Now Open: Barley John’s Brewing Company

Unfilled cans of the four flagship beers from Barley John's Brewing Company // Photo courtesy of Barley John's

Unfilled cans of the four flagship beers from Barley John’s Brewing Company // Photo courtesy of Barley John’s

Growth is an integral part of any business, and beer is no exception. Due to state laws governing brewpubs, opportunity to grow Barley John’s Brew Pub in New Brighton, Minnesota, was limited, so owner John Moore decided to hop the state border and open a production brewery in New Richmond, Wisconsin.

Located about 35 miles east of St. Paul on an industrial trail near 45th Parallel Distillery, Barley John’s Brewing Company officially opened in late October. The new brewery allows Moore to reach a new audience in a new state, as well as gives him the opportunity to partner with 45th Parallel for barrel-aged beers. (He already has barrel requests submitted and batches of Dark Knight aging.) Cans and kegs of Barley John’s beer are also be hitting stores, restaurants, and bars in Minnesota.

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Barley John’s Brewing Company // Photo courtesy of Barley John’s

“The main purpose of the brewery was to be a production brewery, with the cans and kegs first to build demand for the taproom,” Moore says of his second (and legally separate) business. But unexpected hiccups forced Moore to adjust his game plan. It seems even 15 years’ experience in the industry can’t guard against some troubles.

The biggest hurdle Moore faced was when his can supplier pulled out at the last minute due to overbooking. He was able to find a new can reserve for his 16-ounce tallboys, but the short termination notice from the supplier led to Moore having to use plastic sleeve wraps for the cans instead of printed labels. More significantly, the curveball changed Moore’s original plan from using cans to build momentum for the brewery to focusing more on keg accounts and the taproom.

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Barley John’s tap handles // Photo courtesy of Barley John’s

“It’s a warm, cozy place,” Moore says of the building. “It’s less industrial than you see here in Minneapolis,” he notes, citing the taproom’s welcoming front room that features a real fireplace. The design is intended to mimic the feel of a machine shop or comparable business, with a nod to the Prohibition era. The long front bar resembles a service counter where in a more discrete time, perhaps, a farmer could swing by and ask the clerk to fix their machinery while delivering a “special bag of bolts,” aka bootleg beer.

The new Barley John’s taproom features several familiar beers from the brewpub, as well as others that are unique to head brewer Bob McKenzie (formerly of Third Street Brewhouse, Rock Bottom, and more). There is also an outdoor patio and a small kitchen serving snacks like meat and cheese plates and artichoke dip.

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Barley John’s taproom // Photo courtesy of Barley John’s

The brewery, as emphasized by Moore, is distinct from the brew pub, despite the shared name and main beer lineup (Little Barley Bitter, Wild Brunette, and Old 8 Porter are regular features at both establishments). The brewpub’s Stockyard IPA had to be renamed 6 Knot for retail, due to another Stockyard beer already being sold on shelves, and McKenzie and Moore have had to slightly alter a few recipes because of brewery efficiency and water chemistry differences. The key difference between the two locations is that seasonals and one-offs will be different at each business, brewed at the whim of the head brewer. “They do whatever they want,” Moore says, noting the unique Rye IPA that’s already for sale in Wisconsin.

Most of all, the New Richmond brewery opens the door to future growth of the Barley John’s brand.

Brewer: Bob McKenzie

Beer: Little Barley Bitter, Wild Brunette Wild Rice Brown Ale, Old 8 Porter, 6 Knot IPA, and rotating seasonals

Visit: 1280 Madison Ave, New Richmond, WI

Hours: Thus 4–9pm, Fri 3–10pm, Sat 1–10pm, Sun 1–8pm

Online: Website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram


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