Now Open (Or Damn Close): Thesis Beer Project in Rochester

Photo by Louis Livingston-Garcia

The central thesis of Thesis Beer Project is to make good beer and do good.

Located in Rochester’s uptown neighborhood a stone’s throw away from Mayo Clinic’s Saint Marys campus, Thesis Beer Project will be the city’s sixth brewery when co-owners Allyson Palmer and Adam Fredericksen open its doors on August 13.

The building is immediately recognizable thanks to a mural depicting an array of colorful, exaggerated people, animals, and beer, which would feel at home in “The Incal” comic. “From the get-go talking about what this idea could be, […] before we had a place or a brand, we always wanted it to be very alive from all aspects—color, music, volume, but also activity level,” Fredericksen says.

Palmer and Fredericksen’s brewery will not only serve beer, but serve as a venue for live music shows with a capacity of 100, host Packers fans for football games, and even house the third location of local coffee shop Cafe Steam.

“Some of my favorite places that I’ve been are places that serve both coffee and beer,” Palmer says, noting how when she was in college in Ohio she didn’t drink beer but frequented a place that served both. “I thought it was a really cool space because it was always active. So we’ve seen this model before and really like it because it just keeps the space active all day, keeps people in here.”

An array of Thesis’ options from their opening tap list // Photo by Louis Livingston-Garcia

Fredericksen and Palmer’s connection to the Mayo Clinic runs deeper than the brewery’s proximity to Mayo’s Saint Marys campus. Palmer is a resident physician of internal medicine there, and if it weren’t for Mayo Clinic—and the Mayo One helicopter—Fredericksen would have possibly died at the age of 18 following a car accident that involved his vehicle being hit by a drunk driver. His mother, too, has benefitted from the clinic: Fredericksen says she likely wouldn’t have lived as long as she did with leukemia without a stem cell transplant she received there.

“Everything we are going to do here is to give us an opportunity to do more for other people, for this community especially. This town, this city, this idea of Mayo Clinic […] is all built around this idea of giving back, helping, supporting, being charitable,” Fredericksen says.

In the spirit of that mission, Thesis will partner with local charities on a quarterly basis to make collaboration beers that will raise funds for their causes. They’ll begin with the nonprofit Gift of Life Transplant House.

“For us to be able to make beer and then, in turn, use that beer to do good and help other people—it’s the only reason we are actually doing this. It’s the main reason,” Fredericksen says.

Photograph by Louis Livingston-Garcia

When searching for a location, Fredericksen and Palmer learned that the building they’re currently in was built by a man that made his money as a beer distributor. The agent they worked with was a descendant of his.

“So this building, quite literally, was built on beer,” Fredericksen says. “It’s been very fun for us to put something in here knowing there’s history behind it. It made it feel like it was meant to be.”

But for their brewery to succeed in its mission, the couple knows the beer has to be good.

“The philosophy is a little bit of everything,” Fredericksen says of the five-barrel brewhouse outfitted with eight fermentors. “I want to brew what people want to drink; I also love the opportunity to brew what I want to brew. In that same way, I don’t want to make the same beers all the time. We might have a different version of the light lager or something like that always on tap.

“The overall goal here is to produce a top-quality product and make this space as inviting and entertaining as possible,” Fredericksen adds. “A thesis is a presentation of an idea to a community and this is exactly what we’re doing. It’s us creating a place that we would want to visit and we would want to hang out at. And presenting our idea to Rochester. That word is pretty fun, and juxtaposed with our branding being so playful and colorful, it’s kind of a nice play there.”

It has been stressful for the couple to get to this point. Among other setbacks, the brewery’s federal licensing was stuck in limbo during the partial government shutdown of December 2018-January 2019, which affected the TTB.

“I’m the eternal optimist,” Palmer explains when Fredericksen says he must have thought about giving up 20 times over the last two years. “I think we’ve learned a lot about our own resiliency, too, because you hit those roadblocks all the time. It’s a constant struggle to try and get to the finish line, but we’re doing it.”

“It’s fun as a newly married couple to have that reaffirmed so strongly and often,” Fredericksen adds.

Thesis Beer Project’s taproom opens August 13 // Photo by Louis Livingston-Garcia

Brewer: Adam Fredericksen

Beers: Tugboats Coffee Porter, Accidental Gold Golden Ale, Rookie Card Session IPA, Plot Armor Red Ale, Tuba Nanas Hefeweizen, and Hand Equity NEIPA.

Address: 1929 2nd St. SW, Rochester, MN 55902

Hours: Mon–Thu: 2pm–11pm; Fri–Sat: 11am–11pm; Sun: 11am–8pm

Online: Website, Facebook, Instagram

Grand Opening: August 13, 2019, at 2pm