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612Brew co-founder and brewer Robert Kasak chatted with patrons.

Bre McGee, Special to the Star Tribune

612Brew offers of a flight of four beers for $11: from left, Six, Rated R, Zero Hour, Bitter Cold Winter IPA Series #1.

Bre McGee, Special to the Star Tribune

612Brew hits craft-beer-crazed northeast Mpls.

  • Article by: MICHAEL RIETMULDER
  • Special to the Star Tribune
  • February 15, 2013 - 4:30 PM

Move over, painters, sculptors and glass-blowers. A new breed of artisan has taken over northeast Minneapolis.

Long known for its arts community, the neighborhood has turned into the Twin Cities’ brewing capital almost overnight. Joining Boom Island and Indeed Brewing, three breweries have opened in the area in the past three weeks. The latest, 612Brew, unveiled its anticipated taproom Wednesday.

“We really feel we’re in a hotspot for the brewing community,” said 612Brew co-owner Robert Kasak.

Four breweries now call the blue-collar and hipster-friendly neighborhood home, and a fifth— Boom Island Brewing Co. — is nearby. While Boom Island and the newly opened Northgate Brewing do not have taprooms, beer fans can post up for a pint at 612Brew, Indeed and Dangerous Man Brewing Co., which are within about a mile of one another.

Kasak, 612Brew’s beer-making brains, and his co-owners signed the lease on their 4,800-square-foot space last May. The other owners are Ryan Libby, Jamey Rossbach and Adit Kalra. The brewery is the anchor tenant in a warehouse renovated by developer Peter Remes, who was also behind Eat Street’s Icehouse Plaza in south Minneapolis.

Kasak said they initially signed a lease on another nearby space ideal for a production brewery. But once the Surly bill passed, paving the way for breweries to sell beer on-site, the 612Brew brass re-evaluated its business plan to include a “world-class taproom.” Despite a smaller footprint and higher rent, Kasak & Co. opted for their current location on Broadway and Central Av. NE.

“Everything was designed with the taproom in mind, rather than having to try and retrofit our building,” he said.

The 43-seat taproom features a bar and tables crafted with wood from an Iowa bowling alley bought by Libby’s brother-in-law, and a 15-by-15-foot mural painted by local artist Adam Turman, who also did Butcher & the Boar’s exterior mural. Kasak said patrons will have access to the building’s shared amphitheater, which he expects will be completed by June.

With help from brewer Adam Schill, who cut his chops with Magic Hat, Cold Spring and Tyranena, 612Brew’s initial four-beer fleet emphasizes lower alcohol content. There’s a rye IPA, a pale ale, a taproom-only black ale and a hops-bursting winter seasonal IPA. Kasak said they plan to release a lager brewed with 25 pounds of ginger this spring. 612Brew will partner with local food trucks and eventually serve Indian street food from Kalra’s family’s Tandoor restaurant.

Since announcing their suds-slinging intentions in 2010, Kasak admits he’s weathered jabs about why it took 612Brew so long to bring its beer to market. “People would say, ‘What is this, a T-shirt company?’ ” he recalled.

The delay isn’t for lack of work ethic. Between his brewery duties and his day job at an ad agency, Libby said he often works from 5:30 a.m. until midnight. While raising two kids, Kasak had been going to Concordia University and working full-time the past four years.

Kasak says he can handle the knocks. The homebrewer-turned-pro seems as proud of his beers as he is of his 3.97 GPA. “We’re coming to market with a product that’s absolutely terrific,” he boasts. “I think people are going to be able to say, when they walk in the taproom, that it’s worth the wait.”

 

612brew

Where: 945 NE. Broadway, Mpls.

Hours: 4-10 p.m. Wed.-Thu., 2:30 p.m.-midnight Fri., noon-midnight Sat.

Info: 612-217-0437, www. 612brew.com

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