Now Open (Or Damn Close): ONE Fermentary & Taproom in Minneapolis

ONE will open with not only house-brewed beers, but brewery collaborations and an array of non-beer beverages // Photo by Tj Turner

Since its conception, ONE Fermentary & Taproom has been out to break the mold.

Initially, ONE was planning to open a brewery without a brewhouse. Instead, the brewpub would only be outfitted with a variety of fermentation vessels and partner with other breweries to mash, boil, and ship them wort—the sugar water a brewery ferments with yeast to make beer. ONE’s brewing team would ferment the wort to showcase the distinct flavors the fermentation process adds to a beer. While the brewpub, which opens to the public on November 16, has altered the game plan somewhat by purchasing their own 10-barrel brewhouse to allow them to make wort in-house, the collaborations and experimentation in fermentation remain solidly at the forefront of ONE’s philosophy.

“Though we had a bunch of eager and willing friends in the industry to help us with wort, the logistics with moving all of your wort every day just became too much to bear,” says Joseph Alton, co-founder of ONE and the former editor-in-chief of The Growler. “So, we added a brewhouse of our own. But we intend on doing fun things with moving our wort.”

Ramsey Louder, co-owner and head brewer at ONE // Photo by Tj Turner

For example: Surly Brewing Co. Helles. ONE will get Helles wort from Surly and ONE’s head brewer and co-founder Ramsey Louder will ferment half in an oak foeder, the other half in a concrete egg fermentor, then serve them side-by-side at the bar to show patrons how fermenting in a different setting can alter a beer’s characteristic. Louder is a former brewer at Dangerous Man Brewing Co. and recently a cellarman at New Holland Brewing in Michigan.

While there will be much experimentation, the variety in the beers on tap at ONE will come in more traditional styles, though too. “From a menu standpoint, Ramsey will offer a number of flagship beers; right off the bat, we will have a Bohemian Pilsner, an amber, a hazy IPA, a pale ale, and a dry stout,” says ONE’s third co-owner and president, Sally Schmidt, a marketing consultant to law firms.

ONE Fermentary’s fresh new space in Minneapolis’ North Loop // Photo by Tj Turner

The very nature of being a brewpub is another way that ONE is seeking to differentiate itself. While three out of four breweries that have opened in Minnesota since April 2015 have done so under the production brewery license, which allows a brewery to distribute its beer to retailers outside the taproom, ONE’s team joins a growing number of brewery start-ups that has chosen to forgo distribution in favor of the flexibility afforded to brewpubs to offer other beverages than beer in their space.

“We have some collabs that will be available immediately, including some great beers made with Bad Weather, Rush River, and The Lab. Tattersall created custom cocktails for us that will be poured from a tap and we will have wines on tap sourced through the Libation Project,” says Schmidt. “Last, but certainly not least, our food menu has been developed by Alex Roberts, of Alma and Brasa fame.”

“In terms of what we make generally, the beauty of the brewpub scene is it gives Ramsey the freedom to make what he wants to make,” Alton says. Being allowed to sell guest beers means Louder can engross himself in a niche project and ONE can complement his experimental offerings with classic styles made by other brewers.

ONE Fermentary’s brew floor with its various fermentation vessels offer plenty of creative freedom for Ramsey Louder  // Photo by Tj Turner

All of this works to forward ONE’s larger mission of drawing in a diverse crowd. “Most important to us, we want [ONE] to be a place where everyone feels welcome,” explains Schmidt. “Our goal is to have our beer, people, and space be welcoming and approachable.”

But, Alton points out, “The nature of getting people from different ages, genders, non-binary identities, economic background—having all those people in one space is difficult because most of those people think of beer as a space for white dudes.”

While inroads are being made, reports by the Brewers Association shows craft beer drinkers and the craft beer industry are disproportionately white and male. It’s a reality that Louder is well aware of through personal experience.

“I don’t want to be the only black dude making beer in Minnesota. I don’t want to be the only one, and so far, it’s been the only experience [I’ve had] and it’s exhausting.”

Louder will be the first black man to co-own a brewery in Minneapolis (the second black man to have a major share in a brewery in Minnesota) when ONE opens on November 16. While he thinks about the dynamics of the brewing scene pertaining to race—as does the entire ONE team—he knows that change can only be achieved through action. Louder mentions how hiring people who understand the mission of ONE or even having a mural created by a person of color is important to creating an environment that invites different communities inside.

With two sets of tap lines and plenty of seating, ONE Fermentary & Taproom is prepped and ready to open on November 16// Photo by Tj Turner

But ONE is also going to create opportunities to engage more directly on the topic, too. The first step on that front is a panel. People of color from across the nation and locally will be at ONE on November 15 for a panel discussion hosted by Brewing Change Collaborative called “Diversity in Craft, Making it Intentional.”

Through these efforts, they hope to make ONE a place for everybody.

“Hopefully, we can stay humble and keep that as our core goal no matter what,” Louder said of focusing on diversity and inclusion.

The name ONE will be a constant reminder of the things the trio is aiming to accomplish with the brewery.

“One: it goes back to the idea of breweries can be a little bit divisive in terms of a group of friends and family going out to get a beverage to enjoy,” Alton said. “We want to be one place for everybody. One place anyone can get something to drink, and that all people can feel comfortable being at. It’s our guiding principle.”

ONE Fermentary with fixtures from Hennepin Made, a table from the old Schmidt Brewery, and custom murals opens Saturday // Photo by Tj Turner

Brewer: Ramsey Louder

House Beers: And, We’ll See You Tomorrow Night Bohemian Pilsener; Little Help Pale Ale (Nitro); Tally-Ho! Dry Stout; Unexpected Delays Amber; Busted Chain Brown Ale; Hugs N’ High Fives NE IPA

Collabs: Eau de Vie Imperial Blond Ale (brewed with Rush River), Rising Hope American IPA (brewed with Country Malt Group and The Lab), Wry Logger Rye Lager (brewed with Bad Weather Brewing Company)

Address: 618 N 5th St, Minneapolis, MN 55401

Hours: Mon–Thu: 12pm–10pm; Fri: 12pm-11pm; Sun: 10am–10pm

Online: Website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram

Opening: November 16, 2019