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Minnesota on Tap

He writes about beer.

Steel Toe Brewing taproom expands in St. Louis Park

When Steel Toe Brewing owner Jason Schoneman opened his St. Louis Park taproom just two years ago he never imagined he’d already be doubling its size. But, since the adjoining space became available last August, he has been making plans to do just that. If all goes according to plan, he will be churning out his award winning beers in a new, more open space by June. 

Steel Toe has had no problem selling its beer, but Jason has absolutely no plans to expand his distribution beyond the current 15-mile radius around the Twin Cities. “I’ve held the reins back on the brewery. I don’t want to grow, just to grow” he says. The brewery did 2,100 barrels last year, which is only half of their current total capacity of 4,000.

Jason himself hails from Iowa and after a detour out west in Oregon at the award winning Pelican Brew Pub, he ended up in Minnesota where his wife is from. “When I went out to Oregon I lived in a tent. I had my first Pelican Ale and I loved it. I thought it was the best beer in the world.” He would go on to brew under Darrin Welch and help to capture multiple GABF awards. “I grew up in Iowa and to go from Pacific City, Oregon—which has 900 people—to Minnesota was a big change” he explained. “I chose St. Louis Park because I didn’t want to drive [in rush hour].”

The new space will include a bar right when you walk in (think of the current space just flipped around) with a walk-in cooler located directly behind it for the tap lines and growler storage. As you walk through the main bar area there will be a doorway leading into a space that is much larger, which includes a second serving station for busier nights. The room is complete with two new restrooms and a garage door that will lead you out to the new outdoor patio, a part of phase 3.

With all the new space, they will also need to hire some new employees to help out Taproom Manager Chelsea Carlson. There will be 10 tap handles, giving taproom goers two more options on a regular basis.

The current and soon-to-be former space will be home to barrel storage. This climate-controlled room will help to keep proper temperature throughout the process. Expect some expansion of that program in the future. Some different packaging may also be in the works, as they have been talking about this for some time.

One thing that won’t change around the brewery is the family-like atmosphere. “Everyone here is phenomenal,” says Jason. Randin King was hired on because every time he came in to fill a growler he noticed that Jason and his father-in-law were always busy washing and filling growlers. He offered to help and now he is the head brewer. Chelsea came on to run the taproom after the Steel Toe crew met her at the 2012 Autumn Brew Review. Michael Wagner was brought on this year as the assistant brewer after years of working at The Four Firkins right down the street. While the “family” may be growing, one thing is certain — the quality will remain the same.


Bad Weather Brewing releases Migration and new taproom update

St. Paul’s newest brewery released Migration into the market last week, at DeGidio’s Restaurant & Bar, just in time for patio season. This rose hip-infused brew is a more sessionable offering than we’re used to seeing from this particular brewery; and that was evident as even light beer drinkers were requesting it at the bar. The guys behind Bad Weather (Joe Giambruno and Zac Carpenter) are still hoping to open their new taproom this summer — pending the arrival of their equipment. They plan to have 5-6 brews available on tap by the time they open. One of which, will be an IPA that they are currently piloting. 

The Bad Weather crew also went out and got themselves a head brewer, but they didn’t have to look very far. The duo hired Andy Ruhland, who had previously worked on their recipes at Lucid where the breweries shared a space. Andy gushed about his experience working with Lucid, but is excited to start at the new St. Paul brewery. “It’s been a natural transition. I’ve known them for over 3 years. The transition has been seamless,” says Ruhland. The hiring process had been in the works for a while prior to the announcement back in March. “When I was first approached the timeline was supposed to be much shorter. We talked about it last summer and wanted to give Lucid plenty of time [to find a replacement].”

The brewery itself is coming along nicely with a fresh coat of black paint on the exterior and a mega, walk-in cooler, which was just delivered last week. Food menus from local restaurants will be available at the taproom so guests can order in food. They also hope to have a shuttle to take people to and from Wild games during hockey season. For those looking for jobs in the industry, Bad Weather plans on hiring 20 or so employees by the end of 2015 to assist in their taproom. Not a bad gig if you can get it.






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