Steel Toe Brewing in St. Louis Park was one signature away from opening its doors when the state government shut down. Unable to get their boiler inspected, the startup was left dangling for several weeks; money going out, but none coming in. They had a workaround. An insurance inspector could do the job. But by the time one finally arrived the Legislature was only two days away from a resolution.
The long delay behind them, Minnesota's newest brewery finally held its first growler sales on Friday, August 19. A throng of people showed up, and Steel Toe had just enough beer to go around. The last growler was being filled as the last person reached the front of the line.[jump]
The husband and wife team of Jason and Hannah Schoneman have been quietly building Steel Toe in a leased industrial space in St. Louis Park since February. They maintained a pretty low profile until nearly ready to launch. They intend to start small and keep things intimate and local. They anticipate limiting distribution to a tight circle around the Twin Cities metro. Jason believes their converted dairy tank brewery should allow them to produce around 3,000 barrels annually. They have plenty of space to add more fermenters as needed to keep up with demand.
Jason Schoneman is not just another homebrewer turned pro. He brings a wealth of professional experience with him. His career track began during time spent living the life of a ski-bum in Colorado, where he fell in love with the great beers available on the Front Range. His first professional job was at Lightning Boy Brewery in Bozeman, Montana, where he worked 15-hour days washing kegs. Within two weeks he was promoted to brewer.
After gaining experience at Lightning Boy, he completed the Diploma Course at the famed Siebel Institute brewing school in Chicago. His last professional job was as brewer and then head brewer at the Pelican Pub & Brewery, an award-winning brewery and brewpub in Pacific City, Oregon. The time at Pelican was formative. He learned what it takes to make a brewery go, gaining experience in all aspects of brewery operations; wholesale distribution, dealing with customers, tours, brewery logistics, and maintenance. "I had a great mentor there. He taught me how to stay really consistent every batch. That is so important. I don't want to experiment on people. When somebody has our product and likes it, I want to be able to give it to them again."
Steel Toe launched with an unfiltered golden ale called Provider. This hazy ale is what I would call a "poundable" beer. It goes down very easy, and its light body and low alcohol will allow you to knock back a few. It has a crisp, clean sweetness with subtle notes of toast in the malt. Hops give bright lemon-lime and melon highlights.
The next growler sales at the brewery will be Friday night, September 2, starting at 5:30 p.m. and going "until they run out of beer." They are also planning to sell growlers Saturday the 3rd starting around 10:00 a.m.. In addition to Provider, they will be pouring Size 7 IPA, Descent dark ale, and possibly their imperial red ale called Rainmaker. The brewery is in St. Louis Park at 4848 W 35th St., just off of Belt Line Rd.
Cheers, Michael Agnew Certified Cicerone A Perfect Pint