When we took on the Fulton Brewery construction project, it was new and exciting for us and them. While we've been building in and around central Minnesota for decades, this was our first brewery. The project gave us a chance to flex our Design/Build muscles and put our skills to the test.
With the recent boom in Minnesota's brewery business, breweries are bigger, better and more “in” than ever before. These buildings encompass micro-breweries, taprooms, restaurants, meeting places and tour destinations, and no single brewery is the same. Here's the story of our first brewery project - it's definitely not our last.
Fulton Brewery started as a home-brewing hobby in 2006 in a one-car garage in Minnesota. When four friends joined together, sipping their first brew they knew that one day they would run a brewery together. Not too many years (but several hours of hard work) later, Fulton made a name for itself in Minnesota and beyond. Read their full origin story here.
Because this was our first brewery build, there was more "due diligence" required during the planning stages. As a whole, we needed to understand the brewing industry in order to integrate that knowledge into our construction plans, processes and ideas.
We considered the need for unique flooring and ways to accommodate the brewing equipment. Previously, Fulton was unable to gat their fermenter into the building. There was a lot of strategizing and brainstorming involved with the project. We learned a lot. Brewery construction isn’t for the fainthearted – which is perfect for us.
The Fulton Project
The Fulton Brewery project took the Design/Build approach. Rather than building from the ground up, they retrofitted an existing space in Northeast Minneapolis. The space was originally a warehouse for Ragstock, and it needed some serious changes to become the brewery Fulton needed.
Fulton’s previous brewery (and current taproom) is 6,000 square feet – in comparison, this building was a 51,000 square foot space. Fulton wanted (and needed) this new space to be transformed to an area they could brew, bottle and distribute 100% of their product. Previous to the brewery construction, they were outsourcing their brewing to Point Brewing in Stevens Point, WI.
Brewery equipment is different than anything else. We needed to figure for hangers for the glycol runs (the tools that regulate the temperature of fermentation and brine tanks), steam piping, centrifuge, boilers – the list goes on and on. All construction elements had to account for these needs. Equipment is typically a secondary element when it comes to construction, but in this case, equipment had to come first.
After Fulton Brewery took over the space in September of 2013, we were able to begin construction just months later, in November. In the fall of 2014, Fulton began brewing in their new production brewery in Northeast Minneapolis. It was the space they needed, wanted, and had dreamed of.
Successful Brewery Construction
Like any great construction story, Fulton Brewery came with a few unique challenges. Minneapolis has different regulations regarding building permits, WAC (water availability charges), SAC (sewer availability charges), as well as wastewater regulations. There were several rounds of revisions to the plan, but we became well versed in brewery construction and remained as flexible as possible.
Located in an existing building at 2540 2nd St NE, the new brewery features:
- An 80 barrel brew house
- High-speed bottling and kegging lines
- An initial capacity of 20,000 barrels of annual production
- The ability for future expansion
The added capacity from the brewery construction allowed Fulton to expand distribution beyond the Twin Cities and add seasonal and limited production beers.
The Fulton Brewery construction project was fun and off-the-original-path for Winkelman. The same building, management and commercial construction principles applied, but understanding the business of brewing was a unique experience for us.