Utepils Brewing Company breaks ground


The founders of Utepils Brewing Company held a ceremonial groundbreaking Thursday amid active construction on the brewhouse and taproom, located in the former Glenwood-Inglewood bottling plant.

The brewery is projected to open late this summer, said founder and Utepils President Dan Justesen, who hoisted a golden shovel alongside Hennepin County Commissioner Linda Higgins and Ward 5 City Council Member Blong Yang. The ceremony was a chance for Justesen to tout the new jobs Utepils plans to bring to the Harrison neighborhood: 15 full-time equivalent positions when the brewery opens, 28 in year two and “well over 40” in about five years.

The 50-barrel brewhouse will be among the ten largest in the state when it opens its doors. Head brewer Eric Harper, formerly of Summit Brewing in St. Paul and New Glarus Brewing Company in Wisconsin, is in charge of producing what’s been billed as a menu of European-style craft beers.

“We’re making it big because we see where the market is going,” Justesen said. “We’re making it good because that’s what the market demands.”

Utepils Brewing Company is just one piece of a larger plan to revitalize the former Glenwood-Inglewood site and the adjacent Fruen Mill. Haig Newton and Chris Jahnke of @Glenwood LLC, who operate two businesses out of the remodeled Glenwood-Inglewood office building, are the latest to attempt a redevelopment of the mill, which has in the past been eyed for conversion into condominiums.

“We want to see amazing things happen here,” Yang, who represents the area on the City Council, said.

Higgins noted the brewery’s natural setting — next to Bassett Creek and on the southern edge of Theodore Wirth Park — will be a big part of the draw when the 150-seat taproom opens later this year. Phase two of construction on the site calls for a large outdoor patio overlooking the creek.

Originally known as Bryn Mawr Brewing — despite being located just over the border in the Harrison neighborhood — the brewery underwent a name change last fall to avoid conflict with a similarly named Oregon winery. According to Justesen, “utepils” is a Norwegian term used to describe the first beer enjoyed outdoors in the spring.

Justesen said he was pleased that cold rain was falling outside as the ceremony took place indoors. It would just build the anticipation for sipping a beer on that first nice day at Utepils, he said.