Two names familiar to Minnesota’s beer industry are behind a new brewery project in the North Loop of Minneapolis—ONE Fermentary & Taproom.
Ramsey Louder, formerly a brewer at Dangerous Man Brewing Company and most recently a cellarman at New Holland Brewing in Michigan, and Joseph Alton, the former editor-in-chief of The Growler Magazine, are starting an experimental brewpub at 618 5th St. N., Minneapolis. The space is next door to Number 12 Cider and within a few blocks of Fulton Brewing’s taproom, Modist Brewing, and Inbound BrewCo.
The brewery is backed by two investment partners, who approached Alton to consult on the project. During the early stages of development, Alton shared a vision for an experimental “fermentary”—a brewery that wouldn’t have its own brewhouse, but would instead purchase unfermented wort from partner breweries and ferment it on-site in a variety of vessels, including foeders, oak barrels, and a concrete fermentor to show consumers of all backgrounds and knowledge levels the way fermentation changes the flavor of a beer.
Marrying the idea with their mission to create a more diverse craft beer scene by engaging communities not currently represented in craft beer, the investors and Alton went on the search for a brewer who shared their vision. One of Alton’s first calls was to Louder, who had relocated from Minneapolis to Holland, Michigan, in April 2017 and was working in the expansive barrel-aging program at New Holland Brewing Company. Like most brewers, Louder had pondered opening his own brewery someday, but he was also content with his life in Michigan, where he was raising his family.
“In my life, I’ve been lucky to work with good people. So when Joe approached me with this, it was kind of like, all right, I was open to it. We sat down and talked about it with our partners, and they’re also good people, and genuine,” says Louder. “I didn’t even have to bring it up, about diversity being important. That kind of opened my eyes as well, it made me really think about taking that leap and moving back here from Michigan after being settled there.
“It was a huge sacrifice for my wife,” Louder continues, explaining that the move meant moving far away from his wife’s family in Toronto. “That’s how much she believes in me, or this, or she believes in something to help make this happen, especially with a six-month-old. It was a big sacrifice to uproot, with the baby, away from family to come back here.”
Soon after Louder came aboard, Alton joined the team as an owner. As the group homed in on the North Loop location for ONE Fermentary & Taproom, they also made some changes to the brewery concept. To allow more flexibility in beer production, Louder convinced the group to add a small 10-barrel brewing system that would help supplement the wort made in collaboration with other breweries. The production area of the space will also house five 10-barrel stainless steel fermentors, one 20-barrel stainless steel fermentor, one concrete fermentor (akin to the one at Schram Vineyards Winery & Brewery), two foeders, and a host of oak barrels.
“The limitless [creative] nature that we’re establishing, under that fermentary line of thinking, is really exciting,” says Alton. “Specifically, being able to have him [Louder] make a base Berliner, whether it’s here or with one of our friends’ [breweries] that we’re going to do several collabs with, bring it back here, and put some of it into concrete and some of it into oak—to watch those two beers develop into their own is really exciting to me.”
Additionally, the business shifted from seeking a production brewery license to a brewpub license, which will restrict them from distributing their beer outside of the brewery but allow them to serve guest wines, spirits, and ciders.
“In addition to being able to make eight, 10, 12 of our own beers at any given time to have on tap, we’ll also be able to have some guest beers. I love Ramsey, but I can’t ever see Ramsey making Schell’s Light better than Schell’s does, so we’ll put beers like that on tap as an homage to the pioneers that came before us,” Alton says. “And we’ll also be able to do tap red wine and white wine. At first that was just exciting because there are some quality producers putting those wines in kegs now, but as we started to think about it we realized that Ramsey and I are due for a trip out to Napa to go meet a winemaker and make something with them that we can actually bring back and put on tap here.”
The team is working with Wilkus Architects to design the brewpub, which will seat 119 inside and an additional 60 on an outdoor patio. They have also enlisted local designer Melanie Stovall. Stovall is Pollen Midwest’s design director and has served on the board for AIGA Minnesota as the committee chair and later as the associate director of sustainable design. Special attention is being made to ensure the space feels inclusive of people who in the past have felt alienated by craft beer.
“We want everyone, but we want to also put it out there to people of color, women, people from the LGBTQ+ community, people who aren’t typically found in most breweries anywhere,” explains Louder. “We want to put it out there that we want to be allies, we want to be a safe space, we want you to come enjoy it, learn about beer (or not), or just do whatever it is you want to do. This can be that place.”
Beyond the design of the physical space, the ONE team is working to extend this ethos to every aspect of the taproom experience, from events programming to the staff. “I think one of the most important things we can do to make people feel welcome is to hire a staff that is reflective of the wider demographics of the Twin Cities than what beer or the average taproom has offered consumers in the past,” Alton says.
The team will begin construction in the near future and hopes to be open by later this year. Stay tuned for more information in The Growler’s Now Open (Or Damn Close) column.