Brooklyn Park is poised to tap into the taproom and craft cocktail craze.

The City Council is expected to allow breweries and distilleries to have on-site tasting in taprooms and cocktail rooms in some parts of the city. The new tasting rooms will function similarly to bars, but with some differences. There will be limits on the amount of samples they can serve each customer. The taprooms and cocktail rooms won't be required to serve food.

Changes in state law in recent years allow for taprooms and cocktail rooms. Neighboring Brooklyn Center led the way so Surly Brewing Co. could open a taproom with on-site tasting.

A couple interested in opening a distillery in Brooklyn Park is prompting the ordinance change.

Tyson and Mary Schnitker are in the process of opening a Brooklyn Park distillery called Skaalvenn, which is Norwegian for "Toast to Friends" and is a nod to Tyson's heritage.

Their business will be at 8601 73rd Av. N., suite 28. They are now awaiting city, state and federal approvals.

"We are just a husband and wife trying to start up the classic American dream of a business. We don't have investors. We don't come from money. Literally, we are just taking our savings and a small personal loan," said Tyson Schnitker.

Exactly what spirits they'll be distilling is top secret for now. Tyson Schnitker promises there will be some specialty items.

"We love to go out and travel and try what the bartenders and mixologists have been coming up with across the country," he said. "It's amazing. We want to incorporate some of the things we've learned during our travels."

The adventurous couple has logged more than 20,000 miles on road trips visiting 20 states and Mexico.

Tyson Schnitker said he's taken some classes at distilleries around the country. He served in the Army National Guard as a combat medic for six years, including a deployment to Kuwait. He is now in the Air National Guard. Mary is as an aesthetician with a knack for detecting and identifying subtleties in wine and spirits. The goal is to be up and running by early 2015. The cocktail room is further down the road.

For more about Skaalvenn Distillery, go to

Shannon Prather • 612-673-4804