Excelsior expands [new & improved]
A wave of brewery expansion is taking place right now in the Twin Cities. While new breweries are still cropping up, others are moving, changing, and knocking down walls. [new & improved] takes a look at these places.
My first visit to Excelsior Brewing on the far west side of the Twin Cities didn’t allow me much time to investigate the place. What I did learn, however, was that the brewery is beloved, especially by locals, and that people arrive by bus load to check out the operation.
But to anyone who has visited, it is also evident that Excelsior didn’t exactly have an inviting taproom in mind within the build of their production-focused brewery:
I am happy to announce that since Tuesday, sledge hammers have been flying in preparation for the brewery to expand into the rest of the oblong building. This change will roughly quadruple their space and will include a taproom. I had the opportunity to witness some walls coming down on day one of demolishment.
They have quite the project ahead of them.
The building, which was once a car dealership and body shop, has been used for multiple purposes over the years. After my quick evaluation, I’m guessing that one of those purposes was testing flooring, paint, wallpaper, and crown molding options.
Despite the dated and patchworky decor, It is very possible to envision a summer patio, an inviting taproom, and a seriously huge brewhouse and bottling line.
New expansions are taking place within the beer itself, too, from their very popular winter seasonal, the Oar Lock Stout, to the prospective increase in cask production including pins, firkins, and kilderkins. Keep your ears open for the potential series of Firkin Thursdays at the brewery.
Currently in the works are pins of stout for Firkin Fest aged on cacao, hand-harvested spruce tips, and organic vanilla.
I chatted with head brewer Bob DuVernois and assistant brewer Niles Lewin about their upcoming beers. Bob, who is very experienced with cask after years at St. Paul’s Great Waters, is excited about the opportunity to cask the stout using different ingredients. Although the spruce tips will come from out of state this season, in the spring he plans to harvest the tips himself.
During my visit I enjoyed the second iteration of their annual brew, Mr. Jimmy’s. Named after a former Excelsior resident, it is a dark ale aged on cacao nibs and tart cherries. The cherry flavor comes through nicely with a hint of chocolate that hits the palate a bit later.
Although there is no doubt that this taproom is booming in the summer as compared to the below-zero day that I visited, the brewery has many upcoming events and has a presence at all local beer festivals.
And while you’re waiting for the expansion to be complete, which hopefully will fall in mid-April, many of Excelsior’s brews are available in bottles around the Twin Cities including their regulars and their winter seasonal.
Try the XLCR pale, Big Island Blond, and Bitteschlappe Brown to keep warm until spring.
Thanks to the brewers and construction staff who let me party crash for a bit, and best of luck with the new digs.