UPDATE October 23, 2014: Waconia Brewing is now open
When Bob and Pete DeLange open the doors of Waconia Brewing Company this October they, like their brother Kevin, will officially hold the title of “brewery owner.” Perhaps partially spurred by a little sibling rivalry with Kevin, the co-founder of Colorado’s award-winning Dry Dock Brewing, Pete and Bob are bringing brewing back to a town that hasn’t had a brewery in operation since at least 1890.
Pete, a homebrewer, has been living in Waconia for 20 years and Bob, who worked in fermentation science at Cargill, moved to Minnesota from Iowa recently. The two hired Tom Schufman, who was the assistant brewer at Fulton for the past two years and previously worked at Northern Brewer, to head up the brewing operations at Waconia Brewing.
“I think that Waconia is really a blossoming city,” Schufman said. And in the realm of beverages, it certainly is—the city currently has three wineries and a distillery. “I think it’s becoming a destination.”
The Waconia Brewing team hopes to attract people from the community as well as visitors to town into the 5,000 sq ft brewery, which includes a 2,500 sq ft taproom where pints and growlers will be available for purchase. Kevin DeLange’s expertise along with Schufman’s experience at Fulton Brewing during its recent brewery expansion has helped in getting Waconia Brewing set up to brew.
“I learned a lot from [Fulton’s] ever-changing 414 brewery […] and watching what’s happened at the new brewery,” said Schufman, “I’ve brought that knowledge to Waconia.”
Schufman began homebrewing ten years ago while at college in Bemidji and would make trips to the Twin Cities to buy ingredients. After earning a degree in Environmental Science, he took a tour of Summit Brewing and volunteered his time packaging their sample packs. From there he worked at Northern Brewer and ended up as the assistant brewer of Fulton Brewing.
He will be at the helm of a 10 bbl brewhouse equipped with four 20 bbl fermenters and eight brite tanks to serve their “approachable ales for approachable people,” according to Schufman. The brewery will have several flagships including a Kölsch, witbier, amber ale, and a west coast IPA. In addition to the flagships he plans to rotate many different styles to find out the tastes of the town.
The brewery is in the heart of Waconia, which has a vibrant downtown district, a big lake culture, and several bike trails. They will add a patio next spring or early summer to enjoy pints outdoors. Patrons will be able to get the beer in growlers at the brewery and on draft at local establishments in the West Metro.
Brewer: Tom Schufman
Beer: Kölsch, Witbier, Amber Ale, West Coast IPA, and rotating seasonals
Visit: 255 Main St W, Waconia, MN