The story of Unmapped Brewing Co., Minnetonka’s first taproom and only current brewery, is one of venturing into the unknown.
Thematically, the outdoors is at the heart of Unmapped, where a mural of an unsettled Twin Cities geography will decorate the west wall of the brewery. Outside, bike racks and a bit of green space invite cyclists traveling the Lake Minnetonka and Minnesota River Bluffs bike trails to stop for a respite. Inside, the track lighting is arranged in the shapes of various constellations.
The brewery is also uncharted territory for its founders, the husband-and-wife team of JD and Megan Park. Megan had an entrepreneurial bug, which her homebrewing husband JD caught as the two were dating. The couple shared a love of Minnetonka, Megan’s hometown, which led to the brewery being established in the former Kraemer’s True Value Hardware store in a strip mall at the intersection of Excelsior Boulevard and Eden Prairie Road.
For the Parks, bringing their passion for brewing to life is a key part of the business venture, but connecting with their Minnetonka neighbors is equally important. “Part of what we want to do with the brewery is [create] a community gathering space because there are so many families in the ‘burbs who want a place to come and hang out,” says Megan, who handles hiring and financial duties at the company. JD created several of the recipes in his homebrew days, but he’s now focusing his efforts on sales and operations. Brewing operations are lead by Derek Allmendinger, who worked at Excelsior Brewing most recently, and has also brewed for Surly, Schell’s, and Summit.
“From the very first meeting, our philosophies on brewing—what we wanted the beers to be, and the right way to make it—it clicked,” Almendinger says. “[JD] felt the same way about the importance of quality. And the Belgian beer connection was apparent from the beginning.”
Unmapped is foremost an American craft brewery, and they plan to feature different styles on their 12 tap lines. However, JD had several traditional Belgian recipes developed and he’d like to see those grow into core beers for the start-up.
“It’s part of our identity, but it’s not all we’re going to do either. Derek and I are both pretty big hopheads,” JD says. There will be the Belgian-style beers on tap, he says, and “an extremely hoppy American IPA” too. The team has no limits on style, whether that means kettle sours, barrel-aged beers or any other variety in the future.
Allmendinger leaned on lessons from his past brewing experience to build out the brewhouse—a 20-barrel system with four 40-barrel fermenters from Deutsche Beverage. “One of the great things Deutsche offers,” Allmendinger explains, is customization. He requested made to order equipment with larger ports, additional temperature probes and other details he’s learned the importance of through years in the industry. He’s also excited about the lab Unmapped has developed to monitor quality.
With their opening scheduled for June 17, Unmapped will fulfill the Parks’ dream of running their own business. For Allmendinger, it’s putting his experience to work at a new project he helped build from the ground up. And, for the residents of Minnetonka, it’s a place in town to get a locally brewed pint, relax, and to escape to Unmapped’s version of the great outdoors.
Brewer: Derek Allmendinger
Beer: Topo Wit (Witbier); Saison Amelie (Saison/Farmhouse); Disorientation (Belgian Tripel); Quadruplication (Belgian Quadrupel); No Trace (IPA)
Address: 14625 Excelsior Boulevard, Minnetonka, MN 55345
Hours: Mon–Thurs, 3–10pm; Fri–Sat, 12–11pm; Sun 12–8pm