When Minnetonka's Lucid Brewing announced plans to rebrand and move into the North Loop, there was an ironic lack of lucidity.
The brewery recently bought Wisconsin's American Sky Brewing, adopted the moniker of North Loop Brewco, and announced plans for a new taproom named Inbound Brewco in the shadow of Target Field. It was a lot to take in at once, but as Inbound prepares to open its doors permanently Friday, the clarity and purpose of Lucid's original plan is finally in full view.
Since North Loop Brewco's Minnetonka facility closed on April 12, Inbound has been having a soft opening at its converted waste transfer station in the eponymous warehouse district.
Painted a US Bank Stadium black and adorned with chain link and painted plywood, the space feels a little bit unfinished — they're still installing bright tanks, fermenters, and the stereo system — but that's all part of the charm. When Lucid ripped their business down to the studs and started their remodel, they didn't want to plaster all the way up. Their mission is to showcase works in progress.
Of course, the construction site aesthetics of Inbound Brewco pay homage to the factorial confines of their Minnetonka home, but it's also a nod to the developing Brewers Row in their new neighborhood. Inbound is blocks from Fulton, Freehouse, and Modist Brewing, making the North Loop a booming beerhound destination. The construction-heavy locale is developing all around Inbound. With WeatherTech soon to vacate their plant across the street, more and more yuppie condos means more and more thirsty mouths to try beers from all four brewhouses.
In Minnetonka, Lucid had plenty of room, but their uber-industrial warehouse wasn't plumbed for a taproom, and pouring taps in a brewery was illegal when they first broke ground in 2011, so their space was mainly for production, bottling, and distribution. Now, with Inbound, North Loop Brewco can finally serve small-batch one-offs to their customers, and their brewers can experiment freely.
According to North Loop Brewco salesman Dan Murphy, Inbound's lofty warehouse space is a "low cost, low risk" lab in which the brewers can experiment with new, intriguing styles of beer to separate themselves from the growing field.
So far, their beer selection is far wilder than Lucid's commercial offerings. Led by a rich and roasty Wild Rice Baltic Porter, a refreshingly smoky Smoked Wheat, and a chewy sweet Apricot Ale, Inbound's tap selection tried new territory with adventurousness and aplomb. Inbound will also tap American Sky and North Loop Brewco classics, and popular experimental brews could be graduated into North Loop six-packs if the reaction is strong enough.
The space itself seats 185, with Bavarian-style picnic tables and a mezzanine that overlooks the brew floor. There's also a music stage built atop a pallet of kegs and a raw lumber retail shop. It's a little spare, but things are still developing at Inbound. In fact, things probably won't ever stop developing, which is why they didn't bother with the sheet rock.
Putting up walls is antithetical to Inbound's new location.
701 N. Fifth St., Minneapolis