Leading up to our 6th Annual Rails & Ales: Light Rail Brewery Crawl, your local gurus at GetKnit will be doing a bi-weekly partner spotlight with the goal of helping you get to know our featured brewery partners that much better. Whether they are your favorite taproom in the Twin Cities or still on your “must hit” list, we hope you find this new article to be informative and entertaining! For our next installment of our partner spotlight we chatted with both the brewmaster, Mike Hoops, and general manager, Sean O’Brien, of Town Hall Brewing Company. Enjoy…
When did you open to the public?
Sean O’Brien: 1997. We celebrated our 21st birthday last year!
After 20+ years in the industry, what is the craziest thing you’ve ever experienced at your brewery?
Mike Hoops: It’s been a crazy great ride that I have been lucky to be part of. Currently, I can’t decide if it is more crazy for someone to ask for a classic English Bitter or to drink their IPA from a bowl.
What is the beer that you’ve brewed that you’re the most proud and why?
Mike Hoops: There are many, I have to mention Czar Jack. This was our first barrel aged beer made 20 years ago, a time before reusing barrels for aging beer in America was common. Czar Jack sparked our entire wood aging program, a program we consider ourselves lucky to be able to curate. Czar Jack also brought THB, our first GABF gold medal – always will love that beer.
What is your favorite beer that is not your own?
Sean O’Brien: If I am going to go local, it’s always going to be Summit EPA. Summit has been around even longer than we have, and it was my first craft beer experience. It will always have a special place in my heart.
What’s on the horizon for your brewery?
We have been very lucky with a base of customers that has been here for over 20 years. We are excited to modernize our brewhouse to more capable systems that will allow us to achieve even higher quality standards for the pubs we will continue to put in a neighborhood near you.
Who at your brewery has the best “brewery beard”?
Mike Hoops: Requesting beard pictures in summer is challenging, fortunately Jeff Pierce-Marten saves the day for THB with his “Most Respectable Beard”!
Are you team Minneapolis or team St. Paul?
Sean O’Brien: Man, this is a hard one. I am St Paul born and raised, but obviously I have Minneapolis ties now. I’ve gotta go with my roots, Team St Paul. Maybe one day I’ll convince our owner to open a location on that side of the river.
Most interesting beer flavor you’ve created?
Mike Hoops: When THB turned 10 our anniversary beer that year was made with 10 different types of honey and weighed in at 10%abv. Cant decide if the different honey varieties or the beer was more interesting. That beer was the first Eye of the Storm that received several Medals from the GABF.
What’s a fun fact about your head brewer?
Mike Hoops: He bought his first house at 18, backpacked the globe, drove to Alaska to work the fishing industry in Bristol Bay (without first being hired), attended brewing school in the UK, he has lot of stories…..if you can get him to tell you about them.
Can you share with us some “fun facts” about your brewery that we wouldn’t know from just visiting?
Town Hall Brewery was largely conceived at the Big Time Brewery in Seattle while our founder attended Graduate School in WA. THB has been awarded more Great American Beer Festival Awards than any other brewery in Minnesota at 15. Our original brewery was fabricated in Canby, OR in 1996. Although we still retain and operate all of the equipment the brewery has added tanks and been renovated 3 additional times with the 4th coming soon. Town Hall Brewery currently owns three additional satellite pubs that proudly serve Town Hall Beer.