It wasn’t long ago that taprooms were a new, untested concept, but in today’s market there are few breweries operating without one.
The lack of a taproom has been a drawback for 56 Brewing at their current space at 3134 California St NE in Minneapolis. Founders Kale and Kerry Johnson have had to turn away thirsty customers because they were a production site and tasting room only. In the year and a half they’ve been open, they’ve had to repeatedly explain that they only sell growlers to go and offer small sample-sized pours to try their beer first. However, come early next year, they’ll have a taproom of their own.
Moving out of their 700-square-foot brewery was always the plan, and they’re slightly ahead of schedule. They’d said two years would suffice to get their brand established in the small turnkey brewery they purchased from NorthGate Brewing. On June 30, the 56 team signed a new least just three blocks away, at 3055 Columbia Street NE (click to see a map). They hope to open the new space in early 2017. First, current tenants Northeast Truck & Auto will need to vacate, then 56 will install a new brewhouse and acquire new licensing. They’ve already sold their California Street brewery—meaning the turnkey lineage continues—with Broken Clock Brewing Cooperative set to move into the space once 56 is out.
This happened today. Watch out Northeast, we will be taking over 56 Brewing’s space in early 2017. #abeerrevolution #56movesup #BrokenClockmovesin
Last fall, 56 announced plans for a garden taproom in their current building. As they progressed through the legal steps, however, they hit a key barrier. It passed all regulations except that a new bathroom would be needed.
“It would cost significant money,” says Vice President Kerry Johnson, so they killed the plan, looking bigger instead. “Our thought process was if we were going to expand and put that kind of money into something, we should be looking at a bigger place.”
While the new space increases their footprint to 5,000 square feet, it will keep the same calm atmosphere, Kerry says. There will be significant landscaping and gardening adorning the new brewery, akin to their green oasis among the asphalt desert of California Street, and the same “industrial garden” feel as their current location, she says. The taproom will open into the brewery and there’s potential to add a rooftop patio down the line.
“We looked at a lot of spaces,” all in Northeast, she says, and decided that 56 prefers the outskirts of the “brew district” as compared to the center. “This is the perfect place: it’s close to where we were. It fits our ‘Garden to Growler’ motto,” she explains, and it matches the personalities of the four-headed ownership team.
While the taproom will help financially, the production space will allow for growth. The brewery hit their capacity three months into production, and have been making just enough beer for their current accounts for over a year. The new brewery will allow new distribution points, the creation of new beers, and eventually they hope to add 16-ounce cans to their offerings. With only one paid employee at the moment, Kerry also anticipates hiring new help for both production and the taproom.
56’s growth has been methodical thus far. “Starting small and building our reputation is a huge asset,” Johnson says. “We’ve had time to do things at our own pace.” Now she’s looking forward to the next phase: building a taproom and brewery where they can connect with even more of their Northeast neighbors.