A brewery backed by a cause has made vibrant Lowertown its home. The space on 5th Street that once was Birch’s Lowertown is now the home of MetroNOME Brewery, which opened on February 11, 2022, with a mission to help underprivileged kids receive access to music education.
Co-founders of MetroNOME Brewery, Matt Engstrom and Bill Eddins met while coaching youth baseball, and the two quickly connected over a mutual love of homebrewing. Their hobby-in-common continued to evolve until they decided to make their shared interest into a business.
“Our initial plan was to develop our own recipes and do contract brewing,” says Engstrom.
However, Eddins and Engstrom were compelled to shift their plan when they caught wind that the location on 5th Street was up for grabs. In spring 2021, the co-founders made Lowertown home of MetroNOME Brewery.Eddins, a pianist and conductor, and Engstrom, a life-long musician, incorporated their passion for music into their business model in order to make a positive impact on the community.
MetroNOME Brewery is giving a portion of their proceeds to fund music lessons and music education for underprivileged youth in the area—a mission which is referenced in the brewery’s name: “Nurture Outstanding Music Education” (NOME).
The catalyst for how the brewery’s social mission came to fruition was the widespread protests and unrest following the murder of George Floyd.
“We decided that what we really wanted to do is create a brewery that followed the saying, ‘leave the world a better place than when you came into it,’” explains Engstrom.
“Not only does our mission make us feel like we’re making a positive difference, but it helps us stand out,” says Engstrom proudly. “It allows us to stand out from a crowded crowd. Investors were interested in us because of our mission, not just because we’re another brewery.”
MetroNOME plans on providing scholarships through existing music education programs like the Saint Paul Conservatory for Performing Arts and School of Rock. They’re also hoping to provide instrument rentals for kids that wouldn’t be able to afford it without assistance.
Additionally, according to Engstrom, a large part of MetroNOME’s philanthropic efforts will be accomplished within the brewery itself:
“Along with the taproom and brewery upstairs, we’ve got a separate customer area downstairs, but we’re not open there yet. It’ll be for live music,” describes Engstrom. “We’re hoping it’ll be a spot to give college students real-world performance experience or for recitals—just live music in general. Eventually, we’ll be able to live-stream these performances.”
The entire MetroNOME space is approximately 6,000-square-feet, equipped with a spacious taproom and 10-barrel brewing system. Their tap list is diverse, with an EPA, blonde ale, doppelbock, and a Mexican-style lager in the mix.
The brewing operation is run by Kevin Welch. Welch has vast experience in the industry as a founder of Boom Island Brewing Company and previous director of brewing at Lost Coast Brewing in Eureka, California.
For non-beer drinkers, MetroNOME will serve a seltzer on tap as well as Minnesota-made soda and kombucha. Eventually, they plan on working with ABV Technology so they can offer non-alcoholic beer as well.
“Plenty of folks are sober, whether it’s just for a month or they simply don’t drink,” says Engstrom. “Plus, not everybody likes beer… and we’ve got to tend to that. We want MetroNOME to be a place for everyone to spend time.”
MetroNOME has distributed to Orchestra Hall and has plans to distribute to local businesses like CHS Field and Big River Pizza in the near future.
Although MetroNOME Brewery is already alive with the sound of music, they plan on having an official grand opening in late June of 2022. Until then, MetroNOME beer can be enjoyed in the taproom and in Crowlers for takeout.
Brewer: Kevin Welch
Beer: Acoustic EPA, Enigma Double Brown, Two-Pac West Coast IPA, Squeeze Play Hazy IPA, Sweet Georgia Brown Pastry Stout, Accidental Blonde Ale, Jam Session Sour, Melodious Monk Belgian Quad, Mexican Style Lager, Bach’s Bock Doppelbock
Address: 289 5th Street East, St. Paul, MN 55101
Hours: Mon–Thu: 4–10 pm; Fri–Sat: Noon–10 pm; Sun: Noon–8 pm