Over the last five or so years, the craft brewery movement has grown exponentially in Minnesota. The Associated Press says licensing records show two-thirds of Minnesota breweries have opened just since 2010. So, we decided to help you – and your livers – keep up with the taproom trend by stopping by some of these Twin Cities brewhouses. This week, we’re featuring Bauhaus Brew Labs.

Things are never quite ordinary when it comes to breweries and their backgrounds.

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In fact, Bauhaus Brew Labs’ co-owner and head brewer Matt Schwandt initially strove to be a touring/studio guitarist — and then became an attorney. But life sometimes has different plans for us.

For a little background: Schwandt and his wife, Lydia Haines, met in Nashville, Tennessee, where they both dreamed of pursuing music professionally. Meanwhile, Schwandt worked at a brewpub, Boscos, where he was able to get a great education on craft beer. It was also where his love of craft beer began.

Even after moving back up to Minnesota in 2005, going to law school and becoming an attorney (for the state and privately), his passion for beer remained.

And he certainly wasn’t feeling too happy with his chosen job.

“I didn’t really enjoy what I was doing. The allure of the legal profession looks a lot better on TV (laughs) then it actually plays out in reality,” he said. “Everything I kept coming back to was beer.”

Around the same time he started law school, Schwandt had begun home brewing, mostly as a way to recreate the style of beers he loved in Tennessee, but couldn’t find in Minnesota. Later, Schwandt and his father-in-law, Howard Haines, began honing beer styles by brewing several hundred batches of beer.

Soon enough, Bauhaus Brew Labs was born in northeast Minneapolis. Its mission: brewing amazing lagers and delighting customers with surprisingly balanced beers.

(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

“[Our philosophy] is really pretty simple. It’s just balance. We mostly focus on lagers because that’s our choice to add something new to the market for a type of beer that’s underrepresented in craft circles, but also lager beers – the way we brew them – are so balanced,” Schwandt said.

Coincidentally, during the interview (which occurred outside of work hours!), I was drinking Bauhaus’ Stargrazer, which, if you judged a book by its cover, would appear to be an aggressively dark beer. Not so.

“We like to sort of surprise people with our beers. Take, for example, Star Grazer that you’re drinking right now. This is a jet black beer and it looks like it would be heavy, intimidating, and then you taste it and it’s so light and refreshing. It’s a session-able, easy-drinking, crowd-pleasing beer. And you’d never know if you’re the type of person who looks at a dark beer and says ‘it’s too dark for me,'” Schwandt said.

So, for more on the brewery, check out the interview with Matt Schwandt below!

(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

You’re known for being family-owned. What are the benefits of that? And are there any conflicts that happen?

The benefits … well, the reason we started this beyond the beer, is that I wanted to see my family more. We have two kids and wanted to, if we could, find a way to work and play together. This was such a natural opportunity to do that to happen.

My wife, Lydia, is our Vice President and Director of Operations, so she’s here full-time. The kids have been growing up in a brewery and that’s great. So, the benefits are that we get to see each other a lot more.

And, to an extent, you can be a little bit more honest with your family than a professional relationship. But it cuts the other way. There are things you can’t say that sometimes create an elephant in the room. Mostly, it’s good!

How did you come to choose this particular (massive) location?

Yeah, it was actually the last place we looked at. We were not looking at northeast at all. We were initially trying to find somewhere outside of northeast where there wasn’t a brewery so we would be first-movers in a part of town and maybe sprout a brewing culture. And it just didn’t happen. We couldn’t find a building with the ceiling height we needed. We need ceiling height. It’s a big, big priority for breweries of our size.

We brewed a little over 5,000 barrels in 2015 and we’re poised to do between 7 or 8,000 this year. We have the capacity to go up to about 10,000 but we’re not trying to produce more than we can sell.

(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

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What’s the relationship like between all the breweries here in northeast?

Most of the time, it’s really friendly. I’m always talking to Indeed and 612 and Fulton about maybe, ‘I forgot to order enough malt, can you spare some?’ And maybe they’ll run out of hops and we’ll lend them some.

Tell me more about lagers.

There are plenty of lager styles in German that just don’t really have an existence over here commercially. There are a lot of things to discover in other countries where brewing is a well-established tradition.

The way we brew them are so balanced.

It’s got all the types of flavors and colors that you’ll see in the ale category, but lagers aren’t as familiar to people. Some people don’t even know that there’s something other than the yellow, fizzy, light American lager. So that’s kind of fun.

It’s about balance between malt, hops and mouthfeel. And figuring out how to make beers flavorful without being extreme. And brewing them smarter so you end up with a pleasurable experience in the glass.

(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

What beers would you prefer not brewing?

I don’t think you’ll see us do something like bourbon barrel-aged stout. That beer is kind of like the white whale for certain beer drinkers. They’re fairly ubiquitous, but that’s kind of not what we’re about. I wouldn’t rule anything out, though.

You guys have a unique “look” – where does that come from?

Visually is where we make the most obvious distinction from other breweries. That’s completely deliberate. We hired an awesome branding firm in Austin, Texas called Helms Workshop to do all of our visuals. They really pulled out all of the strongest part of the brand conceptually and put a visual to it that was totally proprietary. The stacked lettering thing – that’s ours and if any else does that it’s going to be super obvious. The colors, they’re super primary, vibrant colors that you don’t sometimes see associated with craft beer. It’s all distinct, clean, modern lines.

12625713_10107157088883440_781298143_nBauhaus also has pretty interesting beer names, too…

All of our names sort of follow a similar convention. It’s where we take a word or an idiom and translate it into like German, and then translate it back into English – poorly. That’s the whole concept. Instead of a Star Gazer, it’s a Stargrazer. It’s a misstep in language, but it’s to humorous effect. Like ‘Oh, this beer is really wonderful, this is the Wonderstuff.” Things like that.

So … what are your favorite guilty-pleasure beers?

I guess Grain Belt, but I don’t think that’s a guilty pleasure … PBR from time-to-time…

How about your favorite local beer that isn’t Bauhaus?

I love a lot of Fair State beers … their Pilsner is awesome when it’s available. Some of their sours have been pretty impressive, too.

Lastly, what does the future have in store for the brewery?

We’re going to start bottling in 750ml bottles, which you can buy straight from the taproom. They’ll be at liquor stores, too.

We actually just hired a full-time sales rep to start developing outstate areas, like Mankato and St. Cloud… keep working Duluth and Rochester. Once those areas are established, we’ll think about going to smaller markets in Minnesota and possibly Wisconsin.

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[Also,] I can tell you that, starting (soon), Friday nights are going to be vinyl nights that will hosted by Andrea Swenson from The Current. That’ll be called The Spins at Bauhaus. So, yeah, there’ll be a vinyl night, then either Thursday or Saturday, we’ll have live music.