The Klockow surname may not have been Andy and Tasha’s first choice for naming their brewery, but given the support and help provided by their family, it’s a good fit. With the construction phase behind them, Klockow Brewing Company, Grand Rapids, Minnesota’s first microbrewery, is set to open on October 28.
When Andy and Tasha relocated from the Twin Cities to Grand Rapids last year with the intent of opening a brewery, they had another name in mind: Cantankerous Brewing. The name was meant as a nod to Tasha’s late grandfather, whom Andy describes as the Jack Lemmon type. They even had a logo designed, and were moving towards trademarking before realizing that Sierra Nevada Brewing Company held the rights to the name, from a stock ale brewed several years back called Old Cantankerous.
After contemplating several other names, they settled on their own, ensuring a trademark and a unique identity.
Even before opening their doors, the reception of Klockow Brewing in the Grand Rapids community has been the exact opposite of cantankerous.
“They haven’t had a drop of our beer, yet they’re 100 percent behind us, it’s amazing,” Andy said of the community’s support.
The Klockows would be hard pressed to find a better city for their brewery—both because Tasha’s extended family in the area are able to lend a hand when needed, and the fact that without a brewery within about a 60-mile radius of the city center (which extends much further to the north and east), it’s one of the last untapped markets in the state.
“We decided that Grand Rapids would be great for a brewery, with the tourism industry in the summer and hockey in the winter,” Tasha said. “It’s also about being closer to family and in a smaller, tight-knit community. A lot of the help that we’ve had has all been family and friends, to help with the baby, and to help make our tables and stuff [for the brewery].”
With assistance from friends and family, the Klockows have succeeded in capturing the spirit of the northwoods in their brewery, located at 36 Southeast 10th Street. The space perfectly exemplifies Grand Rapids’ slogan, “It’s in Minnesota’s nature,” which is displayed on the water tower across the street from the parking lot.
Inside the 132-seat taproom, a full wall mural painted by artist Diamond Knispel depicts the Klockows walking down a woodsy autumn path. On the far end of the wall near the corner music stage, a willow tree—central to the Klockow logo, which Knispel also designed—stands on a river bank. The scene is one that could easily be found along the nearby Mississippi River, which winds through town to the north and northeast.
Reflecting Grand Rapids’ past and present as a timber harvesting hub, Tasha’s relatives made several 40-inch square tables of white pine and custom wood flight paddles shaped like fish. The bar top, made from a single slab of Norway pine cut by a local sawmill, and the wood stage, which was built with help from the local Boreal Brewers homebrewing club, tie the space together.
“They’ve been some of our biggest supporters,” Tasha said of Boreal Brewers. “Everyone wants us to succeed, and they think of it as a community space and something that’ll add to Grand Rapids as a whole.”
Klockow Brewing doesn’t look like your average small town sports bar, and the Klockows want it that way. There are no pool tables, dart boards, or televisions; the only entertainment is live music, board games, and good conversation.
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Photos courtesy of Klockow Brewing
“We want people to bring their family, and we want people to feel welcomed,” said Tasha. “We’re trying to offer something a little different to this community.”
Andy hopes to further grow the brewing operation in the 4,000-square-foot space as the taproom demand calls for it, but for now he is brewing on an eight-and-a-half barrel system and plans to produce around 300 barrels in his first year. In terms of distribution, he’s leaving all his options open, but for now he’ll distribute kegs to a few local establishments.
Andy comes from a traditional brewing background and described his brewing philosophy as “approachability,” although he likes to experiment and get creative with recipes, something he attributes to his previous post at HammerHeart Brewing. On tap for the opening is an Irish Ale, a juicy IPA, a brown ale and a double IPA with Amarillo and Centennial hops.
Once open, the Klockows hope their company will foster a burgeoning craft beer culture in Grand Rapids and the surrounding area. Though it will also be the community that helps develop Klockow, as it has already done well before the first pint is poured.
Brewers: Andy Klockow (head brewer) and Max Chamberlain (assistant brewer)
Beers: Travelin’ Jack, West Coast IPA; Upwind, Irish blonde; BHK, brown ale; Song of Susannah, IIPA; Downwind, chocolate stout; BDK, Irish stout; Owlyn, Celtic pale ale, and Münchkin, late Oktoberfest
Address: 36 SE 10th St, Grand Rapids 55744
Grand Opening: October 28–29, 2017