Erin “Mutha Franklin” Hutton fell in love with biergartens while studying in Bavaria. He also fell in love there with a girl from New Prague named Anna Giesen. This is where Giesenbräu Bier Co.’s story begins.
Hutton’s interest in dialects brought him to Germany, where he studied “Niederbayerisch” (Lower Bavarian). However, as graduate school drew to a close, he realized the next step for people in his area of study were become a teacher or professor—neither of which interested him. Luckily, he had spent plenty of time studying Germany’s beer scene in addition to the language.
Friends encouraged Hutton to pursue his love of beer, but he knew he needed to build experience before opening his own biergarten stateside. Hutton and his now-wife, Anna, settled in his home state of Colorado, a place already rich in craft beer. There, Erin studied under Adam Draeger, the head brewer at Colorado Plus Brew Pub in Wheat Ridge, Colorado.
As the Huttons discussed opening the brewery Erin had dreamt of for so long, the couple felt the pull of Anna’s hometown in Minnesota. New Prague still didn’t have its own brewery, and the real estate market was in their favor. And with the Huttons expecting their first child, the timing couldn’t have been better. In July 2016, Anna, Erin, and their two-month-old son made the move back to Minnesota.
It wasn’t long until Erin settled on a location for the Giesenbräu (pronounced GHEE-sen-broy) brewery and biergarten, located just off Main Street in New Prague. The taproom resembles a classic beer hall, with long communal tables and benches. Creating the adjacent biergarten required installing a commercial garage door, building out the patio, and warming it up with charming cafe lights and lattice work. The 10-barrel brewhouse includes three 10-barrel fermenters and one 20-barrel fermenter, all from Alpha Brewing Operations.
Like breweries often do, Giesenbräu quickly became a family affair. Anna Hutton’s brother, Tom Giesen, and his wife, Becka joined the team in the early planning stages. Tom is Erin’s assistant brewer, and Becka serves as the media coordinator and dubbed herself the “assistant to the assistant regional brewer.”
Naming the brewery after the Giesen family was an intentional move on Erin’s part. Not only is the surname close to his German-loving heart, it’s also an established family name in town. Anna and Tom’s father is one of nine children, and his father before him was one of 16. Chances are, if you live in New Prague, you know a Giesen or three.
Imbued with strong local roots, the brewery is sure to attract residents of New Prague when it opens on October 21. Anna explains, “The people around here like to support people who are local. My mom has scolded us before for buying sweet corn at a store when there are farmers around that you can go directly to.” Erin jokingly points out that this was a one-time occurrence; they are now members of a CSA.
Photos by Katelyn Regenscheid
Like the city where they live and brew, the Giesens and Huttons value their local community, including the many young families. The taproom will be kid-friendly; there is a play area inside for children, and there are plans to install an outdoor playground as well. Erin’s vision is to emulate his experience in Germany, where families with young children would bring picnics to their local biergarten and enjoy a Sunday afternoon. For him, a brewery is more than a bar—it’s a space for their neighbors to socialize, play, and enjoy great local beer.
Erin Hutton explains his experience in Germany, “You go into a place, and you get a beer, and you sit down at a table, and by the end of the night you’ve got new friends. We have a few friends in Munich that the only reason we know them is because we were sitting in a biergarten and they sat down at our table.”
This is the philosophy behind Giesenbräu: Bier Together. It’s their version of the German term “gemütlichkeit,” which loosely translates to togetherness, coziness, and friendliness.
Giesenbräu will open with seven beers: The Festbier is similar to a helles-style lager, with a slightly higher alcohol content. The other German-style offering will be Giesenweiss, a hefeweizen. American style offerings are Spaceballs, the Milk Stout; the 31 Hour Pale Ale—named for the brewing marathon Hutton and Giesen completed to satisfy the thirsty drinkers at Dožínky Days; Bavarian Gangsta IPA; Frickin Scruggly IPA—a name inspired by Hutton’s beard; and an Imperial Porter.
Brewer: Erin Hutton (head brewer), Tom Giesen (assistant brewer)
Beer: Festbier, Giesenweiss Hefeweizen, Spaceballs the Milk Stout, 31 Hour Pale Ale, Bavarian Gangsta IPA, Frickin Scruggly IPA, Imperial Porter
Address: 1306 First Street NE, New Prague, MN 56071
Hours: Mon–Thu: 3–9pm; Fri–Sat: 12–10pm; Sun: 12–6pm
Grand Opening: October 21, 2017 at noon