At 949 E. Hennepin Ave. in northeast Minneapolis, there hangs a spray-painted drop cloth advertising Minnesota-made beer, wine, and spirits.
No, it’s not an enterprising moonshiner’s take on the lemonade stand. The bootstrapped advertising belongs to Ombibulous, the Twin Cities’ first Minnesota-only liquor store.
You won’t find Coors or Absolut here. You won’t even find beers from popular, locally distributed midwesterners like Toppling Goliath or Ale Asylum. Ombibulous caters to those drinkers who walk in a liquor store and make a beeline for the “Minnesota Made” section of the cooler, selling only libations brewed in the North Star State.
The brainchild of Hoppy Trolley’s Michele and Kevin Ross, Ombibulous opened its doors to Minnesota loyalists on January 17, though they won’t hold their grand opening event until February 10. After three years of showing off Minnesota’s breweries -- particularly those in Northeast -- the pair began to see a market for a Minnesota-exclusive retailer.
“Originally, it came out of our background with breweries,” Michele Ross says. “There’s obviously some great liquor stores that carry a lot of great Minnesota beers, but usually it’s a couple of flagships and a couple of specialty beers every once in a while. We wanted to provide a bigger venue for just Minnesota beer, spirits, and wine.”
The shop styles itself as a “maker’s market” for “local craft libations,” and that much is evident from the current DIY aesthetic. But the true spirit of Ombibulous -- a neologism that means “one who enjoys beverages/alcoholic beverages of all sorts” -- is exploration.
The Rosses have already courted a hefty roster of hometown standouts. At present, Ombibulous carries product from 38 breweries, 10 wineries, 19 distilleries, and four cideries operating within Minnesota state lines. Many of their beers are sold in single cans to encourage cross-pollination. And while buyers can purchase goods from purveyors like Norseman, Dampfwerk, Lupulin, Steel Toe, Fair State, and Insight, Ombibulous doesn’t carry Surly, Grain Belt, Schell’s, or Summit flagships (though it does sell Summit’s Unchained series).
“We want to offer a destination where people can learn about these places and really branch out,” Ross says. “We like to think of it as a welcome center for Minnesota makers.”
Ombibulous is currently open Wednesday and Thursday from noon to 8 p.m., Friday and Saturday from noon to 10 p.m., and Sunday from noon to 6 p.m.
949 E. Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis; 612-607-3542