From the time its doors opened in 2018, people knew AEGIR Brewing in Elk River was small. The space was cozy with just a 35 person capacity and a “cigar lounge” feel, as co-founder Tim Jones describes it.
Now, after a year that threatened to cripple the hospitality industry, the AEGIR footprint has more than doubled in size. Tim and Jeremy Jones, brothers and co-founders of AEGIR, took the government-mandated closure of their taproom in 2020 as an opportunity to take the plunge and move their brewery across town to 19050 Industrial Boulevard in Elk River, Minnesota. Thanks to the move, the brewery now boasts a 98-person indoor capacity, 11,000 square feet of patio space with the potential to expand into the parking lot—and a dog park to boot.
The expansion was always in the Jones brothers’ long-term plans, but the mandated shutdown and capacity limitations imposed during the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the move. Tim Jones reflects, “We couldn’t have done it, honestly, without the shutdown, because that gave us enough time to focus on it and be able to get some of the government funding that otherwise we wouldn’t have been able to qualify for. So it was a little bit of weird, perfect timing for that to happen.”
The fact that AEGIR was already brewing from the new facility help expedite things. For most breweries, moving taprooms would mean moving an entire brew system, which would put an unbearably long pause on beer production. AEGIR, fortunately, already had their entire system set up at the Industrial Boulevard location. After just nine months of operation in the Main Street location, they needed the additional space if their production were to keep up with the demands of their Elk River taproom. They moved the bulk of their brewing operations to Industrial Boulevard long before moving their taproom. In fact, they were often driving kegs across town to their former taproom space to keep the tap lines full-on busy nights.
While the new taproom is a bit off-the-beaten-path, Tim Jones is hopeful the move won’t negatively impact taproom sales. He says that the local brand loyalty combined with craft beer lovers’ willingness to drive just about anywhere to try a new brewery was already evident on opening weekend. One family at the bar had heard the news from a trip to Kansas City and drove home overnight so they could support their favorite local watering hole.
Tim Jones says they look forward to taking advantage of all the new space has to offer. The dog park, for example, was a happy addition due to the sheer surplus of space available. Jones says, “Everyone loves bringing their dogs to breweries. We have that space, and either it ends up sitting there and we have to just maintain grass for no reason, or we put a fence up and have a dog park.” He thinks the location will serve as an easy pit stop for families with dogs on their way to the cabin, too.
Two-legged patrons have plenty to look forward to as well. At the previous location, the AEGIR team was turning away private events because the configuration of their small space didn’t allow for it. If someone wanted to host a birthday party, Jones says they would have had to shut down the entire taproom. At the new space, AEGIR can section off areas for private reservations as well as take advantage of the expansive indoor and outdoor spaces for large-scale events.
For now, most of AEGIR’s events will be community-driven. Tim Jones says, “If someone brings us a good idea and they want to help us run it, we run with it. When they throw it out [there], we say, ‘Cool, that’s a passion of yours. Let’s make it happen.’” The brewery will continue to host regular weekly events such as trivia, but Jones is considering larger events such as outdoor concerts and food truck festivals.
As for beer, patrons can continue to expect much of the same offerings: six flagships, a handful of rotating seasonal options, and two to three seltzers. The gluten-reduced seltzer menu might not be widely embraced by all corners of the craft beer enthusiast market, but Jones says, “Our job is to make it fun for you to be here regardless of what you want to drink.” Perhaps it’s just that attitude that made AEGIR’s growth possible.
New Taproom Address: 19050 Industrial Blvd, Elk River, MN 55330
Hours: Mon–Thu: 3–10 pm; Fri–Sun: 11 am–11 pm