Come mid-September there may be some new beers brewing in South Minneapolis. That’s because Jamie Robinson, Amy Johnson, and Bryce Strickler have tentatively scheduled that timeframe as the opening of the newest brewpub in town called Northbound Smokehouse just off the light rail at 38th and 28th Avenue South.
This, however, will not be a typical brewpub where the focus is solely on the beer. “I think when people look at brewpubs they say that the food is not that great but the beer is good,” said Jamie.
The focus here will be on both the beer and the food thanks largely to the cooking expertise of Bryce Strickland, who has 10 years of kitchen experience and a passion for making great food. “I am very proud to have cooked at two fine establishments on the Iron Range: the Whistling Bird and the El-Roy. As both have helped me to become the cook that I am today,” said Bryce, who is also the former cook at Town Hall Brewery.
You can expect to see a lot of smoked meat on their menu including turkey, beef, and pork as well as trout, whitefish, and salmon. The menu will also feature smoked vegetarian options for those who do not eat meat and many of the menu items will be prepared with the beer that is made in-house by brewer Jamie Robinson.
Jamie, who learned a thing or two about brewing at Town Hall Brewery, will be crafting 4 year-round beers on his 7-barrel system. He named one of them, Big Jim IPA, after his father. Jim stands only 5 foot 4 inches but he is a stout man in that frame. “Big Jim will be a big beer in a pint-sized glass,” said Jamie. Coming in at 7.2 ABV and sporting 90 IBU’s one can see what he is talking about.
The beer menu will also feature Light Rail Pale Ale, which will be dry-hopped for an intense hop aroma and will weigh in around 5.3 ABV. Smokehouse Porter will be made with smoked malts and have more of a caramel flavor than a roasted flavor and at 6.2 ABV it will be a beer that can be enjoyed in any season. The Honey Wheat will be a honey-forward beer that promises to be a hit on their 54-seat, outdoor patio all summer long. At 5.2 ABV you can have a couple of these on those hot July days.
Jamie is not stopping at just 4 year-round beers. He also plans to make some seasonal varieties; the first of which will be a single hop IPA made with Columbus hops and a Wild Rice Amber Ale which will have some vanilla notes to it.
The inside of the brewpub will seat 76 people. Amy Johnson and her staff of 30 employees will be prepared to help even the most novice beer drinker find a beer they will like on the menu. “Our servers will be able to talk about the flavors of our beer,” said Amy, who will run the front of the house. Amy will bring her three years of serving experience at Stub and Herbs in Dinkytown and a Hotel/Restaurant degree to Northbound Smokehouse.
How did Northbound Smokehouse begin? Jamie and Amy met online a little over four years ago and Amy remembers that Jamie had said he wanted to own a brewpub. Similarly, when Jamie met Bryce back in 2008, Bryce had a vision. When Jamie asked what his story was Bryce said, “I’m just working my way, trying to open my own restaurant... No, I will open my own restaurant.” A year ago, the trio began taking on investors who would put $1,000 down and, in return, get free beer for life at the brewpub. The project was a success and their dreams were one step closer to coming true.
Now that the three of them have joined together, each one specializing in their own area, it is up to them to see their dream through. “Everyone will have their own creative license,” said Amy. Meaning that each of them will put their own stamp on their area of responsibility. If this trio has their way, both beer geeks and foodies alike will be flocking “northbound.”