Now Open or Damn Close profiles the first-ever brewery in Buffalo, Minnesota.
by Brian Kaufenberg
The Hayes Public House in Buffalo, Minnesota has been five years in the making. Originally conceived as an Irish Pub by owner and founder Pugs Hayes, who grew up in his grandmother Stella’s restaurant, it has evolved into a neighborhood brewery and taproom with an Irish public house character.
Hayes’ affinity for the Irish runs much deeper than a Guinness on St. Patrick’s Day—it’s rooted in his blood. A self-proclaimed “huge history buff,” Hayes traced his family genealogy to an early 1700s Scot and Irish settlement in the Shenandoah Valley where his family lived before heading west to resettle in Delano, Minnesota.
Pugs began plans for an Irish public house after graduating with a degree in business, and gained a mentor in the legendary Twin Cities Irish Pub proprietor Kieran Folliard. The plans began to shift when Hayes’ homebrewing hobby became a more serious endeavor.
A certified welder, Pugs built his own homebrew system, began honing recipes, and retooled his business plan into a three bbl brewhouse that will soon be pumping out British and Irish style ales including stout, English bitter, and a Wee Heavy for the winter, as well as seasonal brews like the Hillbilly Peach Picker fermented on fresh peach puree.
According to the Minnesota Historical Society, the Hayes Public House is the first ever brewery in the town of Buffalo, a title which has been as much of a challenge as it has been an honor. Among other things, the City of Buffalo needed convincing that off-premise growler sales weren’t going to negatively impact the sales of the municipally owned liquor store. When asked what the trickiest part of the process has been starting a brewery in a town that has never had one, Hayes responded, “Getting people to grasp the concept.”
With the legal pathway clear, Hayes is preparing for a soft opening in October and the grand opening soon after. And though Pugs is the sole owner of the brewery, he continually acknowledges all of the time and effort his friends, family—including his “super supportive” wife and dad Brian who built the bar—and business partner/brewery’s first employee Kevin Rogers have put in to make his dream a reality.
The Brewer: Pugs Hayes
The Beer: Sergeant Stella’s Pale Ale, Stout, English Bitter, Wee Heavy, Rotating Seasonals
Visit: 112 First St. S., Buffalo, MN 55313 – Taproom Hours: TBD