Young Flat Earth Brewery Expanding Into Old Hamm's Brewery
There’s a new story on the local Minnesota beer front and it isn’t the Surly Brewery going up in Minneapolis. Flat Earth Brewing Co., part of the Twin Cities’ growing craft beer economy, plans to expand into several abandoned buildings at the old Hamm’s Brewery in the East Side neighborhood of St. Paul.
The microbrewer has won initial approval from the city for a $375,000 loan to spur the move from its current quarters on Benson Avenue. If and when the City Council approves the loan, Flat Earth will move its brewing operation into Building 8, which is the former Hamm’s keg-washing operation. Flat Earth is also looking at Buildings 7 and 9 for future use as a public tap/tasting room and maybe a beer garden.
The St. Paul-based microbrewer wants to increase production and expand its distribution network outside of Minnesota. Brews such as Angry Planet Pale Ale and Livid Planet Pale Ale and seasonal favorite Black Helicopter Coffee Stout are popular among Twin Cities beer-drinkers, but there hasn’t been room to produce more. Privately held Flat Earth produced 1,300 barrels of beer in 2012.
Flat Earth will be renovating and retrofitting buildings that have been part of St. Paul’s East Side for about 150 years. Building 9, a former carpentry shop that dates back to 1864 and 1867, is in bad shape, especially after a fire that occurred in 2005. Buildings 7 and 8, erected in 1893 and 1901, respectively, are structurally sound, but need a lot of work after having been abandoned for many years.
Flat Earth won’t be alone, as a new company called Urban Organics will also call the 8-acre brewery complex home. Urban Organics is currently repurposing the former Hamm’s stockhouse into an aquaponics operation. Ultimately, the group hopes to raise tilapia, lettuce and herbs.
Back in the 1950s, Hamm’s was the nation’s fifth-largest beer company, at one time employing 2,000 people. However, a series of corporate ownership changes, and the company’s delayed entry into the light-beer market, doomed the brewery. It closed up shop in 1997.