For the founders of Stacked Deck Brewing Company, opening the taproom doors in downtown St. Paul has been a long time coming. Andy Erickson, Brad Randall, Scott Wege, and Ryan Keihn secured the space three years ago, began brewing 12 years ago, and have been in love with St. Paul their whole lives.
All of that history and all of that practice has helped them create a brewery they believe will be truly great.
The brewery is located in the Treasure Island Center in downtown St. Paul. The most notable tenant of the building is Tria Rink, the new home of Minnesota Wild practices, Hamline University and Minnesota Whitecaps games, and plenty of youth hockey events. And it won’t merely be convenient for fans to grab a beer before or after a hockey game—Stacked Deck will actually stream whatever is occurring on the ice to TV screens in the barroom.
Connecting with the hockey community was never a main goal for the founders, but they aren’t complaining. Brad says they all love hockey and grew up playing it, and as Andy states, “we know hockey and beer go hand in hand.”
And that’s not the only exciting part of the space. The Treasure Island Center was once a Dayton’s department store. All three founders remember visiting it as children, so they decided to keep some original elements. “Both my mom and grandma teared up when they saw the floor,” says Andy.
Even without such a great space, the founders feel like they’re in the right location. As Brad tells it, “We were all born in St. Paul. We’re St. Paul natives. We love St. Paul. We love Minneapolis too, but when we decided we were going to take this leap into opening a brewery St. Paul was really the only choice for us.”
Beyond that, they are the closest taproom to both the Palace Theater and the Xcel Energy Center, now that Great Waters Brewing Company closed. They will be offering special deals to ticket holders for both venues so people can make a night out of their trip downtown.
But all of that is nothing without customers enjoying the beer. Andy and Scott believe that won’t be a problem. “When we started we were young lads,” Andy says of the two of them, “we got to travel and taste other beers throughout the country and we’d come back and those beers weren’t on the shelves here. And we essentially decided, ‘Hey, let’s make beer that we want to drink.’”
Scott adds that when homebrewing back then, “you could make a quality beer for cheaper than you could buy it at a liquor store or a lot of times at the bar.”
What started as a fun, cost-effective means of having good beer “super snowballed” into a full-time hobby. Scott and Andy would brew three or four times a week, all year round. They eventually executed 100 different recipes, from traditional Pilsners, to IPAs, to an American Strong Ale with a 17.5% ABV (that will only be available in small pours). They’ve even learned to make some fruit-infused meads for the beer averse, and some non-alcoholic options to make a more welcoming and family-friendly environment.
All of this experience is what gives the company its name. “When you have a beer, it really should never be a gamble,” says Brad, “we’re really stacking the deck in our customers’ favor.”
They have also used the name to influence the design of the space. A large chandelier (that Andy made, using the knowledge gained in his previous career as a sheet metal worker) hangs over the bar and resembles a deck of cards dropping toward a table. The bar itself has two clipped corners, reminiscent of casino-used cards, and some walls of the taproom will be covered in felt to evoke a poker table. Lastly, Brad, a designer by trade, created a wall decoration that will have 8,000 cards on it, all decorated with his own design, which will also be available on the backs of actual decks of cards.
When Andy, Brad, and Scott were growing up in St. Paul, they probably never guessed they’d be opening a business right in the heart of downtown. All told, the brains behind Stacked Deck have come a long way.
Brewers: Scott Wege and Andy Erickson
Beer: Ante Up Amarillo, Fortunately Moist, Pocket Aces, Bad Luck Brown, Wild-Mannered ESB, Snaggletooth, and All-In Amber Lager
Address: 421 Cedar St., St Paul, MN 55101
Hours: Mon–Fri: 3–10pm; Sat: 12–12am; Sun: 12–10pm
Grand Opening: December 1, 2018