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Monday, July 15, 2013

"B" is for "Brewery"

Submitted by Councilmember Russ Stark

Bang Brewery
The smell of hops and the letter "B" must be in the air as Bang Brewery and Burning Brothers Brewery are both in the process of finishing their new spaces in Ward 4. Bang owners Sandy and Jay Boss-Febbo have built a unique new brewery building on the corner of Hersey and Capp Road in the heart of the Midway near the old Minnesota Transfer rail yards. Bang will have a small taproom in addition to supplying some local bar/restaurants. The Boss-Febbos are focused on local sourcing and supplying local businesses with a high quality product.

Burning Brothers, which will be the only exclusively gluten-free brewery in the Midwest, is building out their new space in a warehouse on Thomas Avenue near Fairview. The Burning Brothers duo of Thom Foss and Dane Breimhorst got their name from one of their former professions, flame-throwing and fire-eating at the Renaissance Festival. They hope to fill a growing local and regional market niche, and to eventually have a taproom.  

Additionally, Jill Pavlak and Deb Loch of Urban Growler Brewing Company recently signed a lease on Endicott Street to open yet another craft brewery and taproom combo Ward 4. They plan to have a limited menu of food in the taproom as well, and with their location right near Bang, Urban Growler will help create a little brewery and taproom “zone” in the West Midway.

To the west of us, Surly, the established, popular Brooklyn Park-based brewery, is moving ahead with plans to relocate and expand at a site on Southeast 5th Street in Minneapolis right on the Saint Paul border.

Until recently, our zoning regulations wouldn't have allowed taprooms in most areas. The Saint Paul City Council recently made changes to our zoning code to allow the sale of beer at breweries in most commercial and mixed-used districts.  The Council also eliminated the 300-foot distance requirement between a taproom and a school or church.  This old requirement in zoning had become a hindrance to the development of new taprooms because of the proliferation of churches and charter schools in many of Saint Paul’s commercial and industrial areas. 

Historically, when breweries were typically massive operations, city zoning was set up to separate beer production, distribution, and retail sales into different locations and zoning districts.  The new trends of craft and microbrews (with about one new brewery opening each day in the U.S. right now), are forcing cities across the country to rethink these kinds of zoning restrictions, and I hope to keep Saint Paul on the cutting edge of these burgeoning trends.

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