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Minn. Shutdown Impacts Local Brewer

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(credit: CBS) Edgar Linares
Edgar Linares moved to the Twin Cities 24 hours before the largest...
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ST. LOUIS PARK (WCCO) — A brewer in St. Louis Park says the government shutdown is drowning his business before he’s even brewed a batch of beer.

Jason Schoneman is owner of Steel Toe Brewing in St. Louis Park. He says it’s taken him a decade to get where he is with his dream of opening up a brewery.

“I started thinking of the idea of brewing in the Twin Cities in 2001,” said Schoneman.

NewsRadio 830 WCCO’s Edgar Linares Reports

He’s been brewing his own beer since 1997. Now he’s purchased a building in St. Louis Park, spent hundreds-of-thousands of dollars on brewing equipment, but he can’t fire things up until a state official gives him the OK.

The machine that’s holding him back is a low pressure steam boiler. It provides heat into the kettle to begin the process of brewing.

“We need a certificate of inspection from the Department of Labor and Industry,” said Schoneman. “They need to come out and inspect the boiler and sign off on it.”

However, the shutdown has left the Department of Labor and Industry shorthanded. Right now, their website says only “Critical services offered during the shutdown.”

“The only reason they would come out is if there was an emergency or eminent danger,” said Schoneman.

That means inspecting his machine to get things started is not a priority.

Schoneman says the longer the shutdown goes, the more endanger he is of losing his business before he’s even begun brewing.

“There’s a lot riding on this that’s for sure,” said Schoneman. “The construction took a few months longer than it should have, now this.”

Schoneman said once he’s up and running he can begin making up to 800 barrels a year. He also has room for additional tanks and anticipates he could make 3,000 to 4,000 barrels if needed.

In the meantime, he’s been keeping himself busy by designing his labels, finishing his tasting room and working on merchandise.

On Monday, he’s scheduled to meet with the St. Louis Park City Council to get his license to sell beer in growlers. He already has his state license to manufacture and wholesale.

“If this shutdown goes until January, we’ll be in real hot water,” said Schoneman.

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