Clean, approachable, classic. Historic, innovative, tasteful.
Those are all words used by Keith Hefley to describe the beer brewed at 22 Northmen Brewing Company.
Hefley is the head brewer at Alexandria's newest craft brewery. Set to open this Saturday, June 15, the operation is owned by Kim and Tami Bredeson, who also own Carlos Creek Winery. The brewery is on the same property as the winery on County Road 34 NW in Alexandria.
A brewer for the past 18 years, Hefley said he loves lighter, delicate-styled beers that have distinguishable characteristics.
"We really want to focus on the classics," he said. "Some of our beers will have ingredients from Scandinavia, but we will also use ingredients from other regions, like England, Belgium and the U.S.
"We really want to capture the essence of beers from those different regions. And we want to focus on historical styles from lands the Vikings explored and stay true to our Norwegian heritage."
For its grand opening, 22 Northmen will have nine beers on tap, and it is expected to expand its selection. The nine beers include a German pilsener, a Belgian pale ale, a brown porter, a Scottish ale, a Norse lager, a Norwegian farmhouse pale, a Kolsch, a sommer lager and an American double dry hopped India pale ale.
Because the brewery shares ownership with the winery - it will be only the second winery/brewery in Minnesota, with the other in Waconia - Hefley said he'll have access to barrels and plans on starting a sour beer program using traditional barrel aging and blending, rather than quick kettle souring used in other breweries.
He also expects to do some beer/wine pairing, and is excited to work with the senior winemaker, Russ Funk.
"We want to keep with the theme and focus, and we want to create an experience that is unique to our guests. And we want each beer to stand out," said Hefley, who has been the head brewer in Gunnison and Pueblo, Colorado; St. Louis; and a lead brewer in Duluth under Dave Hoops and Frank Kazuba.
In staying true to its heritage, 22 Northmen will offer traditional wood-fired pizza at Valkyrie Pizza, located right inside the brewery. Hefley said Amber Binderup will be heading up the kitchen.
The design of the building emulates a Norwegian long hall with interior ceilings soaring 32 feet and was built by local contractor Nate Buschard. The walls and ceilings are covered in wood reclaimed from a 200-year-old Catholic church in Wisconsin. The lights, created by Kim Bredeson, are made from Alexandria Light and Power wire spools and in true Carlos Creek Winery style, retired barrels are also used throughout the building.
According to Tami Bredeson, the building really provides a very unique craft brewery experience.
"Beer drinkers will discover the beers are exceptionally well-crafted," she said.