Casey Holley is a Minnesota native, but it took moving to northern California for him to fully appreciate the agricultural bounty of the Upper Midwest. Living in Lodi, just 40 minutes south of Sacramento, he saw firsthand how community and agriculture could come together. There, it was all about the grapes, but Holley felt he could bring the terroir concept to Minnesota. “It was that sense of pride in their location and what they were doing,” he says. “It was inspiring to see a community support that whole thing.”
So, he thought: What does Minnesota do best? His answer—small grains.
From this seed of an idea, the concept for Able Seedhouse & Brewery began to take root. Holley teamed up with three partners and began putting together a plan for a Minneapolis brewery that showcases local grains. Able will not only make craft beer, but will also malt locally-sourced grains in-house. Working with Minnesota & Wisconsin barley farmers, they’ll have access to new grains, be able to test works and what doesn’t, and sell extra supplies to other breweries, as well as to local bakeries, food production companies, and others who may have a need.
Four years into planning, the dream will finally becoming reality when Able opens for the first time on Nov. 6. Able’s head brewer Bobby Blasey recently brewed their first batches and all four tanks are fermenting. All that’s left are final inspections.
After all his hard work, Holley says he’s both anxious and excited about opening. “Our focus recently has shifted toward ‘let’s open,’” he says. His current to-do list reflects this mentality and includes ordering T-shirts, setting taproom work shifts, and scheduling remaining visits from regulators. The malting equipment is ordered and will be installed before the taproom opens alongside the steeping tank that’s already in place.
The beers available upon Able’s opening will be made using commercial malts. The company’s in-house malts will first appear in Able’s seasonal offerings once they’ve tested the new malting equipment. Holley couldn’t be more excited for that day to come. He just got news from one of his farmers: the 2015 barley crop is better than expected.
The brewery is located in the Highlight Center at 1121 Quincy St NE in Northeast Minneapolis, formerly the administrative headquarters for Minneapolis schools. Surrounded by new office space and ample parking, their space was once a garage for maintenance vehicles. Other than the yellow parking stripes still visible on the floors, no one would recognize the room from its humble beginnings. The Able crew has transformed it into a sleek, open, and modern taproom space. “We wanted to contrast industrial with softer elements and material,” Holley says, “to bring warmth to a place that feels cold.” Local artists designed tables and the bar, a step by Able to cultivate a relationship with their neighbors in Logan Park and Northeast Minneapolis.
“I think the people who have lived in Logan Park the longest have the most concern for what we’re doing,” he says. He stresses that Able isn’t just another brewery jumping on the local beer bandwagon; they truly want to add to the community. “The success of Able will depend on how well we’re able to communicate our message,” Holley says.
He adds that he’s well aware that Able’s proximity to 612Brew, Bauhaus, Indeed, and Sociable may spark some questions about what they’ll add to the scene, but through their focus on sourcing local grains, creating new beers with new malts, and offering a brewery with a truly agricultural focus, Holley believes Able will be able to prove itself as a unique, important addition to the Minnesota craft beer community. “We feel we can really add to the Northeast Brewer’s District in a meaningful way,” he says.
Able will launch with four beers and room for up to 16 varieties in total. They expect their first house-malted beer to be a fall seasonal. Once open, they hope to distribute to a small ring of nearby bars and restaurants.
Brewer: Bobby Blasey
Beer: IPA, session stout (3.8%), American red ale, wheat pale ale
Visit: 1121 Quincy St NE, Minneapolis
Hours: TBD, opening Nov. 6