Still thirsty for a cold brew?
John Oswald hopes the people of Blue Earth are still thirsty for a good quality beer.
Because very soon his Oswald Brewery will be opening its doors, after about a two year process to get the business established and operating.
“The equipment and licenses are all in place and the beer is being brewed,” Oswald said last week. “We should be able to open the doors very soon possibly as early as this coming week.”
He admits it has been a long process and he also says he appreciates everyone’s support and continued interest in what he calls his ‘dream.’
“We actually started this business, at least on paper, in 2012,” he says. “That is when we incorporated.”
At the time Oswald and his wife, Tami, were living in Colorado Springs, Colorado. But, they wanted to move to a small town in the Midwest, one that had an excellent school system.
“I was born in Blue Earth,” Oswald says. “In the spring of 2013 we were back here visiting family and talked about maybe moving here.”
What sealed the deal was finding a former bank building for sale on Main Street.
“It had such great art deco architecture from the 1930s,” Oswald says. “It was so eclectic and looked like it would be a perfect spot to open a brewery.”
He talked to the city about changing the liquor ordinance to allow a micro-brewery and getting a license, then he bought the building. The couple quit their jobs in Colorado and sold their house there. John Oswald had been a construction manager for the city of Colorado Springs and Tami Oswald was a manager at a company that manufactured computer chips.
They moved to Blue Earth with their two girls, Tori and Taryn, in the fall of 2013. And John Oswald went to work on his dream project.
“The building was in worse shape than I thought, and it has been a long process,” he says. “It needed plumbing, electrical, water system and a lot of cleaning up. I was trying to turn a sow’s ear into a silk purse. It is still a ways from being a silk purse, but it’s closer.”
One thing Oswald notes is that all of the previous owners of the building left things behind. And, he has tried to incorporate some of that into the dcor. The bar itself, he explains, is built from the old bank teller window granite counter tops he found stored away in a crawl space.
While the building is important, what about the beer?
“Like a lot of people, I started as a home brewer,” Oswald says. “But I wanted to grow the idea into a business. My wife embraced the idea and we decided to go down this route.”
Oswald Brewery will have six to eight different beers on tap. Six will be regulars and one or two more will be seasonal.
“We will have a variety,” Oswald says. “From light to dark, something for everyone.”
In keeping with the Nordic theme of Oswald Brewery, the beers have Norse names. There is Valkyrie, a wheat beer; Fjord, a farm ale or saison beer; Thor’s Thirst, a California common beer; Odin’s Porter; Erik the Red amber ale; and a beer called Beserker, an NPA, or Norwegian Pale Ale.
“We have 150 gallons of beer ready to go,” Oswald says. “It will be the freshest beer in Faribault County unless you are making your own at home.”
Patrons can enjoy a cold draft beer in a pint glass on the premises. Or, they can also purchase a 64-ounce glass bottle called a growler to take some beer home in.
The growlers can be washed and brought back in to be refilled again and again, at a cost each time, of course.
“We are not bottling any beer here, at least not yet,” Oswald explains. “So the growlers are the way we do off sale.”
Oswald Brewery is planning a ‘soft’ opening soon, with limited hours to start. They plan on being open on Thursdays from 1-7 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays from 1-10 p.m. And eventually, they hope to be open on Sundays from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.
While Oswald Brewery is officially called a micro-brewery, Oswald says it might be more like a nano-brewery.
“We are pretty small,” he says. “But that is the idea, just to serve our local market. We make our beer in batches of 31 gallons at a time. It is a very hands on procedure, so when we say our beer is hand-crafted, it really is.”
Oswald adds he is grateful for the support of members of the business community and the city of Blue Earth and the Blue Earth Economic Development Authority. And all of the local contractors who have helped out.
“Everyone has offered their support and has been so accepting of us and our venture,” Oswald says. “We plan on being an active part of the community doing what we can to give back to it.”