Now Open (Or Damn Close): Thunder Brothers Brewery in Isanti

Thunder Brothers Brewery’s taproom opens in Isanti on January 16, 2020 // Photo by Tony Saunders

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. The Growler maintained full editorial control over the content.

Thunder Brothers Brewery is located in the back of a mixed-use building off Highway 65 in Isanti, Minnesota. It sits across the parking lot from a field, where the owners, Brett and Warren Thunstrom, have planted hops.

“We’re not really going to use them ourselves,” Brett says. “It’s more for people to learn about hops, and we’re going to build [a frame with ropes for the hops to grow] high, so we can put picnic tables under there, so they can be in the shade when they’re drinking their beer.”

Brett Thunstrom, left, holds a lager and Warren Thunstrom holds a stout as they stand in the brewhouse of Thunder Brothers Brewing in Isanti // Photo by Tony Saunders

Brett Thunstrom, left, holds a lager and Warren Thunstrom holds a stout as they stand in the brewhouse of Thunder Brothers Brewery in Isanti // Photo by Tony Saunders

The brewery, which takes its name from its founding brothers, both of whom had the nickname “Thunder” in high school, will open its doors on January 16. They will offer four beers to start out, with more to come soon: Lightning Lager, which Brett called their “first foray into lagers”; Hop Skip Jump, an IPA brewed with Citra hops, both brothers’ favorite of the four; a cream ale that people couldn’t get enough of when they brewed it in small batches; and a summer stout, which Brett described as being “stout in flavor, but [without] the heavy mouthfeel like an oatmeal stout or a chocolate stout. It’s a little on the lighter side, but it’s still 7.2-percent alcohol, so it’s still got a kick.”

The brothers use a Colorado Brewing Nano Pro Dual system with two kettles, which gives them the flexibility to experiment with small batches of new and niche flavors. They have the capacity to tap up to nine beers and they intend to expand their selection in the near future, with their next one likely being a “fruit-infused beer, blood orange, mango, something like that,” Brett says, adding, “We’re both IPA guys, so we’ll always have some kind of IPA on tap.”

A grain grinder that the Thunstrom brothers built for Thunder Brothers Brewery in Isanti // Photo by Tony Saunders

Brett’s background is in manufacturing and Warren owns and manages a coffee shop in Isanti. “So he’s the business guy, the personnel guy, and I’m the mechanical guy, the nuts and bolts guy,” Brett explains.

“If anything goes wrong,” Warren chimes in with a smile, “it’s his fault.”

The brothers did their own plumbing for the glycol cooling lines and they share the brewing duties. They started homebrewing about five years ago, with small, five-gallon batches, which they would then bottle and keg to share with friends, and they turned out to have a knack for it. “Our beers were really well-liked,” Brett says, “and people kept saying, ‘Why don’t you do this for a living?’ So we thought we’d give it a shot.”

They take pride in being the first local brewery in Isanti County. Their goal is to make Thunder Brothers a “homey, comfortable” place for people from Isanti and the surrounding communities to gather, play games, and have fun. The interior is cozy, with plenty of natural light coming in through the glass panes, some sitting room, and a standing bar. An exciting feature is the brewery’s well-lit back room, which has a big communal table and will feature a variety of board games and a small lending library, so customers can take a book or leave a book. The decor will be a mash-up of bicycle-themed adornments and artwork that strikes the owners’ fancy.

Summer will be the time for this brewery to truly shine, with a spacious, dog-friendly outdoor area with picnic tables in the hop garden. Brett and Warren are both avid bikers and they plan to host events regularly during the summer, including bike rides that start and end at the brewery and possible morning yoga events. Brett even jokes that they had floated the idea of holding races across the parking lot on keg dollies or adult-sized tricycles to win free beers. “It’d be a great spectator thing, too,” he says with a laugh. “People love that kind of stuff.”

With four distinct beers and a capacity for plenty more flavors, Thunder Brothers Brewery promises to have something for every beer drinker’s palate. But as much as the brothers love good beer, they also love their community and hope to make their brewery a regular gathering spot for people from near and far, whether for scheduled events or just having a drink with friends. When Brett articulates their mission statement, he keeps it simple: “Our focus is to have a place to have fun and drink good beer.”

Thunder Brothers Brewery in Isanti // Photo by Tony Saunders

Brewer: Brett and Warren Thunstrom

Beers: Lightning Lager, Hop Skip Jump IPA, Summer Stout, Cumulus Cream Ale

Address: 2 Enterprise Ave, Suite A3, Isanti, MN 55040

Hours: Mon–Wed: closed; Thu: 4pm–10pm; Fri: 3pm–12am; Sat: 12pm–12am; Sun: 12pm–6pm

Online: Facebook

Opening: January 16

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.

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