Wild Mind Artisan Ales under construction in Windom

Brewer Mat Waddell stands among the oak barrels at Wild Mind Artisan Ales. Photo by Michelle Bruch

Visitors who wind through the warehouses in Windom this summer will find a new beer garden and brewery at 6031 Pillsbury Ave. S.

Brewer Mat Waddell is in the midst of revamping the former A-OK Equipment & Supply Co. building (also a former car wash) into a “modern but warm” taproom with lots of glass, bright splashes of color, and window views that peek at a row of fermenters. He’s preparing to rehydrate oak barrels from Italy and convert a concrete pad into a grassy beer garden with trees, hop vines and strung lights.

The brewery takes its name from the wild yeast that Waddell has cultivated from raspberry bushes in his St. Paul backyard and wildflowers at state parks in Northern Minnesota. Waddell said the resulting taste is different from the malty or hop-forward taste generated with standard commercial yeast — instead a fruity, floral character comes through, he said.

Waddell said the brewery site wasn’t easy to find. In order to locate in South Minneapolis, he had to find a commercially-zoned spot at least three acres from homes. He landed in an industrial hub, next to the new Urban Hound Playground — he expects to invite dogs to the patio.

Waddell has a background in mechanical engineering and experience at Target Corp., but brewing has long been a passion. He was given a homebrew kit at age 21 and he worked at Capital Brewery while teaching in Madison. He grew up hearing stories about his grandparents, who lived on a farm in western Minnesota and bootlegged beer they brewed in the basement.

“There was always a culture of brewing in the family,” he said.

The taproom will initially offer farmhouse, saison and rustic style beers, as well as cider and mead. Sour beer will arrive in the following months.

Wild Mind Artisan Ales is slated to open this summer.