“I love craft beer bars,” says Nate Field, owner/director at the soon to open Community Keg House. “But the frustrating thing is they have 50 beers all next to each other. It’s so busy and it’s hard to get information.” Field wanted a more direct source of information: a place that combines the relaxed, stay-as-long-as-you-want atmosphere of a taproom or coffee shop with a wide ranging and well-curated beer list. Not seeing that business model anywhere in the Twin Cities, he decided to create it.
Housed in a former keg storage facility of the old Grain Belt complex in Northeast Minneapolis, Community Keg House aims to straddle the line between craft beer bar and taproom, Field says, in an effort to showcase Minnesota’s brewing industry. While that’s likely to be appealing to beer lovers, the main draw of the Keg House will be how the beer is offered: namely, in a self-serve format.
Upon entry, customers will purchase either a 10- ($4) or 16-ounce ($6) glass and head into the tap area, which will include four zones broken down by style and rotated every two months. (At opening, the zones will offer 16 taps of Minnesota-made beers and ciders that fall into the categories of “winter, hoppy, Belgian, and alternative.”) Then, with “taptenders” showing them how to correctly pour a beer, customers will be free to fill up their glass with whichever beer they please.
The kitchen will also operate in a self-service manner: customers will order and pay at the counter, then have the food delivered to their table, eliminating the need for waitstaff. “The thing about servers is they need you to move through,” Field says. “Conversation is interrupted and bills are dropped at the table. There’s an anxiety associated with that.”
Field’s main ambition with Community Keg House is to showcase the local industry. “We see this whole thing as a training facility,” he says, referring to teaching the public how to pour beer as well as educating drinkers about different styles and ingredients. To execute this mission, Field hired Certified Cicerone® Jake Fossum (formerly of The Four Firkins); his ultimate goal is to help the rest of the staff achieve cicerone status with time. Other staff members include Taylor Kephart (The Mill) and Derek Pearson (formerly of New Bohemia NE).
Community Keg House’s 16 taps will be limited to one per brewery at any given time, which Field hopes will ultimately drive traffic to those breweries. He wants to expose customers to the taproom vibe while and save them from making 16 separate stops to figure out what they like.
“If you’re a person entering the Minnesota craft beer scene or you have a relative in town, or it’s really cold, this place is many taprooms in one,” he says. “It’s a space where you can get a broader picture of Minnesota craft beer, to get an idea of what they’re doing.”
Community Keg House will celebrate their grand opening the weekend of January 15 (see hours below). The following beers will be on tap for opening:
- Boom Island Witness
- Insight Sunken City
- Harriet Dark Abbey
- Schell’s Snowstorm 2015
- Northgate Stronghold
- Summit Winter Ale
- Bauhaus Tallander
- Indeed Stir Crazy
- Surly Furious
- Fair State Pomp Le Moose
- 56 Brewing Polonaise APA
- Able Seedhouse & Brewery First Light
- Grain Belt Nordeast
- Bent Brewstillery Maroon & Bold
- Four Daughters Loon Juice
- Sociable Cider Werks Freehweeler
Visit: 34 13th Ave NE, Minneapolis
Hours: Monday 4pm–12am, Tuesday-Wednesday closed; Thursday 4pm–12am; Friday 4pm–12am; Saturday 1pm–12am; Sunday 1–10pm