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Brothers Brett (left) and Warren Thunstrom opened up Thunder Brothers Brewery on Jan. 16 in Isanti, after conducting years of beer research, taking a class and testing out their talents at home. Photo by Tiffany Kafer

Local brothers open brewery in Isanti

For the Thunstrom brothers, Brett and Warren, beer has been a passion for quite some time. Now it’s a passion they’re excited to share with their community through their new business venture, Thunder Brothers Brewery, located in Isanti.

When asked why open a brewery in Isanti, the brother’s response, “We like beer.” As simple as that, the Thunstrom brothers want to share their passion for beer with others, and what better reason is there to open a business?

“We started out by going to a lot of micro-breweries, and we thought they were a lot of fun,” Brett said.

To venture to those breweries, the brothers put safety at the forefront and would bike to and from each location, as they enjoyed a cold brew.

“We like beer, and we like to ride bicycle, so we picked a few breweries in a loop and rode our bikes to them, so we got to get exercise and drink beer at the same time,” Warren said. “Before we went out we had read articles about breweries and then one day we thought we should go see what it’s all about.”

Beginning with their first brewery experience at Harriet Brewing, formerly in Harriet Island, the brothers were able to learn a lot more about beer, and what they liked, didn’t like, or what they could improve on from their experience.

“It all looked a little overwhelming at first, with the tanks and stuff. It’s kind of daunting when you see all these pipes and valves,” Warren said. “Now that we know what they all do, it’s not too bad.”

Prior to creating their first brew, the brothers also took a class on how to successfully brew at home.

“We also took a class on home brewing at one of the local brewery hardware suppliers and we thought, ‘let’s try it, this looks like fun,’” Warren added.

What began as an adventure in their lake cabin, the business transformed into a home brewery for the brothers soon after, before they expanded into their storefront building on Jan. 16.

“We started with IPAs, we had good results right away, everyone liked our beer,” Brett said. “Once we had beer, friends would come over.”

“It was kind of like the ‘Little Red Hen’ story — ‘Not I,’ said the little red hen — but then when the beer was there, so was everyone else,” Warren added.

Once they realized the popularity of their brew, the brothers began to search for a location out in the community, where they could reach out to not only their friends, but the others in the community who shared their love of beer.

“We’d heard about plans of three other groups who were trying to get breweries in the community, and we thought that would be great, but then they didn’t come,” Warren said. “We didn’t think brewing was all that complicated, so we thought we’d kind of dabble in it and see if it’s doable.”

Searching for a place to buy or lease and coming up with a plan took longer than expected — two years actually.

“We’ve been working on the brewery for two years,” Brett said. “We were finally able to find this location, which is industrial, so we don’t have to worry about neighbors or too many kids running around the area, and late nights isn’t hard when you’re in an industrial area.”

“We also don’t have to worry about the sounds or the smells,” Warren added.

The 1,940-square-foot building was perfect for the brothers and what they were looking for, “a place to have fun and to have good beer,” according to Brett.

When looking at the type of atmosphere they hoped to achieve, they had a few particulars in mind.

“If you look at a bar and you look at a brewery, they’re two different animals,” Warren said. “Most bars are dark; they may be child tolerant, but they’re not child friendly, and they stay open until the wee hours of the night. We want a lot of light, we encourage kids to come, we close at a decent hour and it’s more of an English pub social gathering place than a place to go and consume alcohol.”

While the brothers are currently in discussion with a knitting club to host organized meetings at the brewery, the brothers encourage the community to inquire about hosting events on site.

“We encourage all kinds of groups and people to come out and give us a try,” Brett said. “We also just signed up an art class here. We are collaborating with the art person to host their class here.”

On tap

“We are both IPA guys, that’s our go-to beer, but we like to dabble in all kinds of flavors,” Brett said.

With five flavors on tap and the capacity to go up to nine, the wait is simply on making more beer.

“We made just a certain amount of beer. We thought, well, we don’t know how busy we’re going to be, so we don’t want to make more beer until we see how fast we start consuming it,” Warren said.

“We’re making more beer tomorrow,” Brett added with a laugh.

From start to finish, the process takes about 10 days, according to the brothers.

“So far we have an IPA, stout, lager, blood orange pale ale, and a cream ale,” Brett said.

In addition to the beer on tap, the brewery also has snacks available and encourages guests to bring in their own food.

“People can bring in a cooler and a picnic basket if they want, they can order pizza and have it delivered,” Warren said. “We just don’t want to cook, so we encourage people to bring in their own food and enjoy our beer.”

To encourage community, the brothers have also implemented a “Pay It Forward” board, which allows patrons to prepurchase drinks for friends or community members of their choosing.

“We were on a bike ride across Wisconsin and we stopped at a micro-brewery and they had a ‘Pay It Forward’ board, and we thought that’s such a great idea to involve the community,” Brett said.

Future aspirations

With the success of the business, and visions for the future, the brothers are excited for the experience, the popularity of their business so far, and their goals going forward.

“We’re trying to get a ski-ball game in, and in the summer we will have a corn-hole game, and we’d really like to set up a patio area outside,” Brett said.

“This was needed in Isanti, we needed more nightlife attractions, and we really think this is a great addition to Isanti,” Brett added.

For more information on Thunder Brothers Brewery, to keep updated with the flavors or future progress, follow Thunder Brothers Brewery on Facebook, visit www.thunderbrothersbrewery.com, or come in during business hours. Thunder Brothers Brewery is located at 2 Enterprise Ave., Suite A3, in Isanti. The business is located on the backside of the building; during business hours a lighted sign is on display providing direction to the back parking lot.

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