The wait is over. Fridley, Minnesota, you have now officially been baptized into the Twin Cities brewery scene. Located in one of Minnesota’s most historic buildings, in the sprawling Northern Stacks complex off East River Road, Forgotten Star Brewing Co. is an overdue and much-anticipated addition to the craft brewing congregation of the metro.
“[The building owner Paul Hyde’s] been trying to occupy this space with a brewery for, I think the last five years,” says head brewer Matt Asay, who comes to Forgotten Star after spending the last five years at The Freehouse in Minneapolis. Asay is a co-owner of Forgotten Star along with Andy and Nicole Risvold, Corey and Christy Weber, and Nate and Andrea Zuidema. “This was the fourth space we looked at and it’s a great space. It’s big. It gives us room to grow. The city of Fridley has been awesome. They’re so excited to be part of the club and have their own brewery.”
Forgotten Star sits on a patch of land just off the major arteries of 694 and 94. A clear view of downtown Minneapolis can be seen through the large south-facing window of the taproom. It’s a space that will serve as a great location for craft beer enthusiasts of the northern suburbs and for those located in Minneapolis and St. Paul proper as well.
“It’s kind of the area where a lot of different demographics start to collide,” says taproom manager Lily Altemose.
Forgotten Star will also be a welcome addition to the Northern Stacks Complex, which is home to close to a dozen companies but no bars or restaurants.
“There’s almost 2,000 employees just in this complex,” Asay says. “So we really want to be their ‘Cheers’ bar.”
While the grand opening of Forgotten Star Brewing Co. on November 16 certainly means big things for the future, Fridley’s first brewery is just as committed to preserving its building’s rich history as it is to serving quality craft beer to the community.
“This place has a lot of history. This whole facility used to be one standalone building. It was the largest single-site facility until they built the Mall of America,” says Asay. “They used to make [water] pumps for firefighters in the 1920s and 30s. When World War II started they switched from making pumps to making artillery for the U.S. Navy. The taproom used to be the boiler room that powered the whole facility.”
The brewery is all that remains of that original facility, which was essential during WWII.
“Those stars (on the stacks) are actually Navy Battle E Awards for excellence and efficiency in production for the war effort,” says Asay. “If they won the award once and maintained that standard for six months, they’d win it again.”
There are six Navy Battle E stars and one “E” (which commemorates the first award) painted on the stacks towering above Forgotten Star Brewing Co.—an unprecedented recognition of excellence and efficiency for the era.
“There were 80,000 facilities in the country that won the award once,” says Asay, “but there were only eight that won it that many times, and this is one of two that are still standing. It was a really important piece of the puzzle to the World War II victory.”
For the last few years, this building that was so essential to one of the most crucial periods of American history has stood vacant. Now the people of Fridley and the surrounding area who had family members contribute to the excellence and efficiency of the war effort can celebrate inside the space and raise a glass to their history and achievements.
“That tagline, ‘Excellence and Efficiency,’ is such an easy thing to tie into brewing,” says Asay. “For our beers, we want to take a traditional approach and celebrate the history. I want to brew celebrated traditions. We want to have a full spectrum and appeal to everyone’s tastes. Something I want to focus on is to do everything with intention, and do it well.”
Asay expects to have six beers ready and on tap for the grand opening and anticipates eight varieties flowing through the tap lines in the near future. The North Star Golden Ale pays homage to the North Star train line that chugs along about 50 yards east of the taproom each day. The Big Stick IPA is brewed in celebration of a gun known as ‘The Big Stick’ that was manufactured at the facility during WWII. The Boiler Room Porter and River Road Red Ale round out Forgotten Star’s core four. There will also soon be a Belgian Blonde Ale called Liquid Sunshine, a rotating kettle sour, and a Hazy IPA in concert with the Ales for ALS program.
Brewer: Matt Asay
Beers: Big Stick IPA, Boiler Room Porter, Liquid Sunshine Belgian Blonde, Northstar Golden Ale, River Road Red
Address: 38 Northern Stacks Dr, Fridley, MN 55421
Hours: Wed–Thu: 3pm–10pm; Fri–Sat: 12pm-12am; Sun: 11am–10pm
Opening: November 16, 2019