Wabasha Brewing may not have the hype of some recent start-up breweries. That's fitting, as St. Paul's West Side is quiet, historic, and working-class. But while the construction and licensing have taken longer than anticipated -- they once predicted a December opening -- the brewery opened yesterday to an anxious public.
Wabasha opened with a temporary taproom and just three beers on draft, but the brewery has bigger future plans, including moving the taproom to the building's lower level where it will increase from a capacity of 33 to 90. At present, they're just happy to be open after many delays in the process. The larger taproom space is expected in about six months.
Inside, the brewery is historic, diverse, and comfortable. The original brick walls add character and the brewhouse is tightly backed behind the small bar, just feet from the customers.
On the taproom side of the room there is a nook with a couch, vintage lamps, and board games, a more communal table in the center, and a back bar along the wall for standing and resting drinks. It's a small space and isn't suited to large gatherings, but it serves the primary function: getting Wabasha's beer out to the community.
Located just down Wabasha Avenue from the city's caves, the brewery is about a block from Boca Chica, and is likely to draw a blend of beer fans and neighborhood residents to enjoy a pint, reflected in the crowd on Day One.
The opening lineup includes Son of Eric Cream Ale, which is a creamy ale that would be an excellent summertime drink; Implosion IPA, a balanced IPA with English biscuity malts countered by a citrus finish; and Snowblower Porter, a winter-named beer that features heavily roasted malts, to the point of near smoky flavor, and a chocolate profile. All three beers are accessible and reflective of style without pushing boundaries. Three more drafts will premiere next week.
The brewery is a little hard to find, as there is no official storefront signage and, once at the address, homemade arrows point to the back entrance for the temporary taproom. Still, it's a cozy setting for a beer and the interior is inviting. The bar and space to order a drink may be cramped, but that increases the intimacy, and it would be a great place to spend a subzero afternoon.
Wabasha Brewing 429 Wabasha St. S., St. Paul 651-224-2102
Taproom Hours Thursday: 2 p.m. - 9 p.m. Friday: Noon - 9 p.m. Saturday: Noon - 9 p.m.
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