Now Open (or Damn Close) looks at St. Paul’s newest brewery: Wabasha Brewing.
St. Paul’s West Side neighborhood is steeped in Minnesota’s brewing tradition. It’s there that Anthony Yoerg moved Minnesota’s first commercial brewing company in 1871 where it stood until 1953. Martin Bruggeman followed suit in 1872 and moved Bruggeman’s Brewery to the West Side, just 150 yards away from Yoerg. Caves like the Wabasha Street Caves were cut into the sandstone bluffs along the river to age beer. By the mid-20th century the brewing scene in the West Side had completely dried up and faded into history.
Now, three friends are bringing brewing back to the neighborhood in a former tin shop built during that bygone era of brewing in 1865. Chris Kolve, Josh Tischleder, and Brett Erickson are the minds behind Wabasha Brewing Company, a 15 bbl brewery located just up the bluff from the historic Wabasha Street Caves and Boca Chica Mexican Restaurant.
“This building and this area is an older part of town. People can walk in and have the feeling that this has been here a long time, and kick back and hang out, order a beer and some tacos,” said Tischleder. They chose the name Wabasha and designed the logo as a nod to historic St. Paul and to reflect the “old school” mentality of the neighborhood.
Kolve purchased the building for his coated abrasives business and convinced Erickson, who introduced Kolve to homebrewing, to start a brewery in the unused half of the building. Erickson introduced Kolve to a bowling friend of his, Josh “Tiki” Tischleder, who was an experienced beer buyer, driver for a local beer distributor, and tap line cleaner, and the three started the planning process.
They got to know each other better by meeting at the Happy Gnome after Tiki and Brett’s bowling league nights and try as many different types of beer as possible to train their palates and identify the styles and flavors they wanted to serve at Wabasha.
The beers they decided to offer are straightforward, true-to-style recipes from Head Brewer Brett Erickson, including a cream ale, kölsch, Baltic porter, stout, and IPA. Wabasha’s beers will be on tap in the brewery taproom and available on draft at select St. Paul bars and restaurants.
The taproom is temporarily located upstairs at the back of the building inside the brewhouse. Equipped with a wood bar made from reclaimed bowling lanes, the taproom seats a cozy 33 people. They are currently finishing construction on a larger taproom space on the main floor, which will seat 90 people and is adorned with restored tin ceilings. In addition to the taproom, the brewery will have an outdoor patio space for the warmer months and a private parking lot where they plan to host events.
“Talking to all the people in the neighborhood, they’ve been waiting for something like this,” said Kolve, “and we’re going to try to be the neighborhood bar.”
The Brewer: Brett Erickson
The Beer: Kölsch, Stout, Baltic Porter, IPA, Cream Ale, and rotating seasonals
Visit: 429 Wabasha St. S, Saint Paul, MN
Hours: Thu & Fri 3–10pm, Sat 12–10pm