Kevin Welch, Boom Island Brewing Company’s head brewer, has brought his brews out of the city and into the southwest suburbs, continuing a tradition that stemmed from his travels to Belgium while performing in an orchestra.
“Brass players tended to be beer drinkers,” the former French horn player said. “So, I went home and made my own.”
Soon, brewing became Welch’s passion and he found himself delivering kegs “in a tux and tails” as his brewing company grew.
First opening in 2011 in northeast Minneapolis, Boom Island quickly outgrew its first space, moving into a 3,000 square-foot location.
“And on day two, that was too small,” Welch said.
Now, the brewery is settled into the new 8,700 square-foot space in Minnetonka at 5959 Baker Road Suite 320. The new location opened in August, allowing the brewers to add 50% more capacity.
“I’d say things are off to a better start than we expected,” said Scott Becker, a business partner, who had been a longtime Boom Island customer.
“We didn’t want to compete with some of the other breweries because they are people we like, people we respect,” Becker said, referring to breweries such as Unmapped, which is located nearby in the Glen Lake area of Minnetonka.
Because Boom Island offers a different style of beer, they don’t think of it as competing with other breweries, rather expanding the market in the area, Becker said.
Having traveled to Belgium for business, Becker and fellow business partner Dan Syverson are big fans of the Belgian style beer.
“It’s by far the best beer in the world that I’ve experienced,” Becker said, describing it as a unique combination of German brewing and French wine and Champagne making, a unique brewing process providing added flavor and depth.
As part of the brewing process, most of the yeast Welch uses is acclimated to ambient temperature fermentation, providing the yeast an opportunity to create a variety of flavors, such as black pepper, coriander and star anise.
“But they can only get that when they’re fermenting in a very warm temperature,” Welch said, noting most brewers artificially force the yeast to cool down, preventing [the yeast] “from expressing themselves.”
There is a downside, however.
“Our favorite beers are higher in alcohol, so you can’t drink a lot of them,” said Becker, noting his favorite beer, The Brimstone Tripel, has an ABV (alcohol by volume) of 9.5%.
When it came to the taproom, the partners sought to create a comfortable space that had the character and charm found in European pubs.
Their challenge was finding an older building that already had that built-in character in the southwest metro area.
Finding space inside an already established business center, they worked with an architectural firm to bring their vision to life “without feeling like you’re in a warehouse,” Becker added.
They brought in old wooden beams and barn wood from southern Minnesota, as well as white pine from northern Minnesota for the tables.
When it comes to seating, “not everybody likes the same environment,” Becker said, which is why they created different spaces throughout, including larger community tables, and outdoor patio and a private room for special events.
It was also important to make the taproom friendly to families and dogs.
“It’s amazing it worked out. It’s kind of like ‘if you build, they will come,’” Becker said, giving credit to the many volunteers who helped along the way.
Boom Island is open 3- 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday, noon to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday and noon to 6 p.m. Sunday.
For more information, visit them online at boomislandbrewing.com.
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