On a recent trip to the ‘great plains’ of southwestern Minnesota – one which was taken with the intention of running a 5K and turned into a weekend of paninos, burgers and – to my great surprise and elation – a trip down craft beer memory lane. In a college town (SMSU) known for it’s entrepreneurial ice cream business (Schwan’s) as much as the stench that can sometime emanate from the corn processing plant, the town will now be known as the home of one of Minnesota’s veteran breweries, the expanding but small at heart Brau Brothers Brewing Co. As it happened, a college buddy knows Trevor Brau (one of the brothers – obviously) and we were able to take a personal tour.
Walking into the former Runnings building, I had no idea what to expect. My eyes were drawn directly to a large deep red antique fire engine, Old #56 from Lucan – which will now serve the brothers as their bar and tap area. The 37,000 square foot facility will house more fermenters and will allow the brewery to brew specialty beers for the taproom. The space will also feature soda and will have a restaurant to boot (thanks to the so-called ‘Surly Bill’) – with a menu created by head brewer Dustin Brau. As we walked the brewery grounds – with construction ongoing – I realized how innovative this family was. The Braus still utilize land in Lucan to grow hops to be used in their fresh-hopped 100 Yard Dash – which they process on a conveyer system they created using kegs and other pullies. Later on the tour, while sipping on Brau’s White Cap (Crystal Wit beer) and enjoying the hop aroma filled cooler, I found out the previous brewery was barely the size of the room I now found myself freezing in. With seven times the space, the brewery also has a section for all sorts of swag below a glowing neon Brau Brothers sign.
Brau Brothers Brewing has come a long way since they started in nearby Lucan (pop. 220) in 1998 as a brewpub (BrauHaus) and expanded to a production brewery in 2006. Beyond having great beer, the Braus hold a special place in my heart. My journey into craft beer, as with many beer geeks, started with Sam Adams – the readily available, extremely successful Jim Koch-led brewery out of Boston, Mass. But my introduction into the Minnesota craft scene some 8+ years ago began with Brau Brothers Scotch Ale and Cream Stout (now retired and refashioned under Bancreagie & MooJoos, respectively) – these beers were a revelation of high quality beer, made locally and drank locally by the students at SMSU – including me.
The Brau Brothers new restaurant-brewery-taproom opened October 4th(soft opening). Until I am able to emote in person the thanks they deserve – CHEERS – wishing Brau Brothers Brewing Company a great opening and for making a great product right in southwestern Minnesota!
1101 East Main Street Marshall, MN 56258
Follow Brau: @BrauBeer
Follow Me: @TallPour