Spend any amount of time talking about beer with Pete and Dee DeLange and Bob and Kaye DeLange, and it’s apparent that the Waconia citizens are both knowledgeable and appreciative when it comes to a good brew.
It’s also no surprise, then, to learn that the DeLanges are the driving forces behind the Waconia Brewing Company, which will become the city’s first brewery since the late 1800s when it opens this August or September.
“Waconia has waited 100-plus years for a brewery to return and we’re happy to bring beer back to Waconia,” said Dee, who will serve as the day-to-day manager of the tap room and coordinate the brewery’s marketing and events. Her husband, Pete, and his brother, Bob, will manage operations and administrative duties. The DeLanges are in the process of hiring a head brewer with plans to have that person start in June.
The brewery is located at 255 W. Main Street, which citizens may recall as the former downtown Waconia location of the L’il Explorers childcare center. Waconia Brewing Company has signed a seven-year lease for the approximately 5,500 square foot space, which is currently being renovated by contractor Mathews Vasek Construction. The brewery equipment is expected to arrive and be installed in June or July.
In the meantime, the DeLanges are working to complete the federal licensing process, after which they will tackle the state licensing process for operating Waconia Brewing Company, which is technically a microbrewery, meaning that the majority of beer produced will be sold on-site in the tap room. Guests will also be able to purchase fresh beer and take home in refillable growlers, which are 64-ounce jugs.
The DeLanges plan to offer kegs at local liquor stores and hope to have product available on tap at 15 to 20 local establishments. Eventually, they hope to sell individual 22-ounce bombers at area stores.
Waconia Brewing Company will employ a 10 barrel brew house system and four 20 barrel fermenters in the brew house, which will take up approximately 2,800 square feet of the brewery. The rest of the space will be devoted to the tap room, which will have seating capacity for 80 people.
According to Bob, they plan to offer 10 different types of beer on tap, including four to five flagship beers with the rest being seasonal beers, like Oktoberfest, or beers made for special events, such as Nickle Dickle Day. In terms of the flagship beers, the DeLanges are planning to create a lighter style Kolsch beer, a wheat beer, an IPA, a stout or porter beer, and an amber or brown ale style beer.
The flavors of the beers will be based on the tastes of the DeLanges (Pete and son Dru are experienced home brewers) along with input from whoever is hired as the head brewer and Kevin DeLange, who is Pete and Bob’s younger brother. Kevin owns the Dry Dock Brewery Co. in Aurora, Colo. Community members and local home brewers will also be invited to sample the early test batches and offer their feedback.
“When we start experimenting, we will use (all of these resources) to get our flagship brews on tap,” said Bob, who said all involved are very excited to be starting a family business together. “Our families have always wanted to do this. We have a passion for good beer and we love talking to people.”
Bob and Kaye recently moved to Waconia from Iowa due to a job promotion and to be closer to family and they are excited about opening the brewery in Waconia.
Dee said the families have always been entrepreneurial and creating a brewery is a perfect fit. As their roles are based on individual strengths, she thinks they should make a successful team.
“I love being busy,” she said. “I’m a social butterfly. For me, this is going to be really fun. I already know a lot of people in Waconia and now I’ll get to meet all the people I don’t know.”
Pete described himself as the business guy and said Waconia is a great location for a microbrewery.
“We hope to create something really novel for Waconia. I’m really excited about it,” said Pete, who expressed his appreciation for the support Waconia Brewing Company has received from the city of Waconia. “I’m incredibly impressed by the city. They’ve worked hard to make this work for us.”
From the very name of the brewery, the names of the future products, and even its logo (which includes images of the city along with its latitude and longitude, etc.), the DeLanges are incorporating the spirit of the community in their business.
“There’s a ton of Waconia pride in Waconia and the surrounding area and we want to capture that in the names,” said Dee, who mentioned that the tap room will be decked out in a north woods style. “It will have a very comfortable, very inviting atmosphere. We’re huge fans of local craft beer and we want a place where couples can come and feel welcome.”
In addition to the names and logos, etc., the DeLanges are planning to immerse the brewery into the community by holding events of interest, like bike races and runs, as well as holding fun activities at the brewery, like live acoustic music performances, game nights and events related to Nickle Dickle Day and Oktoberfest.
For more information or apparel related to Waconia Brewing Company, visit www.waconiabrewing.com or find the brewery on Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites.
“We have 1,200 likes on Facebook and we haven’t even sold a beer yet,” noted Dee, who on behalf of the rest of the DeLanges thanked the community for its support thus far.
Contact Todd Moen at [email protected]