What started as a hobby in the back shed of the family business has transformed into a full-fledged brewing operation. Back Shed Brewing Company opened August 21, 2021, in what used to be the Crafts Direct outlet store in Waite Park, Minnesota.
Brothers Scott and Jason Schlecht had just what they needed to start their own brewery: a shed, a family business, a love for craft beer, and a homebrewing pal named Chris Simonsen. Part owner of Back Shed Brewing Company, Scott Schlecht reminisces about how the brewery came to be and says, “Jason and I have traveled a lot together for the family business, and wherever we’d go, we were always on a mission to find good beer. After going to so many cool breweries with great beer, we realized we wanted to do something like that for Waite Park.”
The family business, Crafts Direct, has been owned by the Schlechts since the 1990s. In addition to the main craft store, they also own the outlet craft store and the shed behind it, which is where the first inkling of the brewery appeared.
About two years ago, the Schlechts bought a ½ barrel pilot system and put it in that very shed. This is where family friend and avid homebrewer, Chris Simonsen came into the Back Shed Brewing picture.
“Chris has nearly 15 years of homebrewing experience,” says Schlecht. “He was willing to brew on the pilot system and see where this adventure would take us!”
In June 2020, the adventure grew as they expanded their pilot brewing setup. They bought a 10-barrel system and moved their brewery from the shed into what used to be the outlet store. The brewing space is approximately 1,000-square-feet.
“We always had the outlet store space, but we wanted to do something different than crafts. So, this was the perfect opportunity!” Schlecht says.
The Schlechts and Simonsen opened with seven beers and a hard seltzer on tap. In addition to their 10-barrel batches, they’ll be brewing something called the “Project 624” that will come from the original ½ barrel pilot system. “Project 624” will be an experimental beer that rotates weekly.
“On the shed behind the craft store, there’s the number ‘624,’’ explains Schlecht. “So, when Chris was brewing back there, he’d say, ‘I’m going to project 624” when he was going to brew.”
Back Shed Brewing Company will also be equipped with a 2,200-square-foot-patio, a 7,500-square-foot taproom, and a 2,500-square-foot event space.
“With the name Back Shed we want the space to have a rustic feel with barn wood-looking pieces,” Schlecht describes. “Our cooler is actually in the middle of the room and looks like a shed.”
There are rustic, local, and family ties sprinkled throughout the design of the taproom. The shed-turned cooler has tin on the roof that came from Simonsen’s family farm. The bar is accented with tin that came from the Schlecht’s Mother’s feedlot in North Dakota. A large barn door separates the taproom from the event space and a large piece of the old sawmill with Back Shed’s logo burned into it will hang on the taproom wall.
“I want people to feel like they can do what they want here. We’re easily located, there’s easy parking, and we’ll have cool events.” Schlecht shares about the space and location.
“We’re just a family-run place excited to be a part of the brewing community in St. Cloud,” shares Schlecht excitedly. “We’re looking forward to being a fun and enjoyable space for folks in the area!”
Brewer: Chris Simonsen
Beer: Blonde, James Blonde Ale; Cranky Man Cranberry Mango Blonde Ale, Pickin’ Daisies IPA, Stompin’ Daisies IPA, Double Cross American Porter, La Di Da Di Raspberry Gose, La Di Da Di Strawberry Pineapple Gose, Project 624 (Rotating)
Address: 624 Sundial Drive Waite Park, MN 56387
Hours: Wed–Thu: 3–10 pm; Fri: 12–10 pm; Sat: 11 am–10 pm; Sun: 12–6 pm