Some breweries open with a bang, others quietly. Omni Brewing Co. falls more on the softer side of things. The Maple Grove brewery opened this past fall and has been serving the local market since, making their beer in-house and for a select few hyperlocal establishments in their surrounding western suburb.
The building itself is nondescript in an industrial lane just off County Road 81. It’s tucked off the main drag, but still easy to find thanks to some large signage draped near the driveway. In the back of the parking lot, there are clues — such as the solar garden — that this brewery bucks the neighborhood norm. The interior is a transformation.
The building may have once been a Schwan’s distribution center, but now it’s a familiar taproom blend of industry and nightlife. It embraces the brewhouse, with a clear and open view into how the beer is made and fermenting tanks that purposely face the customers.
A place to play board games while you imbibe is tucked away behind the shuffleboard table. A corny fireplace mural on the other wall embraces the building’s limitations while giving a winking coziness. NCAA basketball was on the lone TV, placed above the “mantle” and classic rock like the Beatles and Tom Petty ruled the airwaves.
Oh, and there's beer: five on tap right now, available in flights, pints, and growlers.
The beer lines up like the color spectrum, from a light cream ale to a dark stout. For now, they're leaning toward more traditional styles and flavors but hint that the field will broaden. Impressions were mixed on the total lineup. There are winners to be found as well as a couple of flight samples that likely won’t be ordered in pint form.
Lake Day cream ale is fizzy with an almost herbal finish. That herbal aspect quickly fades and the creaminess takes hold. It’s a fair representation of style and would be a solid boat beer for easy drinking refreshment, but on an overcast winter evening it didn’t hit the spot.
There are two IPAs, a session and regular. Session IPA, A Little Hoppy, is exactly as indicated. It’s mild as sessions tend to be with a citrus finish. It’s a clean, middle-of-the-road beer. The regular IPA, Hopfull, is focused on refreshment. It’s balanced between bitterness and soft malt mouthfeel while somehow still registering 80 IBU on the bitterness scale. This is a surprising IBU given that it’s more citrus than lingering piney bitterness. Where many recent additions to the Minnesota IPA scene have leaned toward juicy citrus, Hopfull is more middle ground, with a bready malt base. This beer is refreshing and goes down easy.
The darker beers were less traditional. Sweetness, their stout, comes across somewhere between a brown ale and a porter with a sweet chocolate aroma and a semi-sweet finish like a light milk stout. It’s mid-bodied and feels light overall, even on nitro, and really didn’t stand out.
The big beer of the night, in popularity and alcohol content, is the eponymous Omnipotent scotch ale. At eight percent ABV, it's rich and heavy but isn’t sweet. Instead it uses the heavy roast and a combination of nine malts to give a hearty taste that mixes caramel, smoke, and delicate dark fruits in a big beer that’s not heavy on the tongue. With the big alcohol level, it’s a dangerous one, as you'll quickly find yourself wanting two or three.
As a whole, Omni shows promise. The familiar style beers like the IPA and cream ale are unique, though the stout failed to impress. Most curious is Omnipotent, which hints that Omni just may make their mark in one-offs and seasonals — a key part of the current beer scene, and especially in a state so influenced by weather.
The taproom is comfortable, warm, and inviting. The addition of food trucks would be a nice plus, but at least three pizzas were delivered in our visit. A Hopfull and slice of pepperoni sounds very nice indeed.
9462 Deerwood Ln. N., Maple Grove
Wednesday through Thursday, 3-10 p.m.
Friday 3-11 p.m.
Saturday, noon to 11 p.m.
Sunday, noon to 10 p.m.