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Tin Whiskers Brewing "electrifies" downtown St. Paul

Photo by Kyle Mianulli

Enjoying the brew at Tin Whiskers, photo by Kyle Mianulli

Craft brewing continues its march into St. Paul. Tin Whiskers Brewing Company opened its doors to the public last Friday. Located on the ground floor of the Rossmor Building in Lowertown, Tin Whiskers is the first brewery taproom to open in St. Paul’s urban core.

“You have this really cool historic warehouse building with this amazing space—you have artists, you have great food, you have everything you need for a great craft brewing experience,” says Jeff Moriarty, president and one of Tin Whiskers’ three founders. Restaurants like Keys Café, Sawatdee and Black Sheep Coal Fired Pizza are also housed in the Rossmor.

Moriarty is one of Tin Whiskers’ three former electrical engineers turned craft brewers. He met George Kellerman, who heads branding efforts, and Jake Johnson, the head brewer, at the school of Electrical Engineering at the University of Minnesota.

That common bond is evident throughout their branding and operations. In the electrical engineering world, the term "tin whisker" refers to a soldering error that leads to a short circuit on a printed circuit board. In the craft beer realm, it now stands for technically excellent beer, brewed with an attention to detail and process one would expect from a group of engineers.

They aren’t bashful about the nerd-factor. Everything from their robot logo, to beer names like Flipswitch IPA and Beta Batch stout evoke the trio’s engineering background, which Moriarty says partly drives their affection for beer.  

“Of course, being engineers, we like drinking beer—it makes us a wee-bit more social,” he says with a laugh.

It’s been a long trip from engineering school to taproom opening. Moriarty and Johnson first started homebrewing in 2006. From Johnson’s mother’s kitchen to Moriarty’s basement, they honed their craft, kept detailed brew logs and sought to perfect the science behind the brew.

They hold an open source policy when it comes to recipes and operations. They are happy to share, within reason, what they’ve learned along the way with others thinking of starting up their own operation.

When it came time for the big move from home brewer to destination brewery, Moriarty says they knew their location would have to be in St. Paul or Roseville to keep the water supply consistent.

“The biggest local component that goes into any brew is local water,” Moriarty says. “We kinda believed in that terroir of the water, so to speak.”

The brewery currently has the equipment to pump out about 1,700 barrels of beer a year. This is just phase one, though, says Moriarty. His vision is to eventually be producing upwards of 20,000 barrels a year through a satellite production brewery in the city.

Right now they are serving up both a carbonated and nitro version of their Beta Batch stout, Wheatstone Bridge (an American style wheat beer) and Flip Switch IPA. All three beers are labeled “Beta” versions, which is engineer-speak for initial batches subject to tweaks and changes.

Their full lineup of rotating beers, including an amber ale and pumpkin ale, will be available at the official Grand Opening the first week in June..

The taproom and brewery is currently open to the public Wednesdays and Thursdays 4:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m., Fridays 3:00pm to 11:00 p.m. and Saturdays from noon to 11:00 p.m.

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