Now Open (Or Damn Close): The Nordic Brewing Company in Monticello

The interior of Nordic Brewing Company in Monticello, Minnesota // Photo by Cordelia Haugen

A new adventure with every beer and every visit: such is the quest of Monticello, Minnesota’s newest brewery, The Nordic Brewing Company.

Nordic opened less than a year after fellow Monticello brewery Rustech Brewing and is guided by its owners’ passion for beer, community, and fantasy—something owners/founders Zach Barthel, Matt Belz, and Laura Belz hopes resonates with everyone who walks in the door. As the brewery’s slogan states, beer is the ultimate quest, and they want the taproom experience to offer a real sense of adventure.

Most of the things guests will see, taste, and experience at the brewery—including the bar, tabletops, menu boards, and coasters—will be made by the hands of one of the owners. This level of detail is one of the ways the trio hopes to demonstrate how passionate and devoted they are to their business. “We want this to be a place where people want to go to relax with their family and friends and can have beer and nerd out with us and with our beers and characters,” Laura says. “We aren’t trying to be like anyone else. We want to stick to who we are and be true to what we believe and what we stand behind with everything we do. We are nerds who make beer, and we want to embrace that identity.”

From left to right: Matt Belz, Laura Belz, and Zach Barthel of Monticello’s The Nordic Brewing Company // Photo by Cordelia Haugen

The beers at Nordic reflect their nonconformist ethos. From the My Pandy Smoked Pineapple Ale to the Sail Brown Bay Chocolate Brown Ale, the brewery aims to produce beers that are unlike those found at most Minnesota taprooms. Matt is the head brewer and has been homebrewing for six years. He says he does not have a specific style or approach to how he develops his recipes, but rather that he brews from feel and how the ingredients are working with one another. “It’s an adventure. I make what I think I will like and learn from each beer I make,” he explains.

While the ideas for recipes are borne from Matt’s experimentation, ultimately the customers will guide which beers stay on tap and which don’t. “We will make what the people want,” he says. “We will take what people say they like and what they don’t and craft a beer selection that reflects what our customers want.”

Making each beer even more unique are the individual backstories the owners have created for them, complete with characters, interactive games, and storylines that develop beer by beer.

It’s an idea borne of the owners’ passion for fiction, specifically along the lines of dark fantasy classics like “The Chronicles of Narnia,” “The Dark Tower,” and “Lord of the Rings.” “We don’t just want you to come for the beer,” Matt says. “We want you to come for the experience, and stay because you love the beer.”

The brewery is 10,000 square feet and operates on a 3-barrel system (with plans to expand once more beers are added, and once demand requires a larger system). The taproom features two 30-foot-long bars and room for more than 200 people. Nordic plans on eventually adding a 300-person capacity event hall for hosting movie nights, wedding receptions, private events, etc., plus a kitchen, patio, and possibly an additional smaller event space. There are also discussions about trying to bring in food trucks and other local vendors, and perhaps even put on a beer festival as early as next summer in the lot behind the brewery.

Top: The Nordic Brewing Company's draft system. Bottom: A glass of beer on the bar at The Nordic Brewing Company in Monticello, Minnesota // Photo by Cordelia Haugen

Top: The Nordic Brewing Company’s draft system. Bottom: A glass of beer on the bar at The Nordic Brewing Company in Monticello, Minnesota // Photo by Cordelia Haugen

For Nordic Brewing Company, beer is not just a passion—it is a key part of life, and a way for the owners to express themselves. As Laura puts it, “We’re on an adventure, and we want you all to come with us on that adventure.” Matt adds: “We want everyone to be able to find something to enjoy here.”

Nordic’s grand opening is slated for early 2019. They are hosting a soft opening the weekend of November 9; more specific details will be announced on their Facebook page.

Head brewer: Matt Belz

Beers: My Pandy Smoked Pineapple Ale, Sail Brown Bay Chocolate Brown Ale, Addled Ale Cream Ale

Address: 530 Cedar St., Monticello, MN 55362

Hours: Friday: 3pm‒10pm; Saturday: 11am‒10pm; Sunday: 11am‒6pm

Website: Facebook

Soft Opening: November 9, 2018

Grand Opening: Early 2019