UPDATE: Beaver Island Brewing opened the doors to its taproom on February 21st at 4pm.
It seems just a short few months ago that Beaver Island Brewing announced they would soon be opening a new brewery in St. Cloud, Minnesota—because in fact it was just a few months ago. What these days seems an improbable task of opening a brewery in the span of ten months was accomplished by founders Matt Studer and Nick Barth in the former Bo Diddley’s Deli and Pickard Motor Co. auto shop.
One thing is certain about St. Cloud natives Barth and Studer—they aren’t afraid of a challenge. They started homebrewing together in January 2013 and began the process of opening Beaver Island Brewing in March 2014. They approached St. Cloud brewing veteran Chris Laumb with the opportunity to be Beaver Island’s head brewer in April, and demolition on the space began in June. On January 24, 2015, Beaver Island launched their beer for the first time at the Pickled Loon.
Barth, an area entrepreneur and sommelier, was already a recognizable figure in St. Cloud as a co-owner and operator of The Wine Shop, Nick’s Third Floor at D.B. Searles, The Veranda Lounge, and The Pioneer Place On Fifth. In opening the brewery Barth sold his ownership stake in those businesses in accordance with state law.
Matt Studer also had his pulse on the scene in St. Cloud before starting Beaver Island working as a commercial realtor—a position that came in handy when searching for the perfect location to build the brewery.
The building they chose was built in 1939, the same year St. Cloud Brewing Company closed and will house their 15 bbl brewhouse as well as a 70-person taproom Barth describes as “salvaged contemporary.” Taproom tables are made of lanes from a local bowling alley, and the bar will feature a 1950s Graco lube table from the old auto shop. Most of the brewing equipment was built by St. Cloud-based DCI Inc., a conscious decision by the Beaver Island team to support the local economy.
Chris Laumb leads brewing operations as Beaver Island’s head brewer, a position he held at the former O’Hara’s Brew Pub & Restaurant and McCann’s Food & Brew before becoming a technical brewer at Third Street Brewhouse. Assisted by Studer and Barth, Laumb will roll out Beaver Island’s line of beers including a kölsch, red IPA, winter ale, double IPA, and altbier featuring Spalt hops from St. Cloud’s sister city in Germany. They will continue to release rotating seasonals to meet the tastes of the city’s growing craft drinking community. “We’re so young and we’re small enough that we can turn on a dime,” explained Barth.
Barth also stated their intention to make sustainability a centerpiece of the brewery. “Our goal is to one day be carbon neutral.” Beyond brewing beer, Beaver Island Brewing plans to give back to the community by coordinating cleanups of the river and the Beaver Islands named by Zebulon Pike on his 1805 expedition up the Mississippi River.
“We are truly a brewery for the community,” said Barth. “We are so excited to be making beer in St. Cloud.”
Brewer: Chris Laumb
Beer: Red IPA, Kölsch, Winter Ale, Double IPA, Spalt Alt, and rotating seasonals
Visit: 216 Sixth Ave. S., St. Cloud, MN