On Oct. 31, St. Joseph, Minnesota, will join the growing army of small towns that can claim local beer as an attraction. Bad Habit Brewing, a small-scale, taproom-focused brewery, is set to open on Halloween in the small, close-knit, and artistically minded community just west of St. Cloud.
Head brewer and owner Aaron Rieland has already brewed the first batches on his 5-barrel brewhouse. He plans to have a steady rotation of beers flowing at all times, serving four or five on tap and introducing between 10–15 styles in his first year of business. Rieland says he’s eager to test new recipes on the public and collect feedback from customers. “That’s what I’m excited about,” he says — people trying his beer and sharing their opinions.
Rieland is entering the full-time brewing scene like many others around the state — with a homebrew background. “Garage University, how does that sound?” he laughs. “It’s like cooking—try a little of this, a little of that; that’s the fun part.” For the most part, the beers at Bad Habit will be familiar styles with experimental twists. Rieland’s Farmhouse Saison and Chocolate Milk Stout, two of his favorite recipes, will both be on tap upon opening, in addition to his El Dorado IPA, Red Ale, and non-alcoholic root beer. He also plans to serve a few additional IPAs along the way, all of which will be dependent on the hops he can source come brew time.
With three children at home and his day job at a water treatment company in St. Cloud, Rieland intends to start Bad Habit slowly, opening Fridays and Saturdays only and restricting sales to the taproom (they will sell pints and a limited number of growlers on a first-come, first-served basis). He will explore expanded hours and distribution as the business gets established.
Beyond his beer, Rieland is also excited about his building. After looking at several sites near his home in Avon, he lost motivation. “I nearly threw in the towel,” he says. Then he found his current location: the ground floor of an eight-year-old, mixed-use building, surrounded by businesses on both sides and luxury apartments above. The icing on the cake, though, is the way the space lays out. It’s open and has high ceilings—perfect for brewing. Additionally, a southern wall of floor-to-ceiling windows showcases the street outside and provides natural lighting and a warm atmosphere. Rieland closed on the place on his birthday in mid-March. Seven months later, he’s finally prepping to pour.
Rieland has chosen to keep the taproom space open with half wall separating it from the brewhouse. “You can touch the tanks from the taproom,” he says. This way, the beer is the focus of the space. Atmosphere is important, too, he notes, and often draws a crowd on its own, but ultimately Rieland wants Bad Habit customers to come back because of the beer. “I think keeping it fresh for people is the key thing,” he says. By rotating his selection, the emphasis at Bad Habit will be on the new styles and new experiences they offer for customers on each visit, which he says will hopefully make the brewery a go-to place for beer fans in the small Minnesota town affectionately referred to simply as “St. Joe.”
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Brewer: Aaron Rieland
Beer: Saison, chocolate milk stout, IPA, and rotating selection
Visit: 15 E Minnesota St #108, St Joseph, MN
Hours: Fridays 4–10pm; Saturdays 2–10pm