When Urban Growler went public with plans to open a new brewery in St. Paul, owner Jill Pavlak and head brewer Deb Loch predicted they'd open up shop around the time of the Green Line opening. They weren't too off in their predictions: The 10bbl brewery recently secured its final licenses and started brewing and fermenting earlier this month in preparation for opening to the public.
Patrons can start with a taste at the taproom, as Urban Growler is starting small, only selling the flagships onsite and in take-home growlers. They plan to expand into bars and restaurants in the fall and have a list of clients already in the works, but for now, this will be a community-focused brewery, serving a variety of beer styles to the residents of St. Anthony Park. With Loch's experience (she's worked at Minocqua Brewing Company, Summit, and Northern Brewer) Urban Growler will hit the ground running with at least two beers ready at launch: Cowbell Cream Ale and Graffiti IPA. The brewery is five blocks from the train and next door to Bang Brewing.
Hot Dish: You're opening with two flagships and room for six to eight taps total? When do you expect to fill in your remaining tap lines?
Urban Growler owner, Jill Pavlak: As soon as possible! Deb will be living in the brewhouse until the tanks are full. I will keep her fed so [there is] no reason to stop brewing. We should have all six taps going by August and hopefully a couple specialty beers as well. I think you are supposed to under-promise and over-deliver -- I might have just over-promised. Oops!
How do you describe Urban Growler's brewing style?
Deb will brew all types of beer and use everything but the kitchen sink. She knows no limits. We will be walking through the farmers market and she will disappear for a while and come back with a lemon grass plant and look giddy happy and say, "I want to work on a lemon grass beer recipe." She's a good cook at home in our kitchen and an outstanding brewer. She makes tasty, well balanced beer.
You're also serving food? How big is the menu?
Our up-and-coming young chef, Paul Suhreptz, has been working with us on the menu. We will open with panini sandwiches and salads. We hope after our Kickstarter campaign this summer that we raise enough money to install a hood. We want to serve burgers and host good, old-fashioned Friday-night fish fries.
You're Minnesota's first women-owned brewery, and you're making a point to appeal to both men and women in the taproom as far as aesthetics. Are you also appealing to different palates? If you ask 100 different women what their favorite beer is, you will get 100 different answers. Women and men like beer with flavor. Our goal is to brew very tasty, drinkable beer in a moderate alcohol range. According to a bunch of research, women have been known to have more sensitive palates that can detect subtle flavors better than men can. Women have more taste buds than men, which gives them greater sensitivity to sweet, sour, salty, and bitter flavors.
Tell us about the beer garden outside.
We have been approved to have an 82-seat beer garden. We consulted with landscape architect Annette Walby and will implement her design over three years. It will be a lovely place to visit with friends and meet new friends.
You're close to other breweries and, eventually, the new Surly. What kind of community do you expect to spring up around this cluster?
We are the new Northeast. We have artist lofts, high-density housing, light rail blocks away, cool vintage shops on Raymond. This is a destination that will continue to attract other cool, creative types. We found the perfect community for Urban Growler.
You first developed the concept of Urban Growler in 2008. How different is the brewery today from your original vision?
Pretty much dead on. We vacillated a bit about the kitchen, but when I kept sending Deb out to the food trucks in the dead of winter when we were at some of the great taprooms around town because I refused to get cold, she decided, "We need a kitchen."
Urban Growler Brewing Company 2325 Endicott St., St. Paul
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