both views to get it done.”

Plus, having a recreational area for axe throwing seems like a better use of the space than its previous use. The room used to serve as an escape of sorts for Nate McCubbin.

“It was used for our overflow storage for a while,” Nate McCubbin said. “I took a nap over there when I needed to.”

And while alcohol is served during axe throwing, customers are limited to two beers while playing.

“You can order pizza and beer back here,” Nate McCubbin said. “You are limited on how many alcoholic beverages you can have while throwing. We encourage you to throw axes and then go have pizza and drinks.”

Axe throwing is available on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m.; and on Saturday from noon to 9 p.m. Sessions are one hour. Age 14 and up can play.

Prices vary depending on size of group. A group of four is $20 per person for an hour plus taxes and fees.

Todd McCubbin, a U.S. Army veteran, said prices are right in line with the rural markets.

Appointments can be booked online only at www.shinytopbrewing.com . Customers must sign a waiver prior to participating.

“We go through a safety orientation and go through how to throw an axe and what’s allowed,” Nate McCubbin said. “We do a few practice throws and then they can start playing one of several games we have. And they enjoy.”

An employee monitors the area at all times.

“Just making sure everyone is safe,” Nate McCubbin said. “And teaching them about the different games available.”

Todd McCubbin, who is also a real estate agent, said the community response so far has been good.

“It’s been really good,” Todd McCubbin said. “The people who have done it have really enjoyed it.”

Lunch menu

In June, ShinyTop added a lunch menu to better serve on-the-go customers during the work day.

“Our regular menu is available,” Todd McCubbin said. “We also offer a lunch special every day designed to be served faster for those with limited time for lunch.”

Some of the offerings have included: chef salad and breadstick, brocoli and cheddar soup with turkey cheddar croissant sandwiches, and tacos.

“There’s one thing we can have for you every day and have it ready in 5 minutes,” Todd McCubbin said.

The regular menu features specialty pizzas such as the jalapeno popper, buffalo chicken and Big Kahuna. The Big Kahuna features a white sauce topped with chicken, ham, bacon, pineapple, basi mozzarella cheese and a sweet glaze.

Aside from pizza, ShinyTop offers appetizers like cheese sticks, pretzel sticks and and nachos. Sandwiches include the chicken bacon ranch, ham and cheddar melt and sausage grinder. For dessert, ShinyTop offers a chocolate brownie served with ice cream and caramel.

The drink menu includes cocktails like a margarita, Bloody Mary and a variety of Moscow Mules.

ShinyTop offers six of its own beers on tap: Unwheatable, Rippen’ Red Irish Ale, Axe and Ladder, Honey Badger, Oatmeal Stout and No Stoppin’ The Hoppin.’

Continued growth

Despite complications since March of 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic impacted so many businesses, ShinyTop has been able to hold steady.

“Getting people back out after COVID (has been a challenge),” Todd McCubbin said. “The gear up after people thought it was OK and then aother shut down. It’s that up and down.”

The business employs about 20 people — some full-time and part-time.

Todd McCubbin said the business has changed in ways the brothers didn’t expect.

“Five years ago we thought we would just be a small taproom for a long time,” Todd McCubbin said.

“That’s why we keep expanding,” Nate McCubbin added. “It has grown in ways and time faster than we could have imagined. We continue to grow and enjoy being part of the Fort Dodge downtown.”


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