Situated in the Silver Bell office park directly across from the Twin Cities Premium Outlets, Bald Man Brewing is on an island.
The Eagan brewery is awash in a sea of character-less boutiques and abutting a Marvin Windows and Doors. It is one of only two production breweries in the south metro -- the other being Badger Hill, which is a 20-minute drive on a good day.
Eagan is a far cry from the post-industrial beer haven of northeast Minneapolis, but that neighborhood doesn’t need a drink like Eagan needs one.
From the outside, Bald Man doesn’t erupt into view. They’re barred by the office park owners from making any significant changes to their brewery’s face, so the banal tan facade isn’t as attractive as some of the standalone breweries in Minnesota.
But once you’re inside, the vibe utterly transforms.
Claustrophobic concrete and brick opens up into 11,357 square feet of open-floor magnanimity. Bold, quirky filigrees are painted on enormous walls. A stainless steel bar top gleams in the light spilling in through the glass garage doors to the loading dock. There are some high-end touches -- three 65” TVs perch around the bar, and there’s a VIP function room that companies can rent out -- but Bald Man definitely has a homier feel than other brewhouses of its ilk.
Eschewing the cold, trendy-to-death factory feel of many urban breweries, Bald Man stays true to its suburban environs with woodsy, rustic touches. Floating beams of reclaimed wood hang above the bar; 12-foot-tall barn doors stretch from floor to ceiling. President/co-founder Dan Jacobs has created a “northwoods chic” aesthetic he thinks will resonate with the locals.
“This area is thriving with all the new high-end retail and the Minnesota Vikings coming in, so we thought it was a cool, up-and-coming area,” he says. “[Eagan] never used to be cool. Now, it’s really growing.”
Jacobs, the CEO of VedaloHD Performance Eyewear, is a serial businessman. Bald Man is only one of eight ventures he’s embarked on.
This fact, along with the brewery’s $1.2 million startup fund, may have cynics dismissing Bald Man as another cash grab in already overly commercial Eagan. But brewing isn’t in Jacobs’ portfolio because it’s good business. It’s a family tradition that’s finally gone commercial.
“The industry is growing so fast, so a lot of people get into it for the money,” Jacobs says. “Well, I think that’s the wrong reason. I’m here for one reason. The Bald Man.”
Jacobs met co-founder/head brewer Tristan Kusnierek -- whom he lovingly refers to as the Bald Man -- a decade and a half ago when Kusnierek started a relationship with Jacobs’ second cousin. Now, the two are married, and Jacobs and the Bald Man are more than just kin. They’re partners in helping suburban Minnesotans elevate their palates.
“He’s been brewing since 1992,” Jacobs says of Kusnierek. “We’d always have our family gatherings, and he’d always bring beer. Back in a time when there was no good beer, he brought good beer. Now, there’s all this good beer out there finally, and he still brings the best beer.”
The family tradition has extended into the next generation, as Jacobs has hired his daughter Natalie -- a former employee of Urban Growler -- as his taproom manager. His other daughter Andrea designed their logo and bottle labels and hand-drew the massive murals in the brewery’s taproom and VIP room.
“We have three passions here,” Jacobs says. “Fresh beer, friends and family, and rock music.”
The third item on that list -- rock music -- has become the defining milieu of Bald Man Brewing. Beers like Tupelo Honey Brown Ale, Young American Pale Ale, Misty Mountain Hops IPA, and Heart of Glass Blond Ale carry on the theme.
Natalie Jacobs confirms that classic rock will be spun heavily on the brewery’s turntable. Rock bands will also perform on a rolling stage located by the brewery’s entrance, giving Bald Man a definitive dad-rock vibe that the younger Jacobs absolutely relishes.
“It’s not necessarily leaning into the dad vibe,” she says, “but you know, it’s just fun.”
For now, Bald Man will only sell beer on tap and in growlers, though there are plans to package 750 mL bottles for on-site purchasing and 22 oz bombers for liquor stores. Their 10 tap lines will support five flagships, three seasonals, and two nitro beers.
The business plan is solid, and there’s space for three more fermenters in their brewery should the expansion call for it. For now, they’re just focused on giving the people of Eagan an option for drinking local.
“We just wanna be a microbrewery with a 12-mile radius,” Jacobs says. “It feels like people south of the river are really gravitating towards neighborhood, community brewers. That’s what we are.”