Atypical Brewery & Barrelworks restoring old building in Minot’s downtown
By ASHTON GERARD
A group of friends with a passion for brewing beer and good times found an opportunity they couldn’t pass up – taking something that was old and rundown and making it new.
Eric Johnson, Nick Holwegner, Brady Dixon and Dylan Davis are the men behind Atypical Brewery & Barrelworks. They have tackled the project of restoring what used to be the Westland Oil Filling Station that was originally built in 1929. The station was added to the National Register of Historical Places in 1989.
“Probably one of the biggest challenges is working with a building this old,” Johnson said about the crew’s challenges so far. “The floors are uneven because it’s settled over time and some of the beams are a little wavy.”
Along with the challenges, the location is something the crew loves.
“It’s got a ton of character,” Johnson said. “Pretty much anyone who has lived in Minot for any amount of time has seen it and knows the building.”
Johnson started as a home brewer about five years ago while Holwegner was the brewer for Souris River Brewing. The pair had collaborated on multiple occasions and decided that opening their own brewery is something they’d like to do together.
“That was probably coming up on two years ago,” Johnson said. “So it was a lot of planning.”
Once they went to apply for their TBB Brewer’s Notice Application, they needed a location. Davis, who owned the property on East Central Avenue, had been waiting on a new, cool idea to give the old building new life.
Most of the time, the license can take up to a year to receive, but Atypical got it back in 80 days.
“We started work on (the building) in December of 2017,” Johnson said. “Now we’re basically waiting to finish up little things here and there to get our final inspection from the city and then we can start serving.”
Dixon has been a key player in making the restoration of the building with his own business, BAD Creations, on site.
“He’s why (the building) looks the way it does,” Holwegner said. “The design, the execution… He’s the general contractor for this place. He owns his own business and part of this one.”
To introduce the community to the beer and culture of Atypical Brewery & Barrelworks, they are hosting a kick off party for the Why Not?! Fest in the courtyard behind their building. The party or street dance is $5 to get in and those 21 and over will have wristbands so people of all ages can attend. The Why Not?! Fest starts Friday and runs through Sunday, and is hosted by Pangea House.
During the party Thursday, their building will remain closed, but Johnson hopes to announce an official opening date at the event. Atypical plans to have three different beers available for the event.
“It feels really good,” Johnson said about people finally being able to try the beer. “It’ll feel better when people really enjoy, of course.”
As they’ve been fixing up their location, Johnson and Holwegner have been crafting different beers to offer Minot. The plan is to have six of their own beers on at a time with the ability to do eight.
“There will be at least one that’s the same – London Fog is going to be our entry-level to craft beer,” Johnson said. “It’s not too hoppy… It’s a cream ale that has vanilla and Earl Grey tea.”
They also specialize in sour beers, which Johnson admitted takes some getting used to. They will also have hoppier IPAs and dark stouts or porters in the mix.
“We are the first brewery in the state that is going to be focusing on barrel-aged sour beers,” Johnson said. “We’ll take our regular base beer, do a regular fermentation and then we’ll transfer it into barrels and add extra bacteria and wild yeast and let it sit in those barrels to anywhere from six months to three years.”
Johnson said wine fans tend to be fans of the barrel-aged beers because they have a lot of character from the brewing process.
As the name Atypical suggests, the crew wants to push the envelope on beer in North Dakota.
“I find if people are willing to try it and be open-minded about it, we can find something that they like,” Johnson said. “That’s part of the reason why London Fog came about… it’s kind of unique and it’s got a lot of flavors but it shouldn’t be anything that’s off-putting.”
To learn more, visit Atypical’s facebook page, @AtypicalBrew.