Surly alums bringing new brewery to St. Paul’s Lowertown


Barrel Theory’s location at 7th Street East and Wacouta in Lowertown St. Paul // Photo by Joseph Alton

A team of brewing industry veterans announced plans to open their own brewery in St. Paul’s Lowertown. Barrel Theory Beer Company is expected to open in early 2017 on the corner of 7th Street East and Wacouta in the bustling east end of St. Paul’s downtown.

The brewery and taproom is a partnership between Surly Brewing Company’s former director of technology Brett Splinter, former Surly brewer Timmy Johnson, and CPA Todd Tibesar, who will come on full time next year. Though they’ll be focused on filling their beautiful basement cellar with barrels in coming years, big barrel-aged beers aren’t the only styles you’ll find at Barrel Theory.

Barrel Theory Beer Company Featured Image

Barrel Theory’s basement cellar and Brett Splinter // Photos by Kevin Kramer

“We’re really excited to have a broad spectrum of beers,” explains Splinter. “We’ll make some unapologetically hoppy IPAs, we’re also going to be doing a lot of barrel-aging, but what I believe our calling card is really going to be is going to be what we do with kettle sour: Berliner Weisse, fruited Berliner Weisse.”

The 10-barrel brewhouse will be located adjacent to a 90-seat taproom inside a beautiful 4,000-square-foot exposed-limestone space. While Barrel Theory won’t have a kitchen of its own, the owners plan to have a food service window cut directly into the neighboring restaurant, Dark Horse Bar & Eatery, which will offer a unique, limited menu of Dark Horse grub to hungry beer drinkers in the taproom.

Though a majority of beer will be sold out of the taproom in growlers, Crowlers, and 750-milliliter bottles, initial distribution plans include a few draft accounts in and around the Twin Cities.

“We want to bring you here to tell you our story,” says Splinter. “We want to pour you a bunch of really, really fresh beers that are well curated, and then you can walk out of here with a Crowler of beer that was put in the brite tank 20 hours ago.”

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Photos by Kevin Kramer

Barrel Theory Beer Company derives its name from Liebig’s Law of the Minimum, which often uses the image of an oak barrel with staves of uneven length to explain that growth is governed not by the greatest resource available, but by the most limited resource. For Barrel Theory’s founders, Liebig’s Law of the Minimum is just as applicable to beer. “We don’t want to be defined by our best or most successful product, but by the overall quality of our service and our beers,” explains Splinter.

“We are beyond excited and humbled to be able to share our vision for quality product and customer experience,” Splinter adds. “We couldn’t be happier to be doing this in Lowertown St. Paul, a community we’ve always hoped to call home.”


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