Now Open (Or Damn Close): Sleepy Eye Brewing Company in Sleepy Eye

Flight pours at Sleepy Eye Brewing // Photo courtesy Sleepy Eye Brewing

Now Open (Or Damn Close) is supported by underwriting partner Maltwerks, a Midwest malt house focused on genuine relationships in offering quality, locally produced, traceable malt. 

Some may know the town of Sleepy Eye, Minnesota from the tales of Laura Ingalls Wilder. Others take the scenic drive through the forest of trees decorated for the holidays every winter. But Sleepy Eye is getting an addition on Main Street—an attraction that will give people another reason to enjoy and visit the quaint town. Within the antique shops and salons on Main Street, the old Pix Theater has been renovated into a coffee shop by day and brewery by night.

Sleepy Eye Brewing Company is set to open its doors on Friday, December 27 at 4pm. The five co-owners have high hopes that their brewery will help bring some action back to downtown Sleepy Eye.

The roots of the brewery go back to Adam Armbruster and Judd Walter’s homebrewing days. They spent time brewing in sheds and garages and golfing with their three buddies, Dan Schmid, Blair Folkens, and Adam Fischer—the five of them now make up the owners of Sleepy Eye Brewing Company. From a doctor to a contractor to a couple of finance gurus, the group felt they had the collective knowledge to start a successful business and bring something unique to the brewery-to-be.

Sleepy Eye Brewing’s brew floor in their newly opened brewery// Photo courtesy Sleepy Eye Brewing

The five men talked about upgrading equipment and finding a better space to brew. But the chatter became serious talk about two years ago when Adam and Karyln Armbruster decided to pull the trigger and buy the Pix Theater on Main Street.

“After chatting with some friends and connections at other breweries, we knew we had to take the plunge if we really wanted to do something good for the town of Sleepy Eye,” says Schmid. “Our goal was to create something that could revive downtown.”

After about a year of planning, construction officially began in December of 2018. Sleepy Eye Coffee Company opened in October 2019, introducing the town to the space and giving them a sneak peek into what they would soon get to know as the brewery and taproom.

The bar from above at the new Sleepy Eye Brewing in Sleepy Eye, Minnesota // Photo courtesy Sleepy Eye Brewing

Judd Walter explained that they didn’t start the brewery to make more money or add more to their plates.

“We all have full-time jobs and plan on keeping it that way,” said Walter. “The goal of starting the brewery was never about money or staying busy, it was about bringing something truly special to Main Street.”

In the lead-up to opening day, the team has been working and brewing tirelessly. All five owners assist with brewing with Armbruster and brewer Arron Luebbert taking the lead on recipe creation.

On opening day, December 27, they will have 10 beers on tap, and a new beer will be released at 5pm on December 28—the Luebbert Red Lager. From a coffee stout on nitro to a cream ale to a hazy New England style IPA, they’ll have a large variety to offer their customers.

“We really wanted to open with a bang,” said Walter. “Our goal was to have a large selection of brews.”

They have the ability to add to the selection in the future due to their 12-tap draft tower. In the brewery, they have a 3-barrel brewhouse. Because of their limited and unique space, they needed to make sure they were being efficient with their equipment and set up. They went with stacked fermentors to save room and make the most out of their long and narrow brewing area.

Outside the taproom, the original Pix Theater marquee is accompanied by signs for both the brewery and coffee shop. Inside, the brewery is covered in beautiful exposed brick walls and black and white tile floors. With the main level, area in the back, and balcony, there’s seating for about 100 people.

“Our goal is to produce a wonderful product and atmosphere for our customers,” chimed in Kelly Krzmarzick, Sleepy Eye Brewing’s manager. “The beer is great, the rustic ambiance is unique, and the staff is awesome—we’re all just here to have fun and chat about beer.”

The owners of Sleepy Eye Brewing hope that their presence will help fill some of the empty spaces on Main Street. According to Walter, since throwing a couple of private parties at the brewery and the opening of the coffee shop portion, some of the stores nearby have already noticed higher traffic.

“We really want people to come experience a thriving downtown Sleepy Eye,” said Schmid. “We want this to be a great spot for locals as well as a craft beer destination that people from all over will continue to come to and enjoy.”

Sleepy Eye Brewing’s lofted space in their new taproom in Southwest Minnesota // Photo courtesy Sleepy Eye Brewing

Brewers: Adam Armbruster, Arron Luebbert

Beers: Wide Awake Coffee Stout, Night Shift Porter, Crusin’ Main IPA, Eye Candy Blonde Ale, Crazy Aunt Kolsch, Farm Hand Saison, Peaches & Kareem Ale, Seasonal Disorder Pale Ale, Rippin IPA, Sleepy Eye Cream Ale, Luebbert Lager

Address: 121 Main Street W. Sleepy Eye, MN 56085

Hours: Wed–Fri: 4–11pm; Sat: 11am–11pm; Sun: 11am–4pm

Online: Facebook, Instagram

Opening: December 27, 2019

Maltwerks is a Midwest malt house focused on genuine relationships in offering quality, locally produced, traceable malt. Maltwerks maintains close relationships with local farmers so brewers know exactly what barley was used and the characteristics they can expect. Maltwerks is a partner in globally sourced commodities and carries a wide variety of spices and botanicals for diversity in craft brewing.