MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — It is always busy in the small, industrial suburban Minnesota office park that houses Steel Toe Brewing, with bombers to fill, kegs to prepare and cans to deliver.

“I’d been brewing beer since 2001, and I knew I wanted to open a brewery near Minneapolis,” said Jason Schoneman.

Schoneman and his wife, Hannah, moved to the Twin Cities, and opened Steel Toe in St. Louis Park in August 2011, with their 1 ½-year-old daughter Indigo.

Now, Indigo is 8 years old, they have a 5-year-old Aloria, and their beer is thought of as among the best in the state.

“Lots of new brewers in the Twin Cities, and yeah, they’re making me feel old,” he laughed.

Schoneman and his head brewer, Michael Wagner, say, they’re trying to push the quality of Steel Toe’s beer lineup even higher. They aren’t doing crazy infusions or adding things into their beers, instead they’re following detailed processes to make sure their flagship Size 7 IPA, and their refreshing summer ale Provider, taste the same every time.

“That simplicity, executed really well, is what makes it hard to make really good beer,” Wagner said.

In May 2018, Provider won the Silver Medal in the English Summer-Ale category at the World Beer Cup, considered the most prestigious beer competition in the world.

“This is 8,200 different beers from 60 different countries judged by a panel of 400-plus judges. It’s really an honor,” said Wagner.

The judging is blind, meaning the judges have no idea where the beer they’re tasting is from.

“This is the first beer we ever brewed: Day 1, it’s Provider. It’s my favorite beer,” said Schoneman.

Wagner commemorated the honor and the beer by literally making Provider a part of his body. He got the word “PROVIDER” tattooed on his right forearm.

“For providing for the brewery, for our livelihood, for our family and our job and obviously the beer. It was a good way to commemorate the win and that whole experience. No regrets, do it up,” he said.

Since the original brewery opened in a St. Louis Park industrial park, Steel Toe has expanded. They doubled square footage in order to create more seating for the very busy tap room.

But the amount of beer they’re producing hasn’t really exploded, and that’s by design.

“Early on my wife and I said, ‘when is enough, enough?’ For us, this is enough,” said Shoneman, whose brewery uses the tag line “big dreams of staying small.”

It’s an attitude that fits the work ethic here. Steel Toe isn’t designed to be just a name. It’s a tribute to Schoneman’s early job building Winnebago mobile homes, when he wore Steel Toe Boots every day.

It’s about hard work. Making enough money. And enjoying life.

“It just fits. It represents, hopefully, all this hard work and the rewards that go along with it,” said Schoneman.

Steel Toe Brewing
4848 W. 35th Street
St. Louis Park
Monday 3-8pm; Tues-Friday 3p-10pm; Saturday Noon-10pm; Sunday Noon-6pm

Jason DeRusha

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