When Fulton Beer first launched its brand, it worked out of a Wisconsin brewery. Boom Island Brewing got off the ground easily enough, but its brewing floor is the size of an efficiency apartment. Surly might be a top dog now, but it started in the family's industrial abrasives warehouse.
Brewing conditions haven't always been ideal for Minnesota's upstart breweries. That's not the case with Indeed Brewing, which opens Friday in northeast Minneapolis. In many ways, Indeed is the first brewery of the post-Surly Bill era to come out of the womb fully formed and ready for the craft-beer masses.
Taprooms are all the rage right now. But the few breweries that have opened a pint-selling operation did so on the fly, reacting to last year's change in Minnesota law.
Indeed's gorgeous 12,000-square-foot facility is located in a rehabbed century-old warehouse just a few doors down from Uppercut Boxing Gym. It contains a 30-barrel brewing system (the same size as Surly's) and a canning line that can shoot out 36 brews a minute.
Its jewel, however, is the taproom, which looks more like a real bar than any that have come before it. The cozy, old-world pub features a 37-foot-long white-oak bar and vintage furniture scavenged from the old Miller Publishing Company's club room. There's also a 45-seat patio.
"We're calling the taproom our living room," joked co-owner Tom Whisenand.
The young founders are three former journalists (Whisenand, along with Nathan Berndt and Rachel Anderson). I'd like to think it was their detail-intensive profession that led them to opening such a well-executed brewery (take me with you!). They definitely did their research by hiring former Town Hall brewer Josh Bischoff, who's dreamed up some hop-heavy flagship beers.
The Day Tripper is a pale ale brewed with a whopping four pounds of hops per barrel -- the aroma hits your nose like a semi truck. The Midnight Ryder (named after Bischoff's son) is an American Black Ale that produces a smattering of dark flavors. The cans themselves are a work of art, designed by Minneapolis poster artist Chuck U.
Indeed will soon be joined in the neighborhood by three other breweries -- Dangerous Man, 612Brew and Northgate.
"They're tapping into an existing history," said the ward's Council Member, Kevin Reich. "When brewing took place in the early days of Minneapolis, it was right here in Northeast."
With Indeed leading the way, Reich is calling this Minneapolis corridor the "Brew District."
Let's not all move to Northeast at once, OK?