Dan Redpath once sold jet fuel for a living. But, just a month before his 50th birthday, he made a serious career change. “Now I sell a different kind of fuel!” he laughs.
After 13 years of homebrewing and building a passion for craft beer, he is now the proud managing partner of Eagan’s newest brewpub, Union 32 Craft House, which opened on July 10.
Redpath’s homebrewing hobby sparked into a business not even two years ago at a coach’s meeting for his child’s sports team. It was there that he met a group of dads who would become Redpath’s friends and later business partners in the brewpub.
Together they form a formidable business partnership. David Moeller, Mark Zesbaugh, and Curt Hoffman are three successful entrepreneurs, whose expertise in business, commercial real estate, and finances supported Redpath in a pipe dream-turned-reality.
The partnership arrangement works perfectly for Redpath, whose new career aspirations include “making beer and talking about beer.”
With a talented staff supporting the bar and kitchen, Redpath is able to focus his attention on the beer and the beer alone, an important part of the business model. While the focus at many Minnesota brewpubs is centered around their house brands, with just a few guest taps available, Union 32 is taking an alternative approach. The brewpub is dedicating the majority of its 32 tap lines to beers and ciders produced by other local breweries, and only a few taps for its Union 32 brands.
Redpath explains, “Our name is stemmed from Minnesota being the 32nd state to join the Union, so we’re really taking that to heart. We think there’s a lot of really good beer being made in Minnesota.” Union 32’s goal is to offer Minnesotans an authentic brewery experience alongside a strong sampling of Minnesota’s finest beverages.
To make the sampling experience more engaging, Union 32 took a page out of the playbooks of some Denver and Chicago’s bars, and installed a self-serve beer wall.
Spanning the far back wall of the taproom, interactive screens displaying the brewery logos and beer information sit atop 32 tap handles. Patrons purchase a beer card at the main bar, which they insert into the screen corresponding to the beer they want. Customers are charged by the ounce, a saving grace for the first-timers who serve themselves a pint of foam. A beer ambassador is always nearby to offer recommendations and instructions for a proper pour.
Redpath reflects on the patron experience, “At first people are a little intimidated by it, but what we love about it is the interactivity.” Since opening on July He has already observed drinkers building unique flights, reviewing beers with their friends, and planning their next pours accordingly.
Tap selection includes classics such as Summit EPA, Fulton Lonely Blonde, and Surly Furious. Alongside these mainstays are more rural names like u4ic and F-Town. Union 32’s initial offerings include a Kölsch and an IPA that were guest brewed at Excelsior Brewing while Union 32’s brewhouse was being built, and there’s a pale ale and an imperial IPA on their way. Redpath and his head brewer, Rich Hess, will soon add a German alt, and in the future a stout and saison. “We want to have a good balance for everybody; not everybody has the same taste,” says Redpath.
Every two servings, patrons must re-up their pouring privileges through a “responsibility check.” The mandatory check-in aims to prevent irresponsible consumption in the new drinking format. Eagan police visited the taproom and gave the system their stamp of approval, noting it could be even more effective than bartenders on a busy Saturday night.
For the less beer-inclined patron, locally crafted spirits, cider, and wine are also available. Sociable Ciderwerks, Tatterstall, and Cannon Valley are just a few on the ever-expanding list of non-brewery brands.
“The margins are better on your own beer than it is on other beer, but I really wanted to celebrate the craft of what is going on in Minnesota.”
Brewers: Rich Hess and Dan Redpath
Beers: IPA, Pale Ale, Quick Cascade Kölsch, Implication Imperial IPA
Address: 2864 Highway 55, Eagan, MN, 55121
Hours: Sun–Wed 11am–11pm, Thu–Sat 11am–12am