“Omni” means “all” or “of all things.” Through both its beers and the atmosphere of its taproom, OMNI Brewing Company intends to live up to its name—to be a place where both craft beer connoisseurs and relative newbies can find beer they’ll enjoy while having a good time.
This desire to make approachable beers as well as those with a little more depth and complexity was on display on a recent Monday evening. Co-founders Justin Walsh, Zack Ward (who is also the head brewer), and Steve Hayes sat around a patio table behind their soon-to-open Maple Grove, Minnesota, brewery. After finishing pints of their flagship session ale—a cream ale dosed with significant hop flavor and aroma thanks to late additions of citra hops—Ward produced a small canning jar filled with a flat, dark brown beer from a small cooler.
“I’ll call this the Super Scotch Ale,” he said with a sly smile. “Justin and Steve haven’t even tried this yet.” The beer consists of a second running of the mash from Ward’s Scotch ale, which he boiled down, caramelized, and has kept aging since April. At around 12-percent ABV, it has notes of smoke and roasted malt on the nose and rich, sweet caramel on the finish. It’s also an example of the experimentation Ward hopes to bring to OMNI’s lineup.
“I mean, that’s at the heart of why I want to do this,” Ward said. “We’re definitely starting with some of the basics as far as beers go, but I’m hoping that we can pretty shortly start to do more wild concepts.”
Ward will soon be making the jump from the pilot system in his garage to OMNI’s 30-barrel brewing system. They’ll begin distributing to a few bars and restaurants in the area soon after opening; goals include growing distribution and moving into packaging for retail sale. In the future, OMNI hopes to make use of the brewery’s extra space to up annual production to around 4,000 barrels.
OMNI’s opening day lineup will consist of a pale ale and the aforementioned session ale. Soon thereafter, they’ll release a session IPA and ginger red ale, with more seasonals and one-offs to follow.
The building was originally built as a Schwann’s distribution center, so it came with amenities many breweries have to install themselves, such as floor drains and a large area for cold storage. The building even has a plot of solar panels out back that will help offset OMNI’s energy cost.
Walsh, Ward, and Hayes said they are excited about their location in Maple Grove, a corner of the Metro they feel is currently underserved by craft beer. A successful Kickstarter campaign confirmed their suspicion when they saw the number of backers with local addresses.
“You look at a Google map and the closest craft brewery is in Northeast Minneapolis, Excelsior, Buffalo, or Big Lake,” Hayes said. “There’s just a huge circle you can draw around this area where there’s no taproom.” If all goes as planned, that will no longer be the case come Labor Day when OMNI is hoping to have its doors open for the first time.
Brewer: Zack Ward
Beer: Pale ale, session ale, session IPA, ginger red ale
Visit: 9462 Deerwood Lane N, Maple Grove, MN
Hours: Wed–Thurs & Sun, 4–10; Fri–Sat, 3–11