Now Open (or Damn Close): Tin Whiskers

Now Open (or Damn Close) visits St. Paul’s newest production brewery: Tin Whiskers

By Brian Kaufenberg
Tin Whiskers Owners (Left to right: George Kellerman, Jake Johnson, Jeff Moriarty) // Photo by Joshua Wiederin

Tin Whiskers Owners (Left to right: George Kellerman, Jake Johnson, Jeff Moriarty) // Photo by Joshua Wiederin

The science of brewing brought three electrical engineers together to start Tin Whiskers, St. Paul’s newest production brewery and taproom. Jake Johnson, Jeff Moriarty, and George Kellerman met at the University of Minnesota and worked together at a small engineering services company in downtown Minneapolis. In 2006, the group began homebrewing and held weekly homebrew tastings with employees at the company—BJCP scoring sheets and all.

Inspired by Flat Earth and Surly, the trio began developing a business plan for their own brewery in 2010. The brewery name came to them while Moriarty was working on circuit boards and found that a tin whisker, a metal tendril that develops between metal solder pads, was causing a short circuit on the board. The phrase captured the scientific background of the founders and the Tin Whiskers brand—Devo meets Discovery Channel’s How It’s Made—was born.

“We haven’t been sued by Futurama yet, so we’re doing okay,” Moriarty joked about the robot featured on their logo. “But NASA actually called us and complained that we took over the number one search result for ‘tin whiskers.’”

Potential investors were brought to Jeff’s basement where their pilot system was set up and the necessary funds were raised. They visited 50 potential sites for the brewery, landing on a 3,400 square foot commercial space located in the historic Rossmor Building.

“We very much picked this place to be the neighborhood brewery,” said Moriarty. “St. Paul deserves more breweries.”

The 1,200 square foot taproom has an “open source” philosophy, which will afford beer geeks an inside look and inside role in the brewery. Head brewer Jake Johnson shared plans for an educational series on single hop and single malt beers, as well as contests held for homebrewers to brew their recipe at the brewery.

Tin Whiskers beer will eventually be available in liquor stores and restaurants around the Metro. Until then, visit the taproom for pints or growlers of the six to eight styles of tap beer including a stout, IPA, amber pumpkin ale, and honey chamomile wheat ale. Meet the scientific minds behind Tin Whiskers. “We’re boring,” Moriarty confessed, “but the brewery makes us interesting people.”

The Brewers: Head Brewer Jake Johnson, Brewer Jeff Moriarty
The Beer: Short Circuit Stout, Ampere Bière de Garde, Flip Switch IPA, Wheatstone Bridge, Schottky Pumpkin Ale
Visit: 125 E. 9th St., St. Paul
Hours: Thu­ & Fri 3–11pm, Sat 12–11pm

About Brian Kaufenberg

Brian Kaufenberg is the editor-in-chief of The Growler Magazine.

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