‘It takes a village to build a brewery’

The craft beer community has been growing rapidly in recent years and with that comes great beer that is personal, local and has character. The epitome of such a description can be assessed to a local craft brewery opening in February right here in St. Cloud.

“It takes a village to build a brewery,” said Nick Barth, one of the co-founders to Beaver Island Brewery, the first brewery in St. Cloud since 1939.

Beaver Island Brewery is a new name to most people, yet the brewery that is still in the making will hold years and years of the community’s history in its taproom. When stepping into the Beaver Island taproom and brewery, everything from the bar top to the brick work and even the wood is all salvaged from St. Cloud, which is almost necessary to match the uniqueness of the beer that is brewed there.

“We wanted to pull everything from the community because it truly is a brewery for the community; we want people to walk into other markets or in St. Cloud and ask for our beer proudly because it’s really theirs,” said Barth who also runs Nick’s Third Floor at D.B. Searle’s.

Confidence is high, not only between the staff of the brewery but in the community of St. Cloud as well. Anticipation is high and community anxiousness is even higher, due to a few setbacks that the brewery has faced, the community is ready for the brewery to open now more then ever.

With Brew master Chris Laumb and 18 years of experience under his belt, the beer being produced has wisdom to it. Right now, the Beaver Island Brewery has only made one debut to the public, which was this past weekend at the St. Cloud Craft Beer Tour.

The Beaver Island Brewery has five different products piloted right now including their flagship, Ripple, which is a German Kolsch lager as well as, 39, which is their red IPA, Union suit an in-your-face 9.1% alcohol content beer and lane 5. All of which are beers that they believe have character and uniqueness that can only be found at their brewery and other bars and restaurants that decide to put Beaver Island product on their tap lines.

Many people would think that it would be a financial liability to put a craft brewery where a beer will run the average person between $4 and $6 dollars, however Barth, as well as others in the craft beer community, see a different demographic.

“The craft demographic is an interesting one and we are starting to see the lines get blurred when we first got into looking at the statistics the magic number was 25 to 45, but interestingly as I look around, I am seeing more over the age over 45 consuming craft beer and lots of people under the age, and by under the age I mean 21 to 25, consuming more craft beer,” said Barth.

Barth also said that he has noticed more college kids spending $15 on a good six pack of craft beer rather then a suitcase of a light lager which emphasizes the caliber of the craft beer community. The craft beer culture and demographic is not only more financially stable, which might mean they’re willing to spend more for a quality craft beer, rather then the quantity of a light beer that can be mass produced.

The “taste revolution,” as Barth calls it, is the Beaver Island Brewery’s one last piece of St. Cloud history, which is probably the strongest root to the community of St. Cloud, and it’s in the name.

Barth explained the story behind the name, which stems from the famous explorer Zebulon Pike, who is most famous for finding Pikes peak in Colorado. Zebulon Pike was told to go on another expedition in 1803 to find the mouth of the Mississippi river. Traveling up stream, Pike ran into a section of the river that was largely covered in beaver dams. That sector of the river just happened to be just east of where St. Cloud State University is today. Since the islands on the Mississippi were clogged with beaver dams when he approached St. Cloud, he decided to name the islands the “Beaver Islands” and instead of continuing his voyage, he decided to settle in St. Cloud.

Barth is amazed on how close Pike was to finding the mouth of the Mississippi, but never did.

Beaver Island Brewery will be here for the community for a long time to come and with high anticipation from the entire St. Cloud community success may be eminent. However, no matter how successful they may become, co-owners Nick Barth and Matt Studer both have emphasized on how important they want this brewery to mean to the community that built it.

“We care a lot about it, we want it to not only be successful but also something that the community is proud of. I can’t stress how important it is to be a positive member of the community and to continue to see this grow in a way that [someone from] St. Cloud can hopefully walk into Denver, Colo. and on tap, at Falling Rock, which is their premier craft bar, can see too Beaver Island taps. I don’t know that that will happen but we shoot for the stars, we really want to see this to be an iconic brewery right out of St. Cloud, Minn.,” said Barth.

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