For Ryan Evenson, owning a brewery in Hallock, Minnesota, started with $100 and a dream.
“We had a revelation,” says the Thief River Falls native, noting the significance of the light bulb in the Revelation Ale Works logo.
Ryan, who is opening Revelation Ale Works with his wife Lindsey, his brother Josh, and sister-in-law Ashley, has wanted his own brewery since a stint living in Oregon where he grew accustomed to flavorful beers from the likes of Rogue Ales & Spirits and McMenamins. While a brewery was in his long-term plans, he didn’t expect it to happen in 2016.
“I wanted to save money and do it in five or 10 years. Then this building came up,” he says. The building is an old service station built in 1939, which sat vacant in recent years despite its prime location on the corner of US Highway 75 and 2nd Street in Hallock. “I was talking to the owner,” Ryan remembers. The owner mentioned tearing down the unique L-shaped brick building, and the light bulb turned on. “We’ll give you $100,” Ryan told the former owner. From there, “Everything fell into place,” he says. He consulted with Lindsey and Josh and they were onboard.
Like Ryan, Josh and Ashley, also from Thief River Falls, felt inspired by their time living in Oregon. “We learned a lot there and developed a love for craft beer,” Josh says. The aesthetic of Oregon’s breweries appealed to him, and he hopes to capture their small community vibe but with a Minnesota feel.
Of course it’s about the beer, but it’s about bringing all people together, he explains.
“We’re focusing on being a huge part of the community, giving back and making sure that everybody can come to our business and enjoy being there,” Josh says. They envision a microbrewery that is part–community center and part–neighborhood pub. The brewery will have arcade games, coloring books, and open space outside where kids and dogs can run. “We’ll have something for everybody: soda, kombucha, coffee, water, and beer,” he says.
Being a kid-friendly space was important to Ryan (hence the PG-ifyed version of this story’s headline, done at the brewery’s request), who counts having to line up a babysitter before visiting a brewery as one of his pet peeves.
Inside the brick building, the brewhouse is located just off of their L-shaped taproom, connected to the tasting room but separated by a doorway. The brothers will use a seven-barrel system to provide for their 10 tap lines, with future plans to distribute to bars in Fargo and Grand Forks.
Younger brother Josh will be head brewer, ramping up from years of homebrewing experience. He acknowledges the challenge of upscaling recipes but he’s in frequent communication with other Minnesota and North Dakota brewers about technique. Both brothers took a “Brewery Immersion Course” in Colorado to help them prepare for the unexpected elements of ownership along the way.
While the Evenson brothers enjoy hops—the two families also own 17 acres outside of town on which they plan to grow hops—Revelation will brew a variety of beer styles for the Hallock community, including a Belgian wheat beer, brown ale, and rye beers using grain from their distillery neighbors at Far North Spirits.
The start-up costs have grown significantly since their $100 payment for the building, but one-and-a-half years later the Evensons are ready to turn on the lights and let in the first customers. Revelation Ale Works will have a soft opening on February 18, and will celebrate their grand opening on February 24 and 25.
Brewers: Ryan & Josh Evenson
Beer: Pale ale, Belgian wit, IPA, stout, red rye ale, brown ale as well as several experimentals
Address: 146 South Atlantic Avenue, Hallock, MN 56728
Hours: Fridays and Saturdays from 4–8pm