In the fall of 2010, Ryan Lindquist and Damon Schuler toured Lift Bridge Brewing with their wives. During their tour, the pair looked around and thought, “We should totally do this.”
Though neither of them had brewed a batch of beer in his life, the pair decided to dive head first into what would become their new love: craft beer. In February 2011, Lindquist and Schuler purchased their first homebrewing supplies and got to work.
With some failed beginner attempts and a few trips to the supply shop, they got their operation up and running. While their homebrew was good, Lindquist says, he knew that to open their dream brewery, he and Schuler would have to bring in an expert.
Lindquist turned to Ben Salyards, a professional brewer whom they had met during his time working at Midwest Supplies. Salyards, who has also worked at The Herkimer as a head brewer, brought 13 years of brewing experience to the otherwise novice team. Lindquist saw Salyards as a source of knowledge regarding the science, production, and labor of brewing.
“Scaling up was something I was never comfortable doing,” Lindquist reflects. “Even the times we brewed in Damon’s garage with Ben, his level of science was something that we had dabbled in but never nailed. That’s where you can see B- brewers becoming A’s.”
With a brewer on board, the team went on to secure a space in the heart of downtown Shakopee. Shakopee is just a short 30 miles from the Twin Cities, but its rich history and agricultural industries imbue the city, and now its namesake brewery, with small-town charm.
The taproom lies somewhere between historical nostalgia and the sleek vibrancy we often associate with craft breweries. Elements, such as the 100-year old brick from the Shakopee foundry and limestone from the town’s original 1850s brewery, create a comforting hometown aesthetic. While cozy ambiance is integral to the taproom, Shakopee Brewhall stands out from the town’s neighborhood bars. A sleek, locally-made mahogany bar top reflects the amber colors within trendy logoed glassware. Retro orange stools slide along mini tiles.
“My aim here is to acknowledge the past and bring in the new, exposing people to a lot of different styles of beer,” says Lindquist. The styles Shakopee Brewhall will open with are an “easy drinking” red ale, lager, brown ale, saison, and American IPA. The sessionable lineup suits the brewery well, given their primary customers will likely be local families. (The taproom also has board games and kid-sized tables for children to enjoy.)
Photos by Katelyn Regenscheid
Beyond the taproom sits a seven-barrel brewhouse and nine fermenters. The system was purchased used from Connecticut, a purchase that Lindquist claims virtually fell into their laps. The equipment, along with the downtown Shakopee location felt entirely serendipitous to the team.
After all the hard work of building the brewery, Lindquist, Schuler, and Salyards are excited now that they have finally opened the doors to the public on September 14. Already, their taproom is becoming a gathering place for families and friends who have stopped in during soft-openings. It is something the residents can be proud of. An attentive consumer might notice a bit of pride in the company’s logo too: a peacock whose tail is an upturned hop cone. Lindquist comments, “There’s pride in Shakopee, and there’s pride in opening a business and delivering beer to the community.”
The Brewer: Ben Salyards
The Beer: Shakopee Red American Amber Ale, Shakopee Light American Light Lager, Nutty Mad Brown Ale, Holmes Landing Saison, The Six IPA
Address: 124 First Avenue East, Shakopee, Minnesota
Hours: Wed–Thu: 3–10pm; Fri: 3–11pm; Sat: Noon–11pm; Sun: Noon–8pm