Shoreview natives open new brewery in St. Paul


Three young men, who started their beer-brewing endeavors in a basement in Shoreview, have now opened their brewery — 12wleve Eyes — in a basement in downtown St. Paul. Pictured, Elliot Grosse, one of the owners and brewers, takes an order from some customers during a July 27 soft opening. Jesse Poole

Beers, some first concocted in a Shoreview basement, can now be enjoyed in a newly renovated space beneath one of downtown St. Paul’s historic buildings.

The new brewery, located in the Pioneer Endicott building on Robert and Fourth streets, officially opened to the public Friday, July 28. 

Dalton Buchta, Karl Eicher and Elliot Grosse grew up together in Shoreview. While “12welve Eyes” for any other glasses-wearing trio might have been the name of a high school band, these three didn’t set their sights on jamming out in a garage, but rather brewing beer in a basement. 

According to Buchta, thinking of themselves as a collective, they’ve referred to themselves as “12welve Eyes” for years. And now, in their mid-twenties, it’s what they’re calling their brewery. 

 

Taproom vibes

After months of renovating the space, the young men say the taproom “is no afterthought.” 

“We’ve spent pretty much our entire legal drinking lives home-brewing together,” Grosse says. “Now we’re trying to create the optimal space to enjoy that beer, whether in a group or by yourself.”

The three men say they wanted the taproom to have a “modern cafe” vibe. 

And it does: from high tables and modern geometric chairs, to the color of the walls and the art hanging on those walls — the trio achieved the environment they were aiming for. 

The space features a central bar similar to the TV show “Cheers,” and also similar to that 80s-era sitcom, patrons can enter from the street, coming down a set of stairs.   

Noticeable characteristics of the taproom are beer taps that travel down from the ceiling, plenty of windows for light, and space for outdoor seating, as the taproom has access to a private alley where folks can sit and food trucks can park. 

But one of the most differentiating aspects of 12welve Eyes is that the taproom feels much like a cozy bar, rather than a hulking brewhouse. That’s because the entire operation takes place in not one but three separate rooms in the basement. 

“It’s not just one giant facility like most breweries,” Grosse says, noting the taproom, brewhouse and cooler room for kegs are all separated by walls, all on the garden level of one side of the building. 

“Because our taproom and our brewhouse are in two different rooms, it allows our taproom to have 10-foot ceilings rather than 24-foot ceilings.”

Grosse says that means the taproom is more “acoustically pleasing” and “more intimate and comfortable.”

 

And the beer?

The night before its official opening, the crew held a soft opening for those invited and those who just happened to wander in from the street. 

Folks gathered at the bar and commented on any one of the 12 available beers, which range from IPAs to pale ales to darker beers and more. 

From behind the bar, Grosse says it’s “sad that people have low standards for the beer at new breweries,” after someone commented on one beer’s good quality.

With no operational plans for distribution, the men say they were able to place much of their focus on the beer itself, using all the techniques they’ve honed over the years, and some of the recipes they came up with in their parents’ basements in Shoreview.

With assistance from a Portland, Oregon brewer to translate a lot of their home-brewing knowledge into commercial-brewing terms, for the past year they’ve only been making beer they know they could make commercially in order to prepare.

Alongside the beer, another thing customers will notice — as they did during the soft opening on July 27 — is that the brewers will be familiar faces behind the bar. 

Buchta, Eicher and Grosse say this also sets 12welve Eyes apart from other breweries in town.

“We may hire a few people,” Grosse says, noting that one of those people is his sister. “But really, we’ll be the ones getting this off the ground. A lot of times, the owners and head brewers stay behind the scenes, but we’ll be at the counter taking orders, too.”

 

Jesse Poole can be reached at jpoole@lillienews.com or at 651-748-7815


 

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