Looking at a map of Minnesota’s breweries, there’s a significant gap in the Hutchinson area. For 29 miles, there’s not a brewery to be found. For the last four years, Dan Hart and Lane Wanous worked to change that. And on May 23, Bobbing Bobber Brewing Company will finally open its doors in Hutchinson.
The taproom is located on Main Street, just north of the Hutchinson Event Center. You can recognize it by their sign out front—an iconic red and white round bobber. Dan Hart, president of the company, came up with the name for his would-be brewery years ago on, appropriately, the lake.
“I’m not a very good fisherman, but my brother-in-law is,” Hart says. “I’ll sit on the boat, drinking my homebrew, and realize all day I’ve just watched my bobber bob. If I can’t get a fish to bite, at least I’ll always be able to set the hook on a nice good homebrew.” These days, Hart is upgrading his homemade boat beverages with beer made by Bobbing Bobber’s head brewer, Lane Wanous.
Bobbing Bobber is located in the town’s old Coca-Cola bottling plant. Over the course of four years, Hart and Wanous had several properties fall through the cracks before they landed the 7,550-square-foot industrial building. Hart recognized the location as ideal for a brewery and brought the building’s owner Mark Schierman on as the company’s third partner. With a location secured, Hart, Wanous, and Schierman spent the following eight months entirely converting the old building into a presentable brewery.
“When we moved in here, it needed a complete facelift. There were seven layers of flooring, and we ground them down to the original Coke red,” Hart says. From there, the trio turned the old factory into a relaxing fisherman’s haven with the help of family and friends. Porta-Docks serve as taproom tables, tap handles are fish laser-cut by high school students in the Tiger Manufacturing program at Hutchinson High School, and the bar resembles the stern of a boat, bearing the name “Empty Pockets,” pulling into a boathouse.
As much as the trio looks forward to enjoying a beer in their taproom (or on the fishing boat), they are just as excited to become a part of the Hutchinson community, from supporting the high school trades programs to hosting the city’s pre- and post-parade party in their parking lot this summer. “We’re not in it to become big rich beer pigs. We want to bring a good product to the community and be a good part of the community,” states Hart.
Just as the people of Hutchinson supported Bobbing Bobber along the way, the local beer community is a strong contributor to their startup as well. Hart first started working in the craft beer industry on Excelsior Brewing Company’s bottling line, and they’ve supported his efforts to open his own place. Other area breweries, Spilled Grain and Lupine, also lent a hand along the journey by way of sharing knowledge on equipment and budgeting. “It’s like a brotherhood,” says Wanous. He hopes to reciprocate the friendly support after they open, including sharing some of his own steel welding skills as necessary.
After years of preparation, the founders are more than ready to welcome the community in for a pint over Memorial Day weekend. And the people of Hutchinson are more than ready to get their first taste of Bobbing Bobber Brewing Company—or 3BC, according to Hart. If you’re getting tongue-tied over the name, just ask the locals how to get to The Bobber; they’ll point you to the beer.
Brewer: Lane Wanous
Beers: Kölsch, Cream Ale, Cream Ale on cold press, Honey Wheat with orange blossom honey, Honey Wheat on raspberries, Citra Pale Ale, Gose, American Red, Chinook IPA, Porter, Salted Brown Ale
Address: 900 MN Highway 15 South, Hutchinson, MN 55350
Hours: Wed & Thu: 4pm–10pm; Fri: 2pm–11pm; Sat: 12pm–11pm; Sun: 12pm–6pm
Opening: May 23, 2018