For Travis Bechthold, it all started with a $150 beer kit from his wife Brittney for his birthday. Fast forward over 10 years and the Bechtholds are now part of the group behind Mana Brewing Co, a brewpub in downtown Shakopee that opened on July 11.
“[Brittney] jokes that buying the kit was a mistake. When I pick up a hobby, I like to go full force. It led to homebrewing equipment that took up a lot of our garage,” says Bechthold. “I don’t think she thought it would explode like that, and now we’ve made a little bit of a career from it.”
As an avid homebrewer, the idea of opening a brewery came naturally in 2018 when Bechthold wanted to do something in addition to his career in IT.
“After sitting for 10 hours a day, I knew that I wanted to do something to move around,” says Bechthold, a Prior Lake resident. Mana’s other co-owners are James Lee, also a Prior Lake resident, and Bob Miller from Monticello.
The owners decided to pursue opening a brewpub instead of a production brewery, in order to meet the legal requirements to serve food and have a full bar with cocktails. Mana’s menu features stone fired pizza and shareables like pretzels and chips and salsa.
“Why do people leave a brewery? They either don’t like beer or they’re hungry,” Bechthold says, “And beer and pizza are a good combination.”
Mana Brewing currently has 8 beers on tap. With 16 total taps, the owners plan to increase the number of beers to around 12 in the future. With a 3.5 barrel system, Bechthold says he’ll have to brew more often, but can offer a greater variety of beers.
For dark beer fans looking for something lighter in the summer, the tropical stout has a lighter body with dark fruit and caramel undertones. On the cocktail menu designed by Miller, who has been a bartender for over 10 years, is the “Sugar Cookie,” with Screwball peanut butter whiskey and Bailey’s Irish cream. There’s also a seltzer with rotating flavors.
The owners had originally planned their brewpub for Prior Lake, but plans fell through right before the pandemic. Once restrictions eased up, Bechthold and his partners began working on their brewpub plans again.
As they searched for a new location in April 2021, the nearly 5,000 square foot ground floor of the new Deco apartment building (the former city hall site) in downtown Shakopee was a perfect fit with its tall ceilings, large windows, and industrial feel.
With the addition of Mana Brewing, Shakopee is becoming a destination for craft beer in the south metro with its two other breweries: Shakopee Brewhall and Badger Hill Brewery. Downtown Shakopee is also the location for TAP 2022, an inaugural beer tasting and innovation event that will be held on September 10. Breweries will offer flagship beers and limited edition innovative beers made for the event.
An interior designer, Brittney Bechthold kept the exposed concrete and overhead pipes to create an “industrial chic” look. She says the bright space allowed her to use a bold deep forest green for the walls, and incorporate warmth in the details with lighter pink wallpaper for a more residential feel. The wood slats on the wall and green metal panels on the front of the bar are a subtle nod to the nearby railroad tracks. Adults and kids can play pinball or grab a board game. An outdoor patio will open this fall or next spring.
“It’s been a lot of hard work and we’ve had great support,” she says.”Finally, we’re seeing people in the space and drinking our beer.”
How did they come up with the name for the brewery? The answer is three fold.
The Bechtholds explained: Mana is a source of food in the bible, an important concept in Māori an indigenous Polynesian people they learned about on a vacation in New Zealand, and in video gaming what a character needs to be able to use special abilities. But it’s the Māori concept of mana as an energizing light that has resonated with them the most.
“Beer and a place like this has the power to bring people together. There’s also a sense of community with all of the businesses here,” he says.
To further celebrate its opening, Mana Brewing will host its first block party on August 13 with Babes. Holmes Street will be closed all day for food trucks and music.
Head Brewer: Travis Bechthold
Beers: Cream ale, hefeweizen, Belgian saison, American IPA, amber ale, tropical stout
Address: 129 Holmes Street S., Suite 100 Shakopee, MN 55379
Hours: Mon-Thr: 2-10 pm; Fri-Sat: 11 am to 12am; Sun: 11 am to 10 pm
Food: Stone-fired pizza, soft pretzels, chips and salsa, chips and queso