Many Minnesotans have never been to Delano; even fewer could place it on a map. But this summer, local beer enthusiasts will get acquainted with the small, 5,500-person town on the South Fork of the Crow River, 40 minutes west of the Twin Cities, as two new breweries will open their doors in the historic downtown: South Fork Brewing and Lupine Brewing.
Sara Beamish and Karen Zimmerman are the founders of South Fork Brewing, a seven-barrel brewery and taproom one block from a meandering stretch of the Crow River.
The brewery takes over the 6,000-square-foot building occupied by Beamish’s former business, the Bohemian Wine Bar and Pub, a restaurant specializing in local wine and craft beer that Beamish and her husband, Ken, started in 2013. “It was a place that adults could go to be adults,” says Sara. “People knew that they could come here and they could try wines, they could try craft beers—especially Minnesota craft beers.”
“They knew what they couldn’t get here was any light beers, domestic beers,” Ken chimed in. “We didn’t even have it in bottles—nothing.” Many told the couple they were crazy to open a bar Delano and not to carry any domestic beers, but the gamble paid off; soon The Bohemian welcomed a growing group of craft beer and wine drinkers eager to try new styles.
“As we went along, we really found that our passion wasn’t on the food side of it,” Sara explains. “It was really with the beer.” Knowing there was a community of craft- beer drinkers in town, which The Bohemian had fostered, Sara and longtime Bohemian supporter and nurse Karen Zimmerman decided to transform the restaurant into a microbrewery.
After a year of renovations and the installation of the brewhouse equipment, Sara and Karen are set to open their doors this June as South Fork Brewing Company. Brett Lincoln, an engineer and member of Jack of All Brews homebrewing club, will be at the helm as South Fork’s head brewer.
“I enjoy working with him,” says Ken, who works as Lincoln’s assistant brewer. “I’m also an engineer, so when we’re in [the brewery] together we kind of have the same mindset. It’s pretty awesome to have that cohesion so easily.”
Brett and Ken crafted four beers for the brewery’s opening—an amber, IPA, kölsch, and cream ale infused with fruit—that are in line with beer trends seen in the restaurant. “Going back to The Bohemian, I would always tell our customers that we would be able to find something for anyone,” Sara says, “and to begin with I think we have a good variety.”
With the brewery, Sara and Karen hope to build the sense of community that brought them together in the early days of The Bohemian. And while the journey to opening the brewery has been exciting, it was also marked this March by the tragic passing of Karen’s husband, Neil, who was a driving force in getting the brewery off the ground. For South Fork, it’s a heartbreaking reminder that beer is just beer, but the community formed while sharing a pint will endure long after the glass is empty.
South Fork will open its doors for the first time on Friday, May 29, 4–10pm, and Saturday, May 30, 2–10pm.
Brewers: Brett Lincoln (head brewer) and Ken Beamish (assistant brewer)
Beer: Amber, IPA, kölsch, and cream ale infused with fruit
Visit: 221 2nd St N, Delano, Minnesota
Hours: Fridays 4–10pm, Saturdays 2–10pm