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New brewery to open in downtown Hastings

Spiral Brewery is planning to open its doors in downtown Hastings this summer. Pictured from left are Jen Fox, Nick Fox, Luke McGuire, Amy Fox and Claire Sandahl. (Star Gazette photo by Michelle Wirth)

Downtown Hastings will soon be home to a new brewery with a name paying homage to an iconic feature in Hastings history, the Spiral Bridge. Spiral Brewery plans to open its doors in July 2017. The brewery will be located at 111 E. Second St.; the current occupant, Rachel Marthaler Photography Studio, will be moving to a new location.

The new downtown brewery will have a warm and welcoming atmosphere. It will feature a taproom for beer lovers to taste the various beers Spiral Brewery will have on tap. Live music will be possible with the small stage that is planned to be located in the taproom and brewery tours will be offered so that customers can see how the beer is brewed.

Some of the faces behind the new brewery are Hastings natives Nick and Amy Fox. Nick and Amy are Hastings High School graduates of 2002 who moved back to Hastings after attending college at Gustavus Adolphus. One of their favorite things to do over the past 10 years has been traveling to different breweries, whether it is in Portland or Denver or somewhere in California or Wisconsin. Those experiences really fed their love of craft beer, Nick said.

"We wanted to do something that fed into our passion and our love and also our love for our town," Nick said.

Nick and Amy started talking about what they could do with Nick's sister, Jen Fox, and that's when the idea of a brewery in downtown Hastings came up.

"We thought it would really fit and it was something we were passionate about and it just jived with everything, so we started working on it," Amy said.

Fast forward about three years. Today, the idea of Spiral Brewery is on the verge of being a reality, but that didn't come easy. Nick and Amy spent a lot of time learning about the business and interviewing people at other local taprooms. They developed a business plan and Jen hopped on board to help with social media and community outreach, but they still needed a brewer.

Brewing

Claire Standahl and Luke McGuire have been avid home brewers for the last 10 years. McGuire said he got more and more interested by continually buying books on brewing chemistry and brewing engineering. Then he went through a program with the American Brewer's Guild, a craft brewer apprenticeship program.

When Nick and Amy started looking for people to hire, Standahl and McGuire fit into their plan perfectly. Standahl and McGuire were also toying with the idea of opening a brewery at the time, and it just made sense for them to hop on board.

"I want people to drink Luke's beer," Nick said. "I am a beer connoisseur. I love good beer, he makes great beer."

McGuire said he has a handful of recipes ready for their launch. There will be a kolch, a pale ale, an IPA, a red, a porter and a stout. And if brewed well, McGuire said that he feels that any type of beer can be a good beer.

"My big thing is drinkability; in my mind, if someone can't finish a pint and then want another one right away, that means (I) probably haven't hit the mark what I'm looking for," McGuire said.

Once the brewery is launched and things progress, McGuire hopes to create some variations and seasonal beer. He said he will be brewing as many different beers as people want to try.

With McGuire on board as the brewmaster and Standahl helping with social media and community outreach, the team was in place. The search for the Spiral Brewery building began.

Location

Nick said they spent a lot of time looking for a building that would be home to Spiral Brewery. They knew they wanted to be downtown along the river.

"Finding the right space was a huge hurdle," he said.

Now that the location has been pinned down, plans for renovations before the grand opening are in the works. Although nothing has been decided yet, Nick said that the aesthetics of the brewery will be a warm industrial look.

"The decor will be centered around Hastings and the rich history," he said.

Hastings used to be home to a few other breweries in the early 1900s. Hastings Brewing Company was one of those breweries, but it ended when prohibition began in 1920. Nick said that they came across a few photographs of those old breweries and they want to display that in their taproom. With the history of breweries in the town, Jen said that they are excited to bring one back to the area.

"We're really excited to add the craft brewery movement to Hastings and have the community embrace it and figure out where they fit within it too," Jen said.

Community

"Our mission is brewing community through quality beer and rich history," Amy said.

The quality beer and rich history is pretty clear from the inside and out of Spiral Brewery. Spiral was the first name that came to mind when they were talking about a brewery, Amy said. The name of the brewery is an ode to the the town and the names of the beers will also be town centered. For example, there will be the LeDuc Red, the Oliver's Grove Pale Ale, the Downward Spiral IPA.

In addition to the branding, Amy said that Spiral Brewery will have a community focus in other ways. In order to go on a brewery tour, people will be asked to give a monetary donation or can of food, which will go toward Hastings Family Service.

The brewery hopes to partner with other local businesses as well. People visiting the taproom will be encouraged to bring in "brew boxes" or food from local restaurants. Nick said they also hope to donate spent grain to farmers for fertilizer and feed.

Other ways the brewery hopes to have a community-first mentality is through featuring local artists and musicians in the space and getting involved with local events like Rivertowns Days, car shows, Hootenany and more.

"The bottom line is we want to be a brewery that serves the community," Nick said.

Spiral Brewery will begin a kickstarter campaign where the community will have an opportunity to get involved with the brewery. For more information about the campaign follow Spiral Brewery on Twitter @SpiralBrewery or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/SpiralBrewery.

Michelle Wirth

Michelle Wirth graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire in 2013 with a degree in journalism and web design. She worked as a web content editor for a trade association before coming to the Hastings Star Gazette in 2016.

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