Steel Toe Brewing and the Minnesota Craft Beer Explosion

Our son started talking about Steel Toe Brewing before it even opened last August… he could hardly wait to have this craft microbrewery right in his own hometown of St. Louis Park! He was already a big fan of The Four Firkins, Minnesota's first specialty beer store, also in St. Louis Park not far from his home… and had been happily creating some of his own brews but even more significantly seeking out other craft brews. When he was late for an event a couple weeks ago because he was standing in line to get some bottles of  Steel Toe's limited release Size 11 I decided it was time to learn more about it.


So… I went with him to Steel Toe Brewing yesterday morning. One of the things our son loves about it is that is small… and their big dream is to keep it small. We were greeted with friendly, personalized service… and owner Jason Schoneman even invited us back for a tour!

Steeltoe1I was impressed to learn that his dream started in 1997 when he started homebrewing and caught the brewing bug. When he started thinking about doing it as his career he took it very seriously and did his due diligence by first working in a brewery… would he still love it after working 21 haour brew days and 15 hour bottling days? The answer was a resounding yes! It was fun to hear him talk about how even after 10 years of working in various breweries, going to brewing school and now having his own brewery it still doesn't feel like work… it's just doing what he loves. Isn't that exactly what life should be all about?!

Steeltoe-growler1Our son was returning a handful of empty Growlers to exchange for some full ones. My first question was 'What's a Growler?'  I learned that it's a large, refillable bottle jug… a way for small brewers to sell their brews to take home fresh from the brewery. Supposedly the name originated in the late 1800's and early 1900's when people would take home fresh beer from the local pub in a covered pail. As the beer sloshed around it released CO2 and created a 'growling' noise.

Which brings up a point of history. Local beers used to be part of American culture, which was lost in 1940's to 1980's. So the current craft beer movement isn't really something new… it could be called a return to normalcy, as is Steel Toe's commitment to buying used equipment, repurposing equipment and sourcing everything as locally as possible.

Portland, Oregon, led the return of craft beers and now has about 30% of its beer dollars spent on craft beers, countering the national trend of about 8%.

According to, there are currently 22 independent breweries in Minnesota. Of those, two date back to the 1800's (Cold Spring and Schell)… the next was Summit started in 1986, followed by two more in the 1990's. The next round started with Surly in 2005, which happens to be Minnesota's fastest growing brewery… then 5 more in 2005-2010… for a total of 12 breweries by 2010….

Steeltoe3a…followed by an explosion of 9 new breweries in 2011 and at least one already in 2012… what a dynamic movement!!

If you would like to visit Steel Toe Brewing at 4848 W 35th St in St. Louis Park, be sure to check hours first, they are open only a couple hours at a stretch, four days a week.

Steel Toe beer is on tap at Muddy WatersWoodfire Grill and Mill Valley Kitchen… and you can buy 22 oz bottles at The Four Firkins.

If you would like to live in St. Louis Park, home of Steel Toe Brewing and The Four Firkins, the first craft beer store in Minnesota… see homes for sale in St. Louis Park… then give me a call! 

Sharlene Hensrud, RE/MAX Results – EmailSt. Louis Park Realtor



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I love what I do! Highly insightful, analytical and creative, there is nothing I love more than helping you find the right solution for your real estate transition. My mission is to serve my clients with honesty and integrity, exceeding their expectations in service and support… and to help others by donating a portion of every transaction to Habitat for Humanity.

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