Town Hall Brewery is here today because two childhood friends wanted to share the sense of community that they associated with the local town hall. It’s a gathering place, a space where you can spend time with friends both old and new.
Our brewery has changed a bit over the years, but the fundamental idea remains the same; to carve out a small place in a big city where people can come together and enjoy themselves. And to brew some of the best beer in the country, right behind the glass in the other room.
A.M. Bagger obtained a license to serve alcohol at this location from the City of Minneapolis in the same year the building was built. Seven Corners at the turn of the last century was a poor working-class neighborhood mostly made up of Swedish immigrants. Mr. Bagger held that liquor license until he was forced to give it up in 1919 by the onset of Prohibition.
Comedy icon Dudley Riggs opened his Experimental Theater Company (an outgrowth of his Brave New Workshop) here in 1971. Performances continued in this building until 1991.
Pete Rifakes founded the Minneapolis Town Hall Brewery with his friend Scot McClure in 1997. The beer scene in Minnesota – in the United States, in fact – was quite different back then. Fewer than twenty breweries of any kind existed in the state, and the culture of craft beer appreciation that fuels our industry was a mere shade of what it is today. But through the support of a devoted crew of craft beer lovers, we weathered the early bumps and bruises, and won our first medal at the Great American Beer Festival in 2000.
By the early 2000s, the demand for Minnesota craft beer had increased, and our brewery needed an increase in capacity. In 2007, we expanded the brewery into an old boiler room in our century-old basement, adding fermentation and conditioning capacity, along with space for our barrel-aging program. In 2010, we added even more tanks in the basement, further increasing capacity.
As a Brewpub, Minnesota state law prohibits us from bottling our beer, or selling it to other restaurants, bars, or liquor stores. So when we decided it was time to take our beer to the South Side of Minneapolis, we had to open a place of our own. The Town Hall Tap is a cozy neighborhood gathering place on 48th & Chicago where South Siders can enjoy Town Hall Brewery beer without venturing far from home.
Certain activities just pair well with great beer; and in our opinion, bowling is one of the best. In 2013, we got the opportunity to resurrect a beloved-but-neglected Nokomis haunt: the old Skylane bowling alley. With brand-new bowling lanes alongside a beautiful antique bar serving Town Hall Brewery beer, the Town Hall Lanes is a match made in heaven.
With three restaurants to supply, our brewery needed to expand once again. And after 16 years of wear and tear, the restaurant needed some attention, as well. We closed for more than three months at the beginning of 2014 for a full renovation and brewery expansion, adding four more tanks and additional cellar space. While this expansion does increase our overall capacity, it also gives us the flexibility we need to produce an incredible variety of beer. Each year, we release fifty or so different beers, including time-intensive labors of love like lagers, infusions, and barrel-aged beers.