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Rendezvous Brewery just opened in what can only be described as a quintessential lake town.
The town of Hackensack has about 300 people but is surrounded by roughly 127 lakes within a 10-mile radius. Most visitors to the town from the Twin Cities are eager to get their boat on the water. But while there are plenty of lakes to enjoy, there aren’t a whole lot of gathering places.
For Sue and Doug Toth, Rendezvous Brewery would be the place for people to, well, rendezvous.
The brewery opened on June 27 to growler sales only.
“That first day was the best day ever,” Sue says, with nearly 100 growlers of beer sold. “Everybody came in; it was a great way to start. We weren’t sure exactly if we’d be able to open the doors because of all the regulations [related to COVID].”
The following week taps were installed and the taproom was opened to COVID guidelines. The response from the community—people are coming in to grab beer and sharing photos of their growlers at home or on a lake—is extra special for Sue.
She grew up in Hackensack just five blocks from where the brewery stands before moving to the Twin Cities for college and staying there. Weekends were filled with visiting her hometown with her husband and kids. And now that they’re back home, they wanted to give back to a community they’ve been a part of for many years.
And frankly, Sue thought the town could use a brewery to congregate and share a couple of pints.
“For people who want to go out and socialize and have a beer, there isn’t too much to do. So, Rendezvous wanted to provide that,” she says. “We were always looking for something to do when visiting. We’d stop at Portage [Brewing in Walker] and other breweries on our way back.”
And though Hackensack is a small town, it has plenty going on. Of course, there are the lakes—some people even dock nearby at a boat landing to come to the brewery for a growler fill and head back on the lake—the Paul Bunyan State Trail is across the street from the brewery, there is an international chainsaw carving contest every September, music festival Moondance Jam every July, and winter brings full snowmobile trails.
As for the beer, the Toths are keeping it simple. Their first beer is called Chapter One and will remain a staple—it’s a pale ale that isn’t bombastic, but approachable. They call it an HPA, or Hackensack Pale Ale. The other two beers on tap include a Dry Irish Stout and a double dry-hopped IPA with Australian hops. Next up is a cream ale.
Head brewer Doug won’t be brewing things like pastry sours or milkshake IPAs, but more approachable styles for locals and visitors to enjoy.
“So, don’t expect coconut,” Sue says. “We want to make beer that people are going to enjoy and to meet the tastes here in town.”
Doug was a homebrewer before opening Rendezvous. When retirement came up, the couple decided they couldn’t just sit around—they wanted to do something totally different.
They knew immediately that the 5,000-square-foot building would work as a brewery. Now, it houses a 5-barrel brewing system and four fermentors.
“It’s centrally located, huge, [and we] can do a lot of things in it,” Sue says. The taproom space is purposely small, but a nearly identical space they use for meetings and parties can be opened as part of the taproom. And should they need it, there is plenty of space for adding components to the brewing space.
The building was put up in 1907 to sell Ford Model T vehicles. A photo adorns a brewery wall depicting a horse carriage and Model T outside of the current building housing the brewery. After that, it became a bus garage, furniture store, clothing store, and a general store.
The name, like the building, is also rooted in the town’s history. The Rendezvous was a restaurant Sue’s grandparents managed in the 1950s. She can’t confirm it, but rumor has it they brewed their own beer on-site. A glass her grandparents used to own to measure hops will eventually be on display in the brewery, adding to the historical vibe of the taproom.
Both Sue and Doug are the owners of Rendezvous, which has kept them busy. They hope the brewery continues to be popular and a place people want to visit, play games in, and enjoy time with their families.
“This is where we want to be; this is where we want to retire,” Sue says.
Brewer: Doug Toth
Beer: Chapter One Pale Ale, Smilin’ Eyes Dry Irish Stout, Hopmazing double dry-hopped IPA, cream ale
Address: 112 S 1st Street, Hackensack, MN
Hours: TBD, Wednesday–Sunday
Maltwerks is a Midwest malt house focused on genuine relationships in offering quality, locally produced, traceable malt. Maltwerks maintains close relationships with local farmers so brewers know exactly what barley was used and the characteristics they can expect. Maltwerks is a partner in globally sourced commodities and carries a wide variety of spices and botanicals for diversity in craft brewing.