Things are hopping again in Red WingIt’s taken nearly five years of research, piles and piles of legal and regulation paperwork, dozens of brewery tours and one year of actual construction.
By: Sarah Gorvin, The Republican Eagle
It’s taken nearly five years of research, piles and piles of legal and regulation paperwork, dozens of brewery tours and one year of actual construction.
But the first weekend in December, William Norman and Scott Kolby officially opened the doors on Red Wing Brewery, the first brewery to operate in Red Wing in more than 60 years.
“Throughout the whole thing, we had the faith to keep going,” Norman said.
“We always felt it was worth it,” Kolby said.
The pair purchased the space at 1411 Old West Main St. about a year ago. The location, just down the street from where two of the city’s historical breweries once sat, is perfectly in line with Red Wing’s brewing history, they said.
“This is really the old brewery district of Red Wing that we’re located in,” Kolby said.
Norman and Kolby worked with local contractors to overhaul the storefront. Now the space boasts a long bar bordering the south wall, a custom brew house (which accommodates the brewing kettles and fermenters) and a small kitchen.
The brewery has a maximum capacity of 49 people. Kolby and Norman said they’d like to add more space someday. But they said they don’t plan to expand to other cities, and they want to make sure they don’t focus solely on the city’s tourists.
“We want a place where the locals can come and feel comfortable,” Norman said.
“The brewery is for Red Wing now, and it always will be,” Kolby added.
To come up with their brews, Norman and Kolby spent years researching beer and poring over history books. At the Goodhue County History Center, the pair found letters — dated from the late 1800s — that Red Wing brewers wrote to chemists in Chicago. In the letters, the brewers sent details of their recipes for the chemists to critique.
Reading through those documents was how Kolby and Norman pieced together the recipe for Remmler’s Royal Brew beer, which hasn’t been produced in Red Wing since the early 1900s.
The other historical beer on tap at the brewery, Red Wing Premium, is based on a 1913 recipe.
The pair has also borrowed names and styles from some of Red Wing’s other historical brews to round out the list of the 15 beers they’re licensed to make. For example, their Cokins isn’t an exact replica of the one brewed in Red Wing decades ago; that recipe was lost. But Norman said their version is in the same style as the original Cokins.
“That will be our take on it,” Norman said.
Diane Buganski, Goodhue County Historical Society’s librarian, said she has helped Kolby and Norman with their research on and off for about a year.
“When it’s a couple guys coming in looking for information on beer, that was fun,” Buganski said, adding that she’s glad Red Wing’s brewing history has been tied into the new brewery.
In addition to finding documents and letters, Buganski also helped Kolby and Norman find old photos of Red Wing’s breweries. Now, some of those historic photos are on display at the business.
Currently, the brewery produces 186 gallons of beer a week. Depending on how business and the production process go, that could double in the coming weeks, Kolby said. The partners hope to begin selling growlers in the near future as well.
In addition to their original beers, Kolby and Norman will serve a selection of guest beers, local wines and their own Zimmie’s root beer.
The brewery serves soups and sandwiches to go with the drinks. Hanisch Bakery is supplying the bread — including a special one made from the same grains used to make the brewery’s beers; Buchanan’s Grocery supplies meats.
“We try to do as much local as we can,” Norman said.
So far, Red Wing Brewery is run entirely by Kolby and Norman. Brewing generally takes up two days during the first part of the week, with the brewery open for business Thursday through Sunday.
Though opening Red Wing Brewery has been a long process, both Kolby and Norman said the support from local organizations and residents helped along the way.
The pair said the Red Wing City Council went out of its way to rewrite a city ordinance that banned a brew pub from being built in Red Wing.
The pair also received funding, in the form of low-interest loans, from the Red Wing Port Authority and the Red Wing Economic Incubator.
Norman and Kolby credit the incubator, the first organization to provide funding, with giving them the credibility that allowed them to borrow money in larger amounts from other lenders.
“It was the catalyst that set a lot in motion,” Kolby said of the incubator.
A $50,000 small cities program loan from the Red Wing Housing and Redevelopment Authority also helped get the brewery operating. HRA Executive Director Randal Hemmerlin said the brewery will help bring more people to Old West Main Street, an area his organization is helping to reinvigorate.
“It really helps create a more vibrant area down there,” he said. “I see it as a destination area.”
Hemmerlin said the brewery is already starting to transform Old West Main. Neighboring businesses have seen the work being done on the brewery and upgraded their storefronts to match, he said.
Another advantage, Hemmerlin added, is that brew pubs are extremely popular right now, and Red Wing Brewery will be its own attraction.
“Let’s face it,” he said. “Every community wants to have a brew pub. The fact that Red Wing has one now is a real notch in the belt.”
What: Red Wing Brewery
Where: 1411 Old West Main St.
Hours: 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Thursday; 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Friday-Saturday; 12-8 p.m. Sunday
More info: www.redwingbrewing.com, 651-327-2200, email@example.com