New brewery opens doors

St. Paul-based Lake Monster Brewing will host its taphouse’s grand opening Friday evening.

Lake Monster Brewings brewery and taproom brings a new brewpub experience to St. Pauls Vandalia Tower complex.

Image by Alex Tuthill-Preus

Lake Monster Brewing’s brewery and taproom brings a new brewpub experience to St. Paul’s Vandalia Tower complex.

by Chance Wellnitz

Lake Monster Brewing’s Matt Zanetti wanted a vineyard. Zanetti was born in California’s wine country, where his father managed a vineyard for years until they moved to a 75-acre farm in western Wisconsin. 
The soil there, Zanetti’s father informed his with son with regret, was not fit for good grapes.
But he could grow hops.
About four years later, Zanetti’s Lake Monster Brewing celebrates the grand opening of its taproom on Friday. Located in St. Paul’s Vandalia Tower complex, Lake Monster Brewing is right off Interstate 94 and the Green Line.
It’s also about a mile and a half away from the Minnesota United soccer stadium, opening in 2018, which Zanetti described as a “super duper high-five.”
Prior to the taproom, Lake Monster contracted all of its brewing to Sand Creek Brewing in Black River Falls, Wis. There, brewmaster Matt Lange oversaw the brewing of his recipes and got a product to market while his fiancee completed her MBA at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. 
Partnering with Sand Creek allowed Lange to stay close to his fiancee and oversee production.
A&E spoke with Zanetti about the local beer scene, the inspiration behind each Lake Monster brew and the new beers for the taproom’s grand opening.
How has the local beer scene treated you guys?
There’s a little bit of pushback because we were contract brewing, but I think because of the quality of our beer, it’s been relatively warm. There are a few local breweries that are also contract brewing, and they make great beer as well. It’s like Emeril Lagasse came over to your house and made you dinner. It’s still going to be a really [expletive] good dinner. You’re just using somebody else’s kitchen.
The Bad Weather guys, Jeff at Tin Whiskers and Matt at Bauhaus Brew [have all been] really supportive. Stupid things, man. Honestly, when we tweet out a photo or something and another brewery sends a comment back, that’s really cool. It’s a very friendly industry.
Will you have any new beers for the grand opening?
Outside of our Empty Rowboat IPA and Calhoun Claw Pilsner, we’ll have the Buddy Check Session Ale. It’s pretty hoppy with low, 4.5 percent alcohol. We’ll have The Murmur Oatmeal Milk Stout on nitro. The Last Fathom Dark Lager, which is a Munich-style dunkel, will have a little twist. Matt brews it with a little bit of Minnesota wild rice, which gives it a nice, nutty tone. And we’ll have the Untethered Brown, a kettle-soured Belgian brown ale — more tart than sour. It’s a very approachable sour.
What inspires a new Lake Monster beer?
Basically whatever you want to drink, bro. We’re really excited to be opening the taproom. It’s going to give us the opportunity to make a lot of different beers and see what people get excited about, see what they want to drink. You know, Matt and I don’t really like pumpkin beers, but people seem to [expletive] love pumpkin beers, so we might make a pumpkin beer. Not this year, but seasonally next year. We’ll see. Matt’s like, “Agh, we got to make a pumpkin beer.” But that’s what people want, man. Just make a good one.
Matt has a lot of ideas about stuff he wants to make, but we’re really looking to our beer-drinking fans, friends and loved ones [for suggestions]. Matt has what he calls his “dossier,” a book of beer recipes he’s made. Say the word, flip through the pages and you can make any of those beers. All the recipes are completely created and perfected,
so he’s ready to go. It’s about 60 beers total.
You’ve also worked with local artist Jeff Nelson. How did that come about?
Jeff and Jeremy’s wives went to high school together. [Working with Jeff] is actually how the name came to be. … I had 80 or 90 names, thinking, what’s our attitude? What’s our brand? Then Jeff just started doodling. He came up with some great artwork really quickly, and we’re just, like, “Sweet, dude. This is a great name.”
Lake Monster Brewing says something [to Minnesota]. And it’s fun, you know? We want to make really great beer and not take ourselves too seriously.
What are you most proud of with Lake Monster Brewing?
I’m proud of everybody that’s been a part of it. I’m just proud we’ve gotten to where we are.