By Drew Kerr
A look at new (and soon to be open) Twin Cities Breweries
If you want to sample Rob Miller’s latest brew, you’re going to have to see the man himself.
Miller’s new Northeast Minneapolis outpost, Dangerous Man Brewing, will serve as the one-and-only outlet for his offerings when it opens in mid-December. From mash to kettle to tap, the beer will never exit the 3,000-square-foot space.
“I wanted to make this a real destination spot,” Miller said recently as he worked to complete the makeover of the 1920-era building, originally used as a bank.
Chances are it will be worth the trip, too. A homebrewer for the last decade, Miller is planning to mix up the styles flowing out of the serving tanks and into six taps at the bar – a direct connection that promises some of the freshest beer available.
The menu was still being crafted as of the writing of this article, but Miller said he will likely offer an India Pale Ale and a Chocolate Milk Stout that has garnered the most attention from those who know what he can do (Miller says it borders on a milk shake).
Some special firkins and casks – including an herbal-infused beer, concocted with Miller’s herbalist brother – are also expected.
“I love the fact that I don’t have to set my recipes,” said Miller, whose bearded face serves as the brewery’s hallmark. “I want the freedom to do a little bit of everything.”
Miller, who opened the brewery with investments from 70 friends and family members, didn’t have such flexibility while working to realize his dream of opening a brewery, though.
When he moved from Montana back to Minneapolis and started working up a business plan, he realized state law was against him. Later, after the taproom bill passed, he found himself facing a city rule that prohibited liquor stores or bars from being located within 300 feet of a church (St. Cyril Church is directly across the street). That rule was also changed, after a bit of lobbying.
That work, in addition to the physical labor he’s poured into the new space, will make the first taste a bit sweeter, Miller said.
“When we pour the first pint, there will probably be some tears in that beer,” he said. “It’ll be hard not to.”
The brewer: Rob Miller
The beers: Lineup TBD, but expect IPA and Chocolate Milk Stout
Visit: 1300 2nd Street NE in Minneapolis
When Kristen England and B.J. Haun surveyed the local beer market, they found something absent from the menu: a low-gravity beer.
England and Haun are correcting that at their new Roseville-based brewery, Pour Decisions, which began offering growlers and bottles in late October.
The well-established homebrewers have made Pubstitute, a 3.1 percent alcohol by volume dark Scottish ale, one of their two main offerings. The heavily-malted beer carries a touch of cocoa, and is one of the first locally-made, year-round session ales.
Pour Decisions’ other fixture, Patersbier, is a slightly more potent take on Belgian Monk’s ale (so named for its history as Monk’s daily ration) that is a mix of honeyed malt, floral hops, spice and candied citrus.
Both are unique in a local market that skews towards hop-heavy offerings, England and Haun said during a recent visit to their spacious brewery, where a taproom is also planned.
“We settled on two styles that we felt were really underrepresented,” said Haun, whose day job is in genome engineering. “They’re flavorful and complex, but they don’t burn your taste buds.”
Though they’re taking a different approach, England and Haun are convinced they’ll be able put their 7,500 square foot warehouse to good use. The brewery has capacity to make 2,000-plus barrels a year, with plenty of room to grow.
Still, the escalation from garage to brewery hasn’t slowed England or Haun’s desire to innovate.
A series of casked and seasonal offerings are planned, and homebrewing friends will be encouraged to submit ideas for a 2.5-barrel pilot system that could lead to some taproom-only offerings.
Among the known seasonals is Maroon and Bold, a hyper-local beer made with Minnesota-malted barley and hops raised by University of Minnesota researchers and Haun. An ale, Czech Porter, and German Sour called Berliner Weisse are also planned.
“Coming from homebrew roots, we didn’t want to lose the forest through the trees,” England said. “We wanted to keep experimenting.”
The brewer: Kristen England, B.J. Haun
The beers: Pubstitute (Dark Scottish Ale)*, Patersbier (Monk’s Golden Ale)
Visit: 1744 Terrace Drive in Roseville
The founders behind 612 Brew readily acknowledge they may have gotten a little ahead of themselves when they began promoting their new brewery two year ago, while still searching for a home and refining their planned offerings.
But two years after setting out, 612 Brew is well on its way to opening.
On June 12 (a date that cleverly coincides with their area code-themed namesake), the crew announced they had landed on a space at Broadway Street and Central Avenue, and would soon be churning out four beers with their own unique stamp.
Work to overhaul the 5,200 square foot, northeast Minneapolis taproom space continued as of late October, but 612 Brew’s four co-founders are confident they’ll be ready to debut by early 2013.
Looking back now, the time it’s taken to go from concept to reality has been a blessing, too, said Adit Kalra, who serves as 612 Brew’s president.
“The longer you take, the more diligent you can be,” Kalra said. “It’s a brewery, but it’s also a business. With that extra time we were able to sit down with other people, see what we needed to do, what we didn’t want to do.”
The pace has also given Kalra and the rest of the team time to perfect the beers they will offer at their taproom, in growlers and in select bars around the Twin Cities (cans may come in time, too).
The lineup includes a Rye India Pale Ale (Rated R); SIX (an American Pale Ale); Zero Hour (a Black Ale that will be available only at the taproom); and Mary Ann (a German-style, ginger-infused seasonal offering). The brewery will have a capacity to do up to 5,000 barrels a year, but plans call for doing around 1,500 barrels initially.
The beers are being crafted by Robert Kasak, a homebrewer since 2006, and Adam Schill, who has spent time at Burlington, Vt.-based Magic Hat Brewing Co., MN’s Cold Spring Brewing, and Tyranena Brewing Company, out of Lake Mills, Wis.
Ryan Libby, a project manager at Olson, a Minneapolis based advertising and public relations agency, who is taking the lead on marketing, isn’t just proud of the beers but the way the brand reflects its northeast Minneapolis surroundings. The reclaimed brewery space and steel-forged tap handles each reflect the community’s industrial heritage, he said.
“We think we’ve created something that talks to the blood, sweat and tears that Northeast was and is,” he said.
The brewers: Robert Kasak, Adam Schill
The beers: Rated R (West Coast IPA), SIX (American pale ale), Mary Ann (German style), Zero Hour (black ale)
Visit: 945 Broadway St. NE in Minneapolis
Tucked away in a nondescript, 800-square-foot space in northeast Minneapolis, Northgate Brewing blends easily with its industrial surroundings.
But pull up the garage door and it’s easy to see what’s going on. A pair of fermenters, a 400-gallon mash tun, kegs and a refashioned walk-in cooler from Northwestern College fill the compact space. In the corner sits a small chalkboard displaying a handful of beers sampled at a brew fest earlier this summer.
Though acknowledging the space isn’t likely to draw a lot of passerby, Todd Slininger, Adam Sjörgren, and head brewer Tuck Carruthers say that, for now at least, it’s just what they need.
“We have a cost-effective, lean space by design,” Slininger said during a recent visit to the California Street space. “We’re 100 percent concentrated on making the best beer we can and getting the goodwill of the local beer community.”
Assuming things go as planned, Northgate Brewing won’t be a secret for long. The hope is to begin growler sales out of the space once or twice a week beginning in December, and to also be on tap at a handful of northeast bars.
Future plans call for a broader reach, more capacity and a slate of seasonal offerings. Now, though, all of the attention is going to a single flagship beer: a malt-driven English Brown Ale brewed with British hops that comes in at a comfortable 4.8 percent alcohol by volume.
The recipe came from Sjörgren, who says it was a consistent favorite among his homebrews that stands out in a hop-heavy market and benefits from having a short trip from tap to glass.
“The best way to taste this stuff is as close to the brewing date as possible,” Sjörgren said. “The only way to do that is through quick, local distribution.”
While Sjörgren provided the Wall’s End recipe, future brewing will be led by Carruthers, a professionally-trained brewer, who serendipitously fell into the business after Slininger and Sjörgren spoke about their plans at his fiancé’s business class.
Whatever happens, Slininger said, the idea is to be nimble and resourceful.
“This, in a lot of ways, is a pilot project,” he says. “We want to be agile.”
The brewer: Tuck Carruthers
The beers: Wall’s End (English Brown Ale); seasonal TBD
Visit: 3134 California St in Minneapolis