“It’s been a great first year,” says Jeff Moriarty, co-owner of Tin Whiskers in St. Paul. No doubt St. Paul residents agree, as the scientifically themed brewery continues to grow alongside the city’s brew scene.
As Tin Whiskers hits the milestone of their first year in business, they plan to celebrate the best way they know how: beers and robots. First, they will hit several stops around the metro for the release of Watt’s Wheat Wine, followed by a taproom celebration with tours, food, a Lego mural, and a robotics demonstration. Watt’s debuted at Winterfest and is comparable to a barley wine, but with notes of wheat that compare to their popular to Wheatstone Bridge American ale, but with added honey, chamomile, peppercorn, orange peel, and coriander. “It has a lot going on,” Moriarty says, and the smoothness makes the high ABV beer “amazingly dangerous.” They’ll give away pint glasses with a binary code to be deciphered for a free beer at the anniversary events as well.
When the brewery first opened they had just 13 draft accounts. One year later, that number is closer to 50 and they’ve also been selling 22 oz. bottles in 65 liquor stores, hitting markets as far away as Forrest Lake, Shakopee, and Maple Grove.
“We’ve exceeded all of our expectations of what we’d do the first year,” Moriarty says, and they plan to replace three 15bbl fermenters with 30bbl tanks in July, increasing their overall production capacity by 60%. The growth, though, is still carefully controlled. After four years of raising capital and planning the business, Tin Whiskers has a conservative approach. “Our growth has been organic, controlled growth,” Moriarty explains, “Nothing crazy.” Summer, he notes, is a busy season and the tanks will be installed as soon as work on the Rossmor building they call home is completed. When construction is finished and the scaffolding that blocks their sidewalk is removed, they will take out the front bay windows to get the new tanks inside. When that is done, they will also replace some windows with a garage door that can be opened to bring outside air in. Once the new tanks are installed, Tin Whiskers will also utilize their pilot system more frequently for one-offs, both in-house and with outside accounts including Rival House and Chatterbox.
As Tin Whiskers looks further ahead, there are larger ideas: the addition of 6-packs and, perhaps, a second expansion to an offsite location. For now, though, they celebrate their success with an anniversary and Watt’s Wheat Wine. The ownership still has day jobs to attend to while their brewery establishes itself, and Moriarty balances time between Tin Whiskers, his engineering work, and raising his son who, like Tin Whiskers, is about to turn one year old.