Whenever the Jacobs family gets together, it’s inevitable that the occasion will be marked by a batch of Tristan Kusnierek’s homebrew. The tradition started when Dan Jacobs’ cousin married Kusnierek, an avid homebrewer since 1992. Despite a homebrewing hiatus during a period of apartment dwelling in the late ‘90s, brewing was a major part of Kusnierek’s life for 20 years before the idea for a brewery was on the drawing board. Now, he is the literal face of the company—the caricatured bald man featured on the logo of Bald Man Brewing, set to open in Eagan on August 27.
It’s a familiar story: Kusnierek moved to all-grain brews, kegging, and, ultimately, studying the craft at American Brewers Guild in Vermont. “It was just a folly at the time,” he says, but it led to an internship at Lift Bridge and connections on the technical side of the brewing industry. When it came to the business side of things, he turned to Dan Jacobs.
“I’ve started a few companies in my career,” says Jacobs, who has a background in consumer products. A career change about one year ago allowed Jacobs and Kusnierek to talk seriously about starting their own brewery where Kusnierek could share the recipes he’s been bringing to family gatherings for years. “You run the business, I’ll be the brewer,” said Kusnierek. “Our skills complement one another.”
Family is integral at Bald Man, from the taproom managed by Natalie, Jacobs’ daughter, to the mural created by his other daughter Andrea. Jacobs also has three sons, all under 21 and currently not involved in the brewery.
The taproom, located at Silver Bell Business Center in Eagan, has a open floor plan. Visitors enter to a spacious bar with multiple ordering stations. Across the room is a short partition separating patron from brewery equipment: a two-vessel JVNW brewhouse made in the United States, with five 40-barrel fermenters and a brite tank (similar to but smaller than the one used at Excelsior Brewing). Through the distressed wood doors behind the bar is an events room, and the patio is in development and will be fenced off from neighbors behind the taproom. The taproom will be family-friendly with board games for all ages and outdoor games like bags on the back patio.
Pending City Council’s liquor license approval, We will be opening our doors AUGUST 27th at 11am!!! pic.twitter.com/qjBiNMuCqB
— Bald Man Brewing (@BaldManBrewing) August 12, 2016
Bald Man will be vibrant and a touch loud, says Jacobs, noting the team’s affinity for classic rock. Music is at the core of the brand, and eventually Bald Man will build a stage after testing acoustics in the brewery. Beers, like Tupelo Honey Brown Ale named for the Van Morrison album, will reference some of their favorite classic rock icons. “The music will probably be a little louder than most places,” Jacobs says. “We want to make a cool place to come and hang out with the community.”
While the music will be an obvious part of their brand, Jacobs says, production is the focus.
“The open concept to the brewery is to have a zoo: to show people, while they’re drinking our beer, how our beer is made,” he explains. Bald Man will open with their beer available on-site only, with the eventual plan to distribute to area bars and restaurants, and exploring bomber packaging later on.
Kusnierek has been a longtime resident of the south metro, and he is certain that Eagan is ready for its first brewery. “The biggest thing about people who live south of the river is they don’t like to cross the river,” Kusnierek says, including himself in the generalization. “Everybody wants something down here.” The City of Eagan helped clear the way for the brewery by voting to rezone their building, just across the street from Twin Cities Premium Outlets mall. With the combined populations of Eagan’s residents and the commuters coming to town for work, Bald Man sees a land of opportunity.
Kegging our 1st official batch of beer was a success! “Calibration Day’ Mosaic IPA is in the cooler for opening day! pic.twitter.com/joXpmBF6E4
— Bald Man Brewing (@BaldManBrewing) August 16, 2016
Jacobs says Bald Man’s beers are accessible, distinct, and consistent across the spectrum. “A lot of the time you get unique but it’s not drinkable,” Jacobs says about the wider beer scene. At Bald Man Brewing, explains Kusnierek, “Our philosophy is really delicious beer that you can pour more than one of.”
Brewer: Tristan Kusnierek
Beer: Honey Brown Ale, APA, IPA, Blonde, Porter, Oktoberfest (seasonal)
Visit: 2020 Silver Bell Road, Suite #28, Eagan, MN (click for map)
Hours: Tuesday–Thursday 3pm–10; Friday–Saturday 11am–12am; Sunday 11am–8 pm