In the Winter of 2000, co-founders William “Norm” Norman and Scott Kolby first began homebrewing together on a stove-top with a stainless pot, liquid malt extract, a few specialty grains crushed by a rolling pin, pellet hops and dry yeast. They fermented their beer in a glass carboy and then bottled their beer with a corn sugar addition, yielding about two cases of bottled, naturally carbonated homebrew. Gradually, bottles gave way to 5-gallon kegs, and liquid malt extract gave way to all-grain batches. Eventually, 7-gallon stainless fermenters replaced the carboys, and brew sessions were carried out on a half-barrel Sabco Brew Magic system instead of on a stove.
Having worked with the Red Wing Family YMCA for several years, Norm and Scott came to admire and embrace the City of Red Wing for its people, its beauty and its history. Through research at the Goodhue County Historical Society, they learned about the breweries that used to exist in Red Wing and felt that beer-making should once again be a part of the city’s fabric. They spent three years visiting and talking with professional brewers and brewery owners around the region (a camera and a written list of several questions were always along on these visits), a year writing their business plan, and a year-and-a-half raising capital and preparing the new Red Wing Brewery for opening day. Finally, on December 6, 2012, the first brewery in Red Wing to open its doors in over 60 years welcomed a thirsty public, and the city regained a lost tradition.
Since then, the current Red Wing Brewery has grown from two employees to twenty and has more than doubled its beer production and inventory capacity. The Brewery’s menu has also evolved to feature handmade pizzas that incorporate local ingredients. The development of the Brewery – from the first stove-top batch of homebrew many years ago to the first official pint served on opening day – was often arduous, but entirely worthwhile. As Norm and Scott will tell you, nothing is more satisfying than seeing folks at the Red Wing Brewery enjoying good beer, good food, and good company.