When the owners of the newly opened Oldenburg Brewing Company calls it a family-oriented brewpub, they don’t just mean that kids are allowed in the taproom. Don and Colt Oldenburg aren’t just co-owners and co-brewers—they are also father and son.
Two generations of Oldenburgs have called Belle Plaine home and, during that time, owned many businesses in town. Reflecting back over the years, Colt observes, “The entrepreneurial spirit has been part of our family for a long time.” Don grew up watching his parents run Red Barn Antiques and Oldenburg’s Upholstery. When Colt was 9, Don purchased a local pizza shop. Colt remembers spending hours there while his dad did the initial renovation. That experience is one that Colt’s son Austin, 9, now shares. He and his sisters Chloe, 7, and Ellie, 4, have spent countless hours observing their dad and grandfather work to build out their brewpub.
For 40 years, Don has worked as a cryogenic manufacturer, even during the years he ran the pizza shop. Despite selling the business several years ago, the itch to be in the service industry never left him. At various times, he’s pursued different opportunities to dive back in, but for a variety of reasons things never came to fruition. As he approached retirement, the desire continued to grow.
Meanwhile, Colt worked for Minnetonka Brewing and Equipment Company for the past four-and-a-half years, providing him with ample first-hand experience setting up breweries. He got the idea to open a brewpub while talking with a friend and quickly convinced his dad to join him in the endeavor.
True to the Oldenburg entrepreneurial spirit, Colt explains, “I’ve had a lot of different ideas for businesses over the years and then you start thinking ‘no, that won’t work, and no, that won’t work.’ Then we made the decision to do the brewery and everything just worked.” Don adds: “You can have these dreams and look at them and say, ‘yeah, that’s just a dream and will never fly,’ but this one can be a reality, too. I can see this will fly.”
One of the first steps was coming up with a name for their new venture. They wanted something that honored their German heritage and Belle Plaine’s history, and that captured the essence of the vibe for the venue they hoped to create. After tossing around several ideas, the simplest and, perhaps most obvious, choice was to use their family name—hence, Oldenburg Brewing Company was born.
Just like with their business name, the Oldenburgs are striving to create a physical space that pays homage to their connection with the city and their rural roots while at the same time being a place that’s fun, comfortable, and family-friendly. The brewpub marries historic and modern aesthetics with 100-year-old barn wood and tin lining the walls, a modern glass garage door opening to the outside, and eye-catching tile work.
In addition to small-batch craft beer with names that throwback to Belle Plaine’s history, the brewpub will also serve kombucha, craft soda, and spirits. Working in collaboration with Minnetonka-based Dashfire Bitters to craft a line of craft “cocktails in a bottle,” under the label Chatfield Fine Spirits, guests will be able to order premixed drinks at the bar, such as Manhattans, Old Fashioneds, White Russians, and Martinis.
The Oldenburg’s background in pizza is on display with a menu that includes flatbread pizzas, in addition to street tacos and Bavarian pretzels. Items will be refreshed and rotated on a regular basis in response to what they’re excited about making as well as customers’ reactions to menu items.
Maintaining a strong connection and supporting the local community will be a priority of the brewpub. “We really want to be able to add back to the community,” explains Don, sharing about their use of honey from down the road in their Irish Red Ale. Another priority for them is appealing to customers who might typically avoid a brewery because of the limited beverage options. “We want to be more of a destination because it’s kind of different and cool here, whether or not they even drink the beer,” Don adds.
Furthering emphasizing the Oldenburgs’ connection with Belle Plaine are the family antiques that double as brewpub decor, including the bell from outside the upholstery shop that once served as the family dinner bell and a cowboy hat that belonged to Don’s father, Wesley. A floor-to-ceiling mural by local artist Lana Beck depicts the former family farm and several important aspects of the family history. Look closely and you’ll find references to the antique shop, the upholstery shop, and even an image of Wesley himself, looking down from the clouds on his descendants and all those that come to experience the Oldenburg hospitality.
Brewers: Colt Oldenburg, Don Oldenburg
Beers: Blonde ale, coffee cream ale, pale ale, oatmeal stout, Irish red
Hours: Wed–Thu: 2–10pm; Fri: 2–11pm; Sat: 11am–11pm; Sun: 11am–8pm
Address: 116 Main St. W., Belle Plaine, MN 56011