L-R: North 20 co-founders Jordan, Christian, and David Schmitz • Photo by James Figy

North 20 Brewing, which opened in July 2022, is a family business in every sense. Brothers Christian and Jordan Schmitz, who serve as brewers, co-founded the brewery with their dad, David. But the long-term project relied on help from the entire family, including design input and other critical advice from their mother, Robin.

The fact that Christian and Jordan would collaborate on a business is not surprising. Even as kids, the brothers already enjoyed working together.

Growing up in Rosemount, the pair would help with home projects, which often entailed multiple trips to the local ACE Hardware. David remembers them jokingly referring to this as “goin’ to town,” as if they needed to hitch up a horse and buggy to make the long journey.

Then, during summer, their grandfather would drive up on his John Deere tractor and ask them to help mow the family’s 20-acre piece of land just up the road. Grandpa always called it “the north 20.”

Photo by James Figy

Christian and Jordan shared many interests as they got older. They both studied economics at St. Olaf College, and both worked in banking at Wells Fargo before wanting a career they would be more passionate about.

A fateful moment occurred in 2015 when the family bought David a 1-gallon homebrewing kit for Christmas. “I’m not sure if that was a kit for me or for them,” David says. “But it worked.”

Christian and Jordan’s homebrewing interests soon outgrew their homes, and they floated the idea of using “the north 20” for a brewery. David had bought the land from a neighbor in 2004 with the goals of preservation and possibly using a small portion for projects with his and Robin’s four children. A short distance from the road, the property descends into a tree-lined valley, which offers stunning views year-round.

“I always enjoyed standing out here and looking. It’s just so peaceful,” David says. “So the idea of sharing it with the community and building something that the community could use, that’s where the brewery kind of came into play.”

The Schmitzes wanted their prospective brewery to be as family-friendly as possible. Because their land is zoned for agriculture, the family needed a conditional use permit. This limited the ability to bring food trucks to the site on a regular basis, so they decided to include a compact kitchen to serve bar food.

Photo by James Figy

Despite delays due to the pandemic and supply chain chaos, the opening grew nearer. David planned to continue working in education full-time, but for Christian and Jordan, North 20 would become their sole job.

To prepare to run a brewery, the brothers decided to grow their skill sets by attending the Brewing and Beer Stewardship Technology program at Dakota County Technical College. The program connected them with others in the brewing community. They interned at 56 Brewing with Nick Chute, now head brewer at Elm Creek Brewing Co., and bounced ideas off peers in their cohort, such as Steve Long of 3rd Act Brewery in Woodbury.

Long helped with the selection of their brewhouse equipment, a 10-barrel direct-fire system, with four fermentors and one brite tank from ABE Equipment. “We originally looked at doing a smaller five-barrel system, but everyone kept saying to go bigger,” Christian says. “[…] Steve went with that one, and he liked it. That’s the reason we went with ABE.”

North 20 Brewing team • Photo by James Figy

North 20 Brewing team • Photo by James Figy

North 20’s accessible lineup features many recipes that the brothers began honing during their homebrewing days. “Now that we have the menu full, we will probably be trying to start branching out to do a variety of different things, like sours or fruited ales,” Jordan says.

Like the brewery’s name, North 20’s beer names reference family sayings, such as the Goin’ to Town Cream Ale. One that has become poignant is Mama’s Kölsch, which was Robin’s favorite beer.

Robin was instrumental in the design of the building, a custom structure resembling a barn with wide garage doors and windows to highlight the view. She helped plan the decor inside, including exposed wood walls that continue the rural theme. Instead of hastily constructing a pole barn kit, she and the family wanted to do right by their neighbors in Rosemount, David remembers.

On August 23, Robin died unexpectedly. Some days, running the brewery feels like continuing her legacy, but often, it’s painful to spend time in the building when her fingerprints are everywhere. “The wound is still fresh, but […] she was very important to this whole thing,” David says.

While the Schmitz family intended to give something to the city of Rosemount, they believe they’ve received much more in the wake of losing Robin. “The outpouring we’ve had from the community has just been very nice,” David says. “It’s been a very hard time for us, but they’ve helped us.”

Photo by James Figy

Brewers: Christian and Jordan Schmitz

Beers: Mama’s Kölsch, Hay Bale hazy IPA, Goin’ to Town cream ale, Moo Moo Magic chocolate milk stout, What the Hop!? double IPA, Hilltop hefeweizen, Oktoberfest Märzen-style lager, and North 20 hard seltzer with different flavor options

Food: Brats, pretzels, fries, and other standard bar fare from an on-site kitchen

Address: 12266 Bacardi Ave. W, Rosemount, MN 55068

Hours: Mon–Thurs: 4–9 pm; Fri: 4–10 pm; Sat: 11 am–10 pm; and Sun: 11 am–9 pm

Connect: Website, Facebook, Instagram