Over 20 years ago, a wife bought her husband his first Mr. Beer kit. This is the story of so many Christmases and birthdays and special occasions. But for Mike and Jennifer Campbell, that simple gift sparked a decades-long dream: a dream that is finally coming to fruition in a taproom in Brooklyn Park.
Jennifer bought into the dream of opening a brewery as soon as her husband did 14 years ago. She remembers, “I saw very early on his ability to understand and brew really good beers but also his ability to teach others. I really supported him in finding his way in this industry and asked him to go find a job that supported his passion and his interests.”
Mike’s initial dreams of working in craft beer took shape in 2003—back when Summit was the only brewery in town, which meant employment opportunities were sparse. He took up a job in a homebrew shop, where he worked for nine years.
During his tenure at Midwest Homebrewing Supplies, Mike took on the role of an instructor. “If you placed an order they’d send you a video on how to brew, and I was the guy in that video,” he says.
Teaching extended beyond Mike’s day job; he and Jennifer hosted get-togethers at their house to teach people about different beer styles and encourage them to try something new. Gatherings like this were just the beginning for Mike. At the time, he did not know how his dream would come to fruition, yet he followed his intuition to teach people about quality beer. His strategy for sharing beer then holds true for him today: “It’s about quality, but it’s also making things that people want to drink.”
And now, Blue Wolf Brewing will open after 14 years of planning and pivoting. This specific location took 11 months of lease negotiations and construction. The final result will be a 1,700-square-foot, 74-seat taproom opening on February 22. Mike’s love of passing on his brewing knowledge informed the intimate size of the Blue Wolf taproom. “I still love teaching this stuff! I hope that with people being so close [to the brewhouse] I can show them more about the equipment or the styles of beer they’re drinking. It’s more than just ‘X percent’ alcohol or so many IBUs.”
Jennifer will serve as president and majority owner of the company, with her husband Mike as head brewer and co-owner. The team brought on Mark Krings as a co-owner, assistant brewer and jack-of-all-trades.
The owners hope the taproom will feel like a comfortable neighborhood bar, “Where you walk in and they yell, ‘Norm!’” explains Campbell. “We are trying to make this a place where everyone feels like family—except that we all get along. We want to get to know our guests and plan on talking with them as much as possible. We are going to do our best to remember their names and what their favorite beer is, so we can have it ready for them as they walk in the door. One of the owners will always be serving or bartending.”
The neighboring restaurant, Broadway Pizza, will deliver food to the taproom, and live musicians will entertain guests. Campbell comments, “We’ll hopefully bring a different vibe to this area. It’s a nice area; it’s just been a little stagnant over the years.” The city of Brooklyn Park is notedly void of craft beer bars and taprooms.
Campbell hopes the beer will add to the aura of comfort and familiarity. Eight taps will pour Blue Wolf’s beers, which will be approachable and maltier recipes founded in English and German traditions, to a community that is still exploring their craft beer tastes. Campbell describes one of his staples, a rye ale: “It’s my answer to those that drink a Bud or a Miller. It’s my version to make an approachable, easy-drinking beer.”
While the tap selection may fly in the face of current hop trends, Campbell plans to be anything but boring. He comments, “I’m a traditional brewer but I won’t necessarily stay conventional. We’re going to have some fun!”
Brewers: Mike Campbell (head brewer), Mark Krings (assistant brewer)
Beers: Wolf Spirit IPA, Wolf Cry Rye Ale, and Wolf Bite American Bitter
Address: 8515 Edinburgh Centre Drive, Brooklyn Park, Minnesota 55443
Hours: Thu & Fri: 3–11pm; Sat & Sun: 11am–11pm