Wonderstuff. Stargrazer. Wagon Party. Sky-Five! These are not the names of ordinary beers. But then again, Bauhaus Brew Labs is not your average brewery.
After launching a successful Kickstarter campaign in May of 2014, they opened up operations in Northeast Minneapolis just two months later, complete with a taproom, outdoor biergarten and canning line. And things have been shooting sky-high (or five!) ever since.
“We’re thrilled and love how people have embraced us and helped us grow so quickly,” said co-owner and brewer Matt Schwandt. “In our wildest dreams we’d hoped for this kind of a trajectory, but didn’t realize just how thirsty people are for this kind of beer.”
Bauhaus specializes in lagers, which are brewed at lower temperatures using a strain of yeast traced back to South America, which is why they are considered a newer edition to the pantheon of beers, and really, the only American contribution. “We wanted to introduce lagers to a new generation of beer drinkers,” said Schwandt. “They’re not just Bud Light. We wanted to turn that idea on its head.”
And turn heads they have. Their beers, all of which can be found at the new Wedge Table, alternate between crisp, clean and complex. Wonderstuff is the upgraded classic; Stargrazer is the dark (literally) horse; Wagon Party is the new kid on the block; and Sky-Five is the heady, spicy crowd favorite. Each one is like no lager you’ve ever had. But the thing that strikes you first about Bauhaus beers isn’t the hops or the malt; it’s the packaging. Bold colors, simplified forms, and modern lines exemplify the brand’s namesake school of thought, and are repeated on everything from their cans to their taps to the huge I-beams that criss-cross their functionally industrial brewing/drinking space. “We knew from the beginning we wanted to be different, interesting and impactful,” said Schwandt. “The brewery and the brand is just a natural extension of our family— we’re a little quirky, but we embrace it. We like being different, and we’re comfortable in our own skin.”
Bauhaus is a family business and has been since day one, when Schwandt decided to leave his job as an attorney and turn his homebrewing passions into more than just a side gig. And as it turned out, Schwandt has a pretty talented family. While he brews the beers, his wife Lydia steers the big-picture ship, directing operations and handling HR. His brother and his wife (both in the advertising business) handle the marketing and communications. And his other brother manages sales and distribution, where he’s worked for more than a decade. In less than a year, Bauhaus is already being sold in 70 liquor stores and even more bars and restaurants around the Twin Cities, which is not too shabby. But more than the tangible successes they’re enjoying right now, Schwandt is thankful for the smaller pleasures he’s been afforded by the way they’ve set up their business, like getting to see his kids every day. “They know this place like the back of their hands,” he said, looking up at the fermenters lined up behind the bar.
And while the Brew Lab feels unmistakably like a production space, the atmosphere is wholly kid-friendly, from the duo of video arcade games to a shelf lined with board games, and even a corner with bigger toys, like a loud, rolling Tonka truck. It feels like the kind of place you could come with more than one generation of your family tree. And that’s not by mistake. “We want to be a new kind of family brewery and pedigree,” says Schwandt. “We’re not traditionalists. It’s time to switch it up.”
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