Moose Lake Star Gazette - Serving Carlton and Pine Counties Since 1895

By Lois E. Johnson
Moose Lake Star Gazette 

Anticipation builds for brewery

Business partners await final licensing before opening doors

 

Lois E. Johnson

Ron Anick, Paul Christensen and Shawn Wigg are bringing a brewery to Moose Lake. After the taproom opens, people will be able to sample several varieties of beer in glasses served in the cedar flights shown on the table, and take a growler of beer home with them.

A brewery is coming to Moose Lake. Partners Shawn Wigg of Willow River, Paul Christensen and Ron Anick, both of Moose Lake, closed on the purchase of the former SOW warehouse, located next to Lakeside Traders, on Thursday, August 27.

The partners will be operating the Moose Lake Brewing Company at the site, with a taproom where people can try the beers before buying a growler (a half gallon jug) to take home.

"This won't be a place where people can sit for five hours," said Wigg. "People can come and sample the beers, socialize and then take home a growler."

The building is well suited for the business, with a taproom overlooking Moosehead Lake on Lakeshore Drive. The warehouse portion is visible from Arrowhead Lane, and is where the brewing will take place.

"The brewing will take place right behind the taproom," said Anick, who will use his 15 years of brewing experience in the new venture.

"I purchased my first extract brewing kit in Duluth in 2000, he explained. "Now there are a lot of specialty beers and standard beers, like stouts, lagers, porters or grapefruit beer on tap," he explained.

Wigg added, "People have experimented with pumpkin, cantaloupe and LSD beer. LSD beer is made from lavender, sunflower oil and dates."

"If you can think it and it doesn't kill you, someone is going to make beer out of it," said Anick.

Four flagship beers will be available at the Moose Lake Brewing Company: ale, IPA, porter and stout. "Those will be our flagship beers, available all year around," said Anick. "We will have two or three specialty beers on a seasonal basis. We will always be changing, always rotating. People will see some variety. For example, we will have one kind of a specialty beer in June and a different kind in August."

The three partners are pleased they found such an excellent site for their new business. Windows in the taproom overlook the lake, to which they connect in their personal lives and in the history of the area.

"My grandpa used to take me fishing near here," said Wigg.

"I have seen the lake at all times of the day and evening," said Anick. "I like the morning mist and in the evening when the wind dies down and the lake is quiet. The lake projects a quiet atmosphere. There is only one other brewery with a view of a lake, and that is in the Cities."

The taproom itself needs very little remodeling. The tile floor and tongue and groove paneling on the walls will be enhanced with tools once used for sawing wood.

"We have heard stories about the lake being covered with logs at one time," said Christensen. "We plan to go to the historical society and find photos we can display on the wall. I think that is what people will find intriguing."

The taproom will not have food service to go with the beer.

"Our licensure does not allow us to serve food," said Anick. "But we are going to talk to a couple different restaurants and see if they will deliver food here. That will help the brewery integrate itself into the community."

The partners have received support from the city council. A modification to the liquor sales ordinance was approved at the August 12 meeting.

"It is nice to see support from the community and from the city council," said Christensen.

"I was in the bank in Sandstone the other day, and the teller asked me if I was one of the people opening the brewery in Moose Lake," said Wigg. "Word is getting around."

Even though the modification to the liquor sales ordinance has been approved and the building is now owned by the partners, there is one more step before they can open the business.

"We still need federal licensing," said Wigg. "That can take anywhere from 90 days to 160 days."

It's been a long journey since the three partners discovered their common interest and decided to go into business together.

"We started all of this back in April," said Anick. "It's a pretty big step to close on the sale of the building. We are looking forward to December and getting it going. Because of the time involved in getting the federal license, we might not be able to open until early next year."

Meanwhile, the three friends will be making changes to the building for the brewery and plan to invest their spare time in bringing the business up to speed.

Anick's full-time job is as an RN with Mercy Home Care, Christensen works for the Department of Human Services in the vocational program, and Wigg sets up the entertainment at the Grand Casinos in Hinckley and Mille Lacs, and at Eddie's Resort on Mille Lacs.

"We'll see how it shakes out in the next couple of months and see what we need," said Anick. "We want everyone to know we are a fully functioning brewery. We plan to hire staff later."

Anick explained the brewery will have a 3.5 barrel system. A barrel contains 31 gallons. The brewery will have a 15-gallon pilot system that will be used to brew smaller batches of promotional beers or for recipe development.

"We will be able to produce over 100 gallons of beer per brewing season," he added. "With the system in place we will be able to provide kegs of beer to bars, restaurants and taverns. Or people can come here, sample the beers on tap, and then bring a growler of beer home with them."

The brewing community is different from the usual competitive environment found in business.

"Brewers are a cooperative," said Anick. "They like to talk brewing, even to the point of sharing recipes. We have a collection of empty growlers from other breweries to display on a shelf, and we look forward to becoming part of the game plan when other brewers put our growlers on their shelves."

As the partners envision the future of the business, they are looking forward to both local people and visitors discovering the brewery.

"We are looking forward to people coming to Moose Lake for fishing and hunting," said Christensen. "It will be pretty amazing to promote our business in our home town."

Find updates about the progress of the brewery on Facebook under Moose Lake Brewing Co.

 

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