A big, shiny new brewery has joined Minnesota's craft beer scene.
And by big, we mean literally big. Utepils Brewing (you pronounce it "OOH-ta-pilz") is one of the largest breweries to ever open in Minnesota – its 50-barrel brewhouse is the sixth largest in the state.
Even though Utepils is a startup, founder Dan Justesen (who's been planning for this brewery since at least 2014) wanted to make sure he had enough space for his Minneapolis-based brewery to grow, telling GoMN: "We built our capacity expansions right into the beginning because I never want to have to redo this again."
The European-style taproom started pouring pints earlier this month, and will celebrate its grand opening on Feb. 18 with a food truck and live music starting at noon.
Here's the rundown, from the beer to the fancy tech behind it.
Using water from the nearby Glenwood Springs, head brewer Eric Harper (formerly of Summit Brewing) will focus on traditional European styles and session beers, with an IPA thrown in there for the hop heads.
To start, there will be five beers on tap:
- Pils, a Czech-style pilsner that's brewed with Czech-grown barley and hops, and fermented with a Czech lager yeast.
- Alt 1848, a Dusseldorf-style altbier, which is a copper-hued ale that's brewed in the tradition of Dusseldorf Brewery, founded in 1848.
- Glocal IPA, an IPA that blends Belgian yeast with hops sourced from Europe and the American West Coast.
- Ewald the Golden, a Bavarian-style hefeweizen that pairs golden wheat with amber barley.
- Copacetic, a light blond Kolsch-style brew that's made with barley from near Cologne, Germany.
In the taproom, people will also be able to buy non-alcoholic beverages including root beer, kombucha and cold press coffee, all on tap. There's also an antique lauter grant, where people can fill up a glass of spring water.
You'll be able to buy Utepils beer in pints and growlers in the taproom, as well as at local bars and restaurants and in liquor stores.
Utepils is a Norwegian word that means something like, "the first beer enjoyed outdoors in the sunshine after a long, cold winter." And the 18,000-square-foot taproom and brewhouse aims to weave that experience through everything in the space (including a yet-to-be-completed, 11,000-square-foot beer garden that'll be out back by Bassett's Creek).
"I don't sell beer, I sell beer experiences. Beer is all gone in a couple hours, but those memories of the experience is what makes you want to do it over again. No matter what we do, we are creating a beer experience, not beer," Justesen says.
Every little detail is designed to look like you're in a European city square, from the copper kettles and lauter grant to the Bavarian tile on the brewhouse floor and the donated skis used for beer flights. Here's a video tour:
From the old European-style taproom you can see the entire brewhouse – which is anything but old school.
The brewing equipment – which includes six, two-story fermenting tanks – was custom-designed and imported from Bavaria. And the entire system is fully automated, so it can be controlled by a computer, Justesen says.
And it's really energy efficient thanks to its Vario Boil system – the only one in North America – that will allow Utepils to turn off the heat, but continue boiling without using any more energy. This will help them cut their energy use by almost 75 percent.