Name a Twin Cities sporting venue, and there’s bound to be a taproom within a few blocks. Taprooms are places for fans, regardless of team affiliation, to come together as a community.
Despite most major sports facilities sporting at least one nearby taproom, the most highly trafficked venue in Minnesota—Blaine’s National Sports Complex (NSC)—doesn’t even have a brewery in the same town, much less down the street. Until now.
On May 22, Previn Solberg, Blaine resident and homebrewer, is opening Invictus Brewing Company right across the street from the sports complex, which gets more than 3.8 million visitors a year. True to the Invictus name, his vision is to provide a place for people of all different backgrounds to come together and celebrate the unconquerable human spirit.
The Invictus facility merges global conscience with local details, setting the stage for global visitors and local residents to share pints as one craft beer loving community.
Built with a commitment to reducing impact on climate change, the structure is designed to reduce energy use. The shell of the building is Structurally Insulated Panel (SIP), making it extremely energy efficient. “With the ambient heat that the brewing system and kitchen create, we will hardly ever have to heat the place,” says Solberg. The roof design will reduce Invictus’ carbon footprint even further. “We can fit about 55 kilowatts of solar on the south part of our roof, and that’s what our long-term plan is,” he explains.
On top of structural specifics, the interior architecture of Invictus is infused with uniquely Midwestern details. Upcycled barn wood paneling enhances the walls, and a deconstructed grain-silo adds historic flourish to the bathroom ceilings. Taken right off a farm owned by Solberg’s relatives in Reeder, North Dakota, these details make the brewery feel more down-home and approachable. Hundred-year-old cedar logs, hauled from an old logging river near the family cabin close by Grand Rapids, will be transformed into tables and ceiling cross beams.
Located within the brewery building, the separately owned and managed kitchen named The Tipsy Steer will serve woodfire pizza, burgers, and small plates for taproom visitors. In the brewhouse, head brewer Bradley Zimmerman brings 12 years of experience in professional brewing, spanning from Seattle to Indianapolis.
Zimmerman got his start as assistant brewer at Seattle’s Elysian Brewing in 2006, followed by a three-year term at Seattle’s Big Time Brewing that yielded a 2011 GABF Bronze Medal in the English Pale category. He has gone on to serve as the founding head brewer for three startup breweries. That makes Invictus his fourth venture in getting a brewery off the ground, and Zimmerman says so far, it’s been the easiest process of them all.
“That’s good to hear,” Solberg says with a laugh. “I don’t think I would have said I knew this was going to happen until the shovel went in the ground.” Solberg had his share of unexpected delays in the development process, but never stopped moving forward toward realizing his vision for the brewery.
Solberg hopes the beer will appeal to a broad range of people, with a caveat. “I won’t say we’re going to try to appeal to everyone, because we won’t,” he says. “There’s certain things that everybody might want but we’re just not willing to do with our beer.”
“Like glitter or anything shandy,” adds Zimmerman. He says their strongest style categories will be IPAs and saisons. “We’ll have several different varieties within the [IPA] style,” says Zimmerman. As for saisons, he hints that Invictus may eventually feature a saison for every season.
Those interested in tasting the beer within the next few seasons will have to make the pilgrimage to Blaine. While distribution has been discussed for Invictus’ beer, the taproom is the sole focus of the brewery team for now.
“We’re thinking about the future, but we have to make sure we know what we’re doing in the taproom first,” says Solberg. He explains that if the taproom is successful, the business will be successful—both in achieving its financial goals and in achieving its vision for Blaine.
“What I want to share is community,” says Solberg. “A sense of belonging for everybody, regardless of who you are.”
Brewer: Bradley Zimmerman
Beers: IPA, Amber, Porter, Blonde Ale
Address: 2025 105th Avenue Northeast, Blaine, MN 55449
Hours: Mon–Tue: 4pm–11pm; Wed–Thu: 11am–11pm; Fri: 11am–12am; Sat: 10am–12am; Sun: 10am–10pm
Grand opening: May 22, 2018
Correction [2pm, 05/15/2018]: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated that Invictus Brewing is the first brewery in Anoka County. Invictus isn’t the first in the county, but rather the town of Blaine.