Home(grown) brew: Bang Brewing Co., slated for February opening in St. Paul, promotes environmental sustainability

Sandy and Jay Boss Febbo stand in front of the Bang Brewing Co. building, which was scheduled to be completed the first week of December. (Photo by Lori Hamilton)

Sandy and Jay Boss Febbo are bringing a new meaning to the word “microbrew.”

Their 1,300-square-foot brew house at 2320 Capp Road is “small by design,” said Sandy Boss Febbo. “We are a super-small building with a small footprint.”

The Boss Febbos are committed to environmental sustainability in their new venture, Bang Brewing Co., slated to open in late February. The couple’s penchant toward that shows in the size of the building and the materials they have used to build it.

The corrugated metal structure, designed by Geoffrey Warner at Alchemy Architects on Raymond Avenue in south St. Anthony Park, “is partial pre-fab and incorporated a number of repurposed materials,” Sandy said. The brewery’s driveway contains reclaimed wood from the parkway near the Mill City ruins in downtown Minneapolis. The wood was sourced from Wood from the Hood, a Minneapolis company that reclaims discarded wood and trees from urban neighborhoods.

Both Jay and Sandy work downtown and commuted by car and bicycle on West River Parkway for years before it was paved with concrete, she said. Using oak planks that had been used to build that familiar section of the road and the adjacent bike and walk paths for the brewery’s driveway and window bucks “was a fun serendipity,” Sandy said. “We also reclaimed a neighbor’s cedar fence for some of our interior wall trim and picked up a used door for our cold room.”

The building, which resembles a grain bin, will be landscaped with a barley field. “Our intent is to show the cycle of barley growth, including potential crop rotation, while we rebuild the soil on our lot,” Sandy said. They are consulting with Driftless Organics, a community-supported agriculture (CSA) farm near Soldiers Grove, Wis., on the landscaping and are in talks with the farm about growing the organic grains that Bang will use in its beers. “It’s a ways off, but we’re hopeful,” Sandy said.

Bang Brewing plans to use only organic ingredients, said Jay Boss Febbo, but sourcing those ingredients locally isn’t easy. While they can get organic malt in Wisconsin, the hops will come from California, Sandy said. “Organic hops is difficult to produce,” she said, but noted that the University of Minnesota is doing a study on regional hop growing and bringing more of it into Minnesota and Wisconsin.

In line with the small footprint, the brew house is designed to reduce water use and “we are committed to utilizing wind-powered energy,” Sandy said. “We will be working to incorporate even more sustainable features as we go.”

Jay began brewing beer in 1993, while Sandy was caretaking an uncle’s home. “The kitchen had a large industrial stove,” Sandy said. “When Jay saw it, he said, ‘I could brew beer on that.’”

He bought his first brewing kit from Northern Brewer on Grand Avenue (he still has the receipt) and began a hobby that spurred a kitchen redesign in the Boss Febbo home in 2005 and now a new brewery on what was an undeveloped parcel of land just east of the Raymond Avenue railroad bridge in south St. Anthony Park. Sandy Boss Febbo is the niece of Andy Boss, retired president of St. Anthony Park Bank (now Park Midway Bank). Her father, Gary, was Andy’s brother.

Initially, the brewery will be open one or two weeknights and on Saturday afternoons, Sandy said. When customers visit the tasting room, they will be seated in the middle of the brewery, along with the sacks of grain and all the equipment needed to mash, boil and ferment the ingredients that go into beer.

Right: The Alchemy Architects drawing above shows the barley field the Boss Febbos hope to use as landscape around the new building.

The couple’s full-time jobs contributed to the naming of their brew. Jay is a software engineer at Wells Fargo. Sandy is an executive art producer at Carmichael Lynch. The name for their new venture “has a layered meaning” that fell out of both of their industries, Sandy said. The logo for the beer will be a stylized exclamation point, a nod to both computer culture and typography, where an exclamation point is called a “bang.”

“As Jay began his numbering system for his homebrews, he always started his file-naming convention with a bang instead of a hash tag,” Sandy said.

Bang Brewing will focus on American ales. Jay, who will be brewing the beer, said the company’s first release will be a very pale ale called “Neat.”

Sandy admits that she’s biased when it comes to her husband’s beers, “but his beers are good,” she said.

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Kristal Leebrick's picture
Kristal Leebrick

Kristal Leebrick (kristal [at] tcdailyplanet [dot] net) is the editor of the Park Bugle, a monthly nonprofit newspaper in St. Paul, Minn.