|2/7/2019 1:53:00 PM|
The Uncommon Loon is calling from Chisago City
Since a week before Christmas, that sound you can hear off of Highway 8 in Chisago City isn’t that of Minnesota’s official bird, but that of a excited buzz surrounding The Uncommon Loon Brewery.
The brewery, which hadbeen a long time in the making prior to its opening on December 19, has been packed nightly since opening, with customers raving about the interior, the ideas, the location, but most of all, the beer.
Co-owner Brad Klatt, who resides in Chisago City, has dreamt of being able to brew his own beer for public consumption for a long time now. The former engineer used to brew his own beer at home, but of course, it was only enough for him and maybe a few friends. He always wanted to do it on a bigger scale, and when he retired from his job almost three years ago, the 19-year Chisago City resident knew exactly what he wanted to do.
That’s when he partnered with Mark Skoglund, more affectionately known as Corky, and John Cariveau to begin to work to make the dream a reality.
Eventually, Klatt found out the old Chisago City Community Center and Fire Hall was for sale, and he scheduled a tour to take a look at the buidling.
“The first step I took into the fire hall, I knew that was the building I wanted. It had trucks parked in it and a bunch of gear draped all around, but I knew it would be perfect for what we wanted to do,” Klatt said. “It’s almost as if I could picture where I wanted everything to be in my first visit to the fire hall.”
After Klatt, Skoglund and Cariveau finished their acquisition of the building, they went about a complete and total renovation of the fire hall, turning it into a bar area, and also installation of the most important part of the operation: the brewery. The brewery features 10 barrels to brew, a walk in cooler that stores the beer in 310 gallon serving tanks to always keep the beer cold, and other machinery necessary for a smooth brewing and serving process.
Klatt seems to already know everyone who walks through the door, and while he certainly enjoys conversations with nearly all of his customers, he really wants people to keep coming back because they like the beer. His initial batch at opening included six different beers, including what Klatt calls their “flagship beer”, Speckled Loon. Klatt describes it as a light and refreshing cream ale that is on the lighter side. Other beers on tap include Sunrise River Hefe, Uncommon Blonde, Northwest IPA, Nut Brown Ale and Chocolate Stout. He has already expanded to new beers based on the demand and popularity, and he introduced a Great Horned Ale in January.
It’s a list that Klatt thinks will please any palate that walks through the door. “I want to brew beer for everyone,” he said. “I want there to be a beer for anyone who comes to Uncommon Loon.”
The response has been overwhelmingly positive so far, Klatt said. The brewery has already hosted a number of bands and events and Klatt said he wants to make that at least a weekly occurence. They also installed a 70 inch HDTV that will crank out local sports for viewers.
In the warmer months, there is a patio behind the brewery already, but Klatt has plans on expanding it to be bigger. The bar area also features an inside/outside bar with garage doors that open to the inside when the sun is shining.
Currently, only popcorn and peanuts are available for munchies, but Klatt hopes in the future to add a kitchen to the space. In the meantime, however, Klatt was very welcoming of patrons bringing in their own food, which will be much easier once The Stone Inn, a new restaurant from the owners of Old Log Cabin in Scandia, is completed right next to the community center in the old Roadhouse/Rocky J’s building.
Starting out as a small local business, Klatt can appreciate that fight and drive it takes to succeed, so he’s done what he can to make sure he has local ingredients and local flair at his brewery. Although beer starts and ends with four basic ingredients -- water, yeast, malt and hops -- Klatt has found local sources for his hops. They come mostly from Country Bitters Hop Farm in Center City and St. Croix Valley Hops in St. Croix Falls, Wisconsin. “We want people to get that local flavor and that local feel when they come in and have a beer at the Loon.
Most of the local flair comes from the centerpiece of any drinking establishment: the bar. After Meredee’s Bistro closed down, they held a sale for all the bar and restaurant equipment, and the Loon bought the bar, which was in the building through Meredee’s Bistro, the Dinerbel and Mariner’s Moon, and had been at the St. Paul Hotel for decades prior to that. It’s a large, tradition-rice piece that is a great centerpoint for the taproom.
Klatt and his partners have done their best to cultivate a local, fun, desireable spot to brew and drink beer, and they’re hoping the community will embrace it and continue to make the spot a popular one.