Categorized | FEATURED

Midway: a hoppin’ new brew destination

Posted on 13 November 2013 by robwas66


Get in the Bin: Co-owner Sandy Boss Febbo serves beer in the unique taproom at Bang Brewing (2320 Capp Rd., So. St. Anthony Park). The bin was conceived by Alchemy Architects (856 Raymond Ave.) and houses the only 100% organic brewery in the region. Hamline-Midway resident Isaac Everhart (in bike helmet) is enjoying a Minn, a mild ale. The taproom is open Fridays 5-10pm and Saturdays 12noon-5pm.(Photo by Jill Boogren)


Surly Brewing Co. broke ground in October on their new brewery at 520 Malcolm Ave. SE, just west of Hwy 280 in Minneapolis. It marks a huge leap forward for the brewery and “Surly Nation,” the fans who helped give rise to Minnesota’s – and now the Midway’s — burgeoning beer scene.

Members of the Surly family raise their glasses to celebrate the groundbreaking at the Malcolm-Midway location of their new “destination brewery,” coming in late 2014. (Photo by Jill Boogren)

“Everything that’s happened at Surly has all happened with the support of the community, its fans,” said Surly founder and president Omar Ansari.

The idea for a “destination brewery” – with a 300-person beer hall, beer garden, restaurant, and event center — began fermenting in 2010. But first Surly had to get past a prohibition-era law preventing brewers from selling pints of their own beer on premises. Thanks to the outpouring of support from craft beer lovers, the Minnesota legislature passed the “Surly law” in 2011 allowing taproom licenses.

Surly chose the 8.3 acre Malcolm Midway site because it was large enough to accommodate a near quadrupling of production – to 100,000 barrels a year — but also because it’s close to transit, bike routes and the light rail line. “We just wanted to be in a spot where people had options to get here and back,” said Ansari.

Surly expects to be open by this time next year with head brewer Todd Haug at the helm.

They’ll be in good company, as new breweries crop up in the Midway — each breaking its own new ground.

You can’t miss Bang Brewing (2320 Capp Rd.), which husband and wife team Jay and Sandy Boss Febbo opened in September. Housed in a metal grain bin, the brewery is built for maximum efficiency. Its circular design and flexible use space is perfect for production flow, said Sandy. “We’re able to do all this in 1,300 square feet.”

Bang is the only 100% organic brewery in the region. “Others do one organic beer out of, like, 15,” said Hamline-Midway resident Isaac Everhart, who rode his bike there for a tasting one Saturday afternoon. “This is all organic. It takes a lot of dedication to do that.”

They have two brews on tap so far: Neat, a very pale ale, and Minn, a mild. Jay’s the lead brewer, “but we’ve done every batch together,” said Sandy.

To round things out, the Boss Febbos have planted barley on the land outside the bin. They’re rebuilding the soil so they can ultimately harvest quality organic grain. While it won’t yield enough to feed their production, they’d like to find a homebrewer to use it.

“I love to garden,” said Sandy. “Now we get to farm and brew. And those days, when we’re out there hand broadcasting the seeds, are so cool.”

The location is perfect for the Boss Febbos, who wanted to be able to bike from their home in Mac-Groveland. They’re also “huge fans” of mass transit. “Jay and I have shared a car for over a decade. We ride bikes, we both have Nice Ride keys, and we ride the bus and trains,” said Sandy. “I can’t wait for [the green line] to open.”

Taproom hours are 5-10pm Fridays and 12noon-5pm Saturdays. Growlers are available.


Owner and brewer Deb Loch (at left) and co-owner Jill Pavlak are opening Urban Growler Brewing Company at 2325 Endicott St. in St. Anthony Park in early 2014. Theirs will be the first women-owned and women-brewed brewery in the Midwest. Their “Plow to Pint” series will use ingredients from local farmers. Founding members will receive their first pint for free for life. (Photo by Jill Boogren)

Next door in a beautiful brick building (once home to St. Paul’s municipal horses), Urban Growler Brewing Company (2325 Endicott St.) will be opening in 2014 as a packaging brewery with a taproom, beer garden, and kitchen. Co-owners Jill Pavlak and Deb Loch believe UGBC is the first women-owned AND women-brewed brewery in the Midwest.

Their flagship beer is a Graffiti Rye IPA. Their “Plow to Pint” series will feature beers made with seasonal ingredients, such as wild rice, pumpkin, blueberry, and rhubarb, provided by local urban farmers. “That’s where we’ll have interesting ideas and twists,” said head brewer Loch.

Pavlak said they’ve already been asked by a community gardener in St. Anthony Park what they should plant. This neighborhood connection is exactly what they’d hoped for. “The whole reason we wanted to do this was to involve the community, bring people together,” she said.

They want to draw more women, too, by paying attention to what appeals to women. Some taprooms have few beers under 7% alcohol, said Loch, so she’ll offer a breadth of flavors in a drinkable range. But lighter in alcohol doesn’t mean lighter in flavor, she said. “Women like beer that tastes good, too.”

When Pavlak visits taprooms she’s either freezing or uncomfortable. So UGBC will be warmer and have more comfortable seating. They plan to serve food with beer pairings as well.

Like the Boss Febbos, Pavlak and Loch hail from Mac-Groveland and wanted to be close to light rail and bike paths. They’re grateful for the supportive brewing community. “It only helps all of us, and it really will bring people into this area,” said Loch.

Named for the fire-eating antics of founders Dane Breimhorst and Thom Foss, Burning Brothers Brewing is the only dedicated gluten-free brewery in the Midwest.

After head brewer Breim­horst was diagnosed with Celiac, a gluten intolerance, he was determined to make a really good gluten-free beer. He entered competitions, receiving feedback from the judges that his was a “good solid beer.”

This was the “highest compliment ever,” said Breimhorst. Especially since they didn’t tell anyone it was gluten free beforehand.

Being gluten free means no wheat, barley, rye or spelt is used. Instead Breimhorst uses sorghum, buckwheat and millet, and has even tried quinoa.


Owner and brewer Dane Breimhorst (at left) and co-owner Thom Foss at Burning Brothers Brewing, 1750 Thomas Ave., the only 100% gluten-free brewery in the Midwest, expected to open by the end of this year.  (Photo by Jill Boogren)

Burning Brothers will be a canning facility, with some seasonal bottles and growler sales. St. Paul is its primary market, with priority going to restaurants like Brasa, which is committed to providing a gluten-free dining experience.

For now, the only place to get Burning Brothers beer on draft will be in their taproom. Because it’s gluten free, they need to guarantee their beer is always on a tap line that will never be used for a beer containing gluten.

Breimhorst and Foss had to blaze their own trail by lobbying the City of St. Paul to allow taprooms to operate in a mixed use neighborhood — a measure that passed handily and went into effect in July. Neighbors have already told them they can’t wait for them to open.

Burning Brothers expects to begin canning their Pyro American Pale Ale by the end of this year, with their “no frills” taproom quick to follow.