By Gabe Licht
DELANO, MN It started with a symbol, a wolf’s paw with a hop bud replacing one of its claws.
That was the inspiration behind the name of Lupine Brewing, which opened Aug. 8 at 248 N. River St. in Delano.
“We thought, ‘Let’s start with the concept of the paw,’” said James Anderle, who partnered with Mike Dumas and Eric Sargent to found the brewery. “Leafing through a magazine, I saw the word lupine and it resonated with me. In Latin, it is anything pertaining to a wolf.”
Finally, after a long process of brainstorming names to find something original, Lupine had an identity.
Now, it needed a location.
In February of 2014, Lupine began leasing and brewing at the former McCann’s Food and Brew location in St. Cloud, with plans to open a brewery and tap room elsewhere.
With Dumas and Anderle hailing from Hanover, and Sargent nearby in St. Michael, the group first looked at a Hanover location.
When those plans fell through, they kept looking until they found the former Mucho Amigo building in Delano.
“We ended up finding this building in Delano and we really liked the quaintness of it,” Dumas said. “We like the history of an older building on the river in Delano. We saw a vision of being able to bring back the look of older buildings of downtown Minneapolis and St. Paul to Delano.”
Preparing the building for a new business was a lot of work.
“We didn’t realize all the potential in it or the disaster we had to go through to get to where we are today,” Dumas said. “There was brick falling out, ceiling falling down, and a little bit of asbestos that had to be removed.”
Crews addressed those issues and removed the old kitchen.
They also removed a hanging ceiling and fake wood ceiling to find the original tin ceiling throughout the main level. All the tin was taken down so sheet rock could be installed to bring the building up to fire code. For the bar ceiling, the best tin pieces were selected, power washed, acid washed, painted, and installed. Remaining pieces were sold to two Delano people who were restoring old farmhouses.
To maintain the brick, all the walls were cured, with extra layers going on the walls in the brewing room to keep out moisture.
A basement below that room was completely filled in with 6.5 feet of sand compacted every 4 inches, topped off with 6 inches of concrete slanted to a drain.
When floor joists were removed, they were reclaimed and used for the bar top, table tops, and bathroom vanities.
The group prided itself on having local labor from Delano and communities within a 25-mile radius complete the work.
With the tap room open, the next step is to brew beer in Delano.
It is currently being brewed in St. Cloud, with plans to move all brewing operations to Delano by late October, Dumas said.
Master brewer Grant Aldrich oversees the brewing process.
Current beers include the Convocation Tea Ale, Lupine IPA, Rout Brown Ale, O’Phelan Irish Ale, Murder of Cranberries Oatmeal Cranberry Stout, and Einzelganger German Alt.
All beer names have a link to the animal kingdom, as convocation is a group of eagles, a rout is a pack of wolves in movement, phelan is Gaelic for wolf, a murder is a group of crows, and einzelganger is German for lone wolf.
Even more important than the beers’ names is how they taste.
“We wanted to have a good variety of beers that were well-balanced, and something different not a lot of breweries are doing,” Anderle said. “With the tea ale and oatmeal cranberry stout, we’re trying to be subtle, and the IPA started out on the lower end of IBUs (International Bittering Units). We wanted to create a beer people would want to drink.”
If accolades are any indication, Lupine has succeeded in creating well-balanced beers, as it won the Lord Dabbler’s Cup as the best brewery at the St. Paul Winter Carnival Beer Dabller. As a reward, Lupine’s new wheat wine was the first beer tapped by St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman at the Summer Beer Dabbler Saturday at CHS Field.
Lupine has also been well-received in Delano.
“The whole community has just been great,” Anderle said. “Everyone seems really excited we’re here and we are, too.”
Anderle has enjoyed seeing the interest in the brewery grow from when the project began in January to its soft opening.
“As this has been unveiled, people have been walking by and popping their heads in,” Anderle said. “It’s been fun to do it with the community and have people follow us every step of the way. We’re excited to be able to immerse ourselves in the community. It’s really important to us.”
Giving back is also important to Lupine, and all tips are currently being donated to the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Anderle said it is one way to help an organization that helped his family cope with the loss of a child in 1999.
They have sponsored 10 wishes with the help of a broomball tournament and are considering hosting local events to benefit the organization.
Lupine is planning a grand opening for sometime in September, with Aldrich hosting a beer release party before then. During the grand opening, a mural will be painted on an open wall during business hours.
Live music will also be featured at Lupine in the future.
“We have our license already,” Anderle said. “We’re looking into improving the acoustics of the building. With Three Crows no longer here, we know that was popular, and we want to bring it back.”
Lupine is open 4 to 10 p.m. Wednesdays and Thursdays, 4 to 11 p.m. Fridays, 2 to 11 p.m. Saturdays, and 2 to 6 p.m. Sundays.
For more information, follow the link at www.delanoheraldjournal.com.