by Brian Martucci
Northgate Brewing must be doing something right. Barely 12 months after its grand opening, the Northeast stalwart has announced plans to move into a much larger space a few miles from its current California Street location.
The new location, at 783 Harding St NE, has a lot going for it. Tucked into an industrial area near Broadway, it’s large enough to support Northgate’s planned 20-bbl brewhouse and 1,500-square-foot taproom. All told, the space will be ten times larger than the admittedly cramped space that NorthGate has occupied for the past year. That means a lot more elbow room for the new tap room’s patrons—and a lot more space for NorthGate’s equipment, staff and, of course, beer.
In a recent press release, NorthGate founder and co-owner Adam Sjogren sounded positively thrilled about the move. “We’re incredibly excited to announce our new, larger facility,” he said, noting that NorthGate was among the Twin Cities’ smallest breweries when it first opened.
Its small size didn’t stop NorthGate from making a name for itself among discerning drinkers, but rampant demand for its brews appeared to be getting the better of its staff in recent months. More than two dozen restaurants in Minneapolis, Saint Paul and select inner suburbs now carry at least one NorthGate tap selection, and ensuring a stable supply for these loyal clients appears to be a key factor in the brewery’s decision to relocate.
After all, Sjogren’s brewery is about more than B2B keg sales. If they don’t have time to stop for a pint (or two) at Grumpy’s Northeast, Psycho Suzi’s, Republic Seven Corners, or any of the other places that carry its taps, the brewery’s fans can grab growlers for the road. The current location fills growlers on Saturday afternoons, between the hours of 1 pm and 5 pm. It’s also open for two hours on Wednesday evenings, between the hours of 4 pm and 6 pm.
Wait. What’s that, you say? That’s it—four hours on Saturday, and two on Wednesday?
Supply and demand, people. Supply and demand.
The good news is that NorthGate’s new location will be a lot easier to find than its old place. If Google Maps is any guide—and when is it not?—the place is located just a stone’s throw from the corner of Broadway and Harding. It’s just one turn off one of the city’s biggest thoroughfares.
Contrast that with NorthGate’s soon-to-be-former location on California Street. The brewery’s website admits, “we’re a little hard to find,” and the provided directions bear this out. Among the obstacles that stand between intrepid craft beer lovers and their favorite NorthGate growler: a dual-use road that’s frequently blocked by trains, a chain link fence, and a confusing courtyard with several poorly marked businesses. NorthGate’s storefront is located on the far corner of this open space, and it’s notoriously difficult to find in poor light or bad weather.
On the plus side, though, NorthGate asks for a growler deposit of just $5 and charges $12 for a fill of its signature Wall’s End Ale. Seasonals go for a few bucks more, but that’s a small price to pay. No word yet on how much growlers—or pints, praise the beer gods—will cost at the new place.
Speaking of NorthGate’s beers, what can visitors expect at the new facility? At any given time, the brewery distributes two beers: its year-round Wall’s End Ale and a rotating seasonal. Maggie’s Leap Sweet Stout, a malty, coffee-tinged winter warmer, is on tap from December through March; Bliss English Summer Ale, an orange peel-infused creation that was initially brewed for head brewer Tuck Carruthers’s wedding, runs from April through June; and a sessionable English IPA runs from June through August.
It’s not clear if these seasonals will return at the new place, but NorthGate already has definite plans to debut a brand-new brew in a couple of days.
Where and when? On January 27th, at 5 pm, Grumpy’s Northeast—one of NorthGate’s biggest boosters—will host a 1st anniversary bash for the brewery’s employees, friends and customers. The event will double as a release party for NorthGate’s Fiddle Smasher Wee Heavy Ale.
As if it weren’t awesome enough that NorthGate has made it to the one-year mark, the event will be a big deal for another reason—going forward, Fiddle Smasher won’t be available on tap anywhere, including at NorthGate’s new brewhouse.
The good news is that it will be available in bomber form at fine liquor establishments across the Twin Cities. That’s right: NorthGate’s expansion will be the start of a bottling operation that, hopefully, will expose its brews to a much wider audience.
So, let’s recap: Northgate Brewing is expanding into a much larger brewing facility that will include a tap room and allow it to bottle and distribute beer. Not bad for a year’s work, we’d say.