Partners quickly brew up a winnerRed Wing Brewery was voted newcomer of the year by Red Wing Area Chamber of Commerce members after less than two months of operation.
By: Rebecca Rudolph, The Republican Eagle
Editor’s note: This the fourth of five stories about the 2012 Red Wing Area Chamber of Commerce award-winners.
Red Wing Brewery was voted newcomer of the year by Red Wing Area Chamber of Commerce members after less than two months of operation.
The timing came as a surprise to business partners Scott Kolby and William “Norm” Norman.
“You know, it was definitely an honor,” Norman said. “It was really cool to get that award.”
When the business opened Dec. 6, the two craft brewers were taking a step into something new for both of them. They had been brewing together, but opening a business was something neither had done before.
“I was actually pretty scared to be honest with you,” Norman said. “You know, it doesn’t matter how much you know or how well-versed you are in something if you can’t take that leap. That’s the big thing.”
And leap they did. They brought in touches of Red Wing history, such as through old beer recipes and labels from 61 years ago, and customers started coming into the brew-pub on Old West Main Street.
Employee Wes O’Brien said one day when he came in to the brewery to pick something up, he felt like he had to push through all the people who were there. That is something he did not expect to see.
“We’ve had a lot of local people coming in and they’ve been super fired up about it,” Norman said.
Norman and Kolby have taken a special interest in the city of Red Wing. Every town or city has a local flavor, Kolby said, and the brewery wanted to include Red Wing’s.
“This is something we intended for Red Wing and will always be a part of Red Wing,” Kolby said.
If they wanted to bottle beer and distribute it, they would have to separate themselves from the brewpub, but early on they agreed that was not something they wanted to do.
“A Red Wing beer sitting on a shelf in a Hastings’ liquor store won’t mean as much as it will to somebody who is visiting Red Wing and they’re here and they’re enjoying something that’s authentically from this city,” Kolby said.
Keeping up with the demand has been a challenge, but one they said they are prepared to meet by hiring more staff.
“I’m just excited to expand to the point where we can focus on the brewing and really good customer service,” Norman said.
“The challenges of the unexpected are always there, they’re always prevalent, but based on how it’s gone so far and how the public has received the brewery and the support we’ve gotten, we have nothing but great hopes,” Kolby said.
“It’s been a fun adventure so far and get in the community,” Norman said.