Old Hamm's brewery finds new life in three businesses

(Photo by Karin DuPaul) Standing in front of the entrance to the Flat Earth Brewing Company are, from left: Lee Egbert and Bob McManus, owners of 11 Wells Distillery; John Warner, owner of Flat Earth; Bob Roepke, Flat Earth Brewer Master; and Franco Claseman, Flat Earth Operations Manager.

The rich history of the Hamm’s Brewery, the desire to be part of the renewal of these historic buildings, and the water from “the land of sky blue waters” brought three businesses to the oldest buildings on the Hamm’s Brewery campus: the city-owned buildings on the south side of East Minnehaha Avenue.

Flat Earth Brewing Company

Beer is being brewed in the Hamm’s Brewery once again! East Siders are thrilled to have this happening. Flat Earth has 13 beers and also has a wonderful Root Beer and Ginger Ale. John Warner and Franco Claseman revived the failing Flat Earth Brewing in the West 7th Street area because they wanted to create jobs and do something good to help St. Paul. When they outgrew their space, they chose the Hamm’s Brewery because they liked the history and wanted to be part of the “Save the Hamm’s Brewery” efforts, as well as create more jobs and be a positive force on the East Side. Franco said that Hamm history has been very important; many people who come into their building were former employees or have family who worked at Hamm’s and like to talk about the good old days.

Flat Earth is in the buildings that were the old Racking Room, Wash House and the carpenter shop. Their public room has the old-time charm of Hamm’s and is very welcoming. It is used for events and as the tasting room where visitors can come in and taste a variety of Flat Earth beers. It is open on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays from 3:30 to 6:30 pm and on Saturdays from noon to 6:30 pm. Growlers of beer are for sale from noon to 6:30 pm, Mondays through Saturdays. A “growler” is a 64-ounce glass jug you purchase full of beer or root beer, and bring back empty to get another full one. Flat Earth does request that visitors bring a nonperishable food item for the food shelf when they come for tours. Helping the food shelves is very important to Flat Earth Brewing Company. For information, check out www.flatearthbrewing.com.

Flat Earth Brewing Company is located at 688 East Minnehaha Avenue. Enter the driveway between Urban Organics and the old Hamm’s Stock House No. 2 on the south side of Minnehaha Avenue.

11 Wells Distillery

The owners of 11 Wells Distillery are Bob McManus, who has both business analysis and microbiology experience, and Lee Egbert, who has a botanical and design background.

11 Wells Distillery, formerly Mill City Distillery, moved to Dayton’s Bluff into the old Hamm’s Brewery. They changed the name of their distillery to 11 Wells Distillery, partly because the old Hamm Brewery had 11 wells that they used back in the old days. “We wanted to pay homage to the tremendous history of the Hamm's brew-ery,” Bob said.

11 Wells is decorated with some of the old brewery items that were left behind in the old buildings. “We are excited to bring fermentation back to Hamm's and bring the building to life as an asset to the revitalization of the Payne/Phalen corridor and Dayton’s Bluff,” Bob said.

11 Wells Distillery is in the old Blacksmith and Pipe Shop buildings of the former Hamm's Brewery at 704 East Minnehaha Avenue. The community is invited to an open house on Saturday, August 16, from noon until 4:00 pm. Come, and welcome them to the neighborhood.

Urban Organics

Urban Organics was the first of the three businesses to open in the city-owned Hamm Brewery buildings. Some time ago, owner Dave Haider told Friends of Swede Hollow members about him buying old Stock House #3 and turning it into an aquaponics operation to grow fish and vegetables. Dave went on to say that he really wanted to do it at Hamm’s, as his grandfather worked there. It sounded like it was a great plan and they have done it.

Urban Organics raises fish in large tanks. Then wastewater is pumped from the tanks into the growing beds, where the plants absorb the nutrients, cleaning the water so it can be pumped back into the fish tanks. The only water loss comes from evaporation. Their lettuce and other vegetables are beautiful. Lunds and Byerly’s stores purchase all of Urban Organics products. For more information, visit urbanorganics.com.

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Karin DuPaul's picture
Karin DuPaul