Plans for new brewery tap room in downtown Hopkins move forward

  • Article by: BEN JOHNSON , Star Tribune
  • Updated: July 23, 2013 - 3:47 PM

Plans for a tap room in Hopkins are close to receiving city approval.

A new brewery with a tap room could open in downtown Hopkins within the next year.

Jeremy Hale and Blake Verdon, co-founders of Live the Dream brewery, met with Hopkins City Council on July 16 to discuss amendments that need to be made to city code in order for a brewery to set up shop in Hopkins.

The city already had been working on creating a “brew pub” liquor license when Hale and Verdon reached out to it earlier this year.

“We were really trying to get some attention put on Hopkins as a place that we think would be a great setting for a tap room,” said Kersten Elverum, director of planning and economic development for Hopkins. “We decided to look at our ordinances, look at our zoning, and make sure there weren’t any barriers.”

Currently, all bars and restaurants in Hopkins are required to have food make up at least 50 percent of their sales. When the brew pub liquor license first officially was discussed back in May, the city proposed lowering the requirement to 25 percent.

Hale and Verdon countered with a proposal to lower the requirement to 10 percent, but at the July 16 meeting, it appeared that City Council was ready to waive the requirement altogether, satisfied with Hale and Verdon’s pledge to partner with local restaurants to encourage patrons to bring their food into the tap room.

Hale and Verdon also requested that their tap room be allowed to remain open until midnight on weekends, to which the council seemed amenable.

City staff is working on finalizing the brew pub liquor license and zoning amendments. Barring any unforeseen complications, tap rooms should be legal in downtown Hopkins by the end of August.

Living the dream

“Naming our brewery is one of the hardest things we had to do, and after a while Blake and I just said, ‘We’re going to live our dream, and we also want to encourage other people to live their dream,’ ” said Hale.

Five percent of Live the Dream’s profits will be used to create the “What’s Your Dream Fund,” which will assist charity organizations that help other people live out their dreams.

Hale and Verdon started brewing eight years ago, when they were both students at the University of Minnesota. About three years ago the pair built a professional setup in Hale’s basement, which is where they developed and perfected their brewing recipes.

Five different beers will be on tap at Live the Dream. A Kolsch-style lager, a triple IPA and an Irish stout always will be available, and the two remaining taps will rotate among a variety of different recipes.

“We’re still talking about the other two taps, but we know it’s going to be a whole slew of different types of beers,” said Hale.

Live the Dream will focus on fostering a family-friendly atmosphere and will offer handmade sodas in addition to its beers. Board games will be available at tables to entertain groups that come in.

Hale said they hope to eventually sell their beer at local liquor stores and will try to partner with local restaurants to brew special contract beers available exclusively for those locations.

Hale and Verdon, who live in Crystal and St. Paul, respectively, had wanted to open up shop in northeast Minneapolis to be a part of the burgeoning brewery scene happening there. When those plans didn’t work out, they looked to Hopkins after hearing it was looking to attract a brewery downtown.

“We knew that downtown Hopkins had some prime real estate available on Mainstreet, and we also knew that there’s condos going in that will really bring a younger crowd into Hopkins, as well as the light rail in the future. We feel it’s a perfect market for us,” said Hale.

The brewer duo has hired a business consultant and expects to spend four to six months going through the federal licensing process. They are meeting with an architect this week and soon will decide between two locations — one at 8th Avenue and Mainstreet and one at 10th Avenue and Mainstreet.

They expect construction and renovations to take eight to 12 months.

 

Ben Johnson • 612-673-4499







 

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