Flatland Brewery serves up variety of beers
Frank Clemens started out brewing from his house as a personal hobby, but that hobby is now professional.
Flatland Brewery opened July 21 at 3140 Bluestem Drive, and taking those brews from Clemens' basement to a business has proved to be a good decision thus far.
"We've had a really good month. We've had a really good response from the community and people coming in with very good reviews on our beer," said Clemens, who is the head brewer and president of Flatland. "From the feedback and monetary feedback, people are enjoying the beer."
Flatland is currently open 4 to 11 p.m. on Thursdays, 4 p.m. to midnight on Fridays and 1 p.m. to midnight on Saturdays, though Clemens hopes to expand those hours soon.
"People were really anxious to get something over here," Clemens said. "We made it pretty easy when it came to looking at the demand. We knew a lot of people who were very excited to have something."
Clemens, who lives in Fargo, said creating a brewery in West Fargo was an easy decision. He heard from many of his West Fargo friends that they would drive 30 minutes or more for a brewery and those people dreaded that hassle.
"They said they like going to breweries but don't like driving so far," Clemens said. "It's a significant one-way drive. People were just looking for a brewery type of experience closer to home. As we were talking about it, (Flatland's location) made sense as a larger demand. It just made sense from a business perspective."
Clemens admitted he wasn't expecting as good of a location in the city but was pretty happy when he was offered it.
"There's a lot of people living here, and it's a fast-growing part of (town)," Clemens said. "That's a great place to have a new business. I don't foresee this area slowing down anytime soon. I only see it continuing to grow."
Clemens started brewing at home with his friend Aaron Chapman about 10 years ago and had loved crafting beer and coming up with new styles and recipes. But he never seriously expected to start something as substantial as a business—he even thought about it years ago but didn't have the funds at the time.
"My first thought from my first batch was that this was something amazing to do," Clemens said. "We started brewing new beers and started experimenting with new styles and new hops, anything we could think to do."
Clemens finally got those funds after he was brewing with Chris Markwardt, another friend of Clemens. After Clemens had joked about opening a brewery, Markwardt's father became seriously interested and offered start-up funds.
Now, Chapman is the secretary and treasurer and Markwardt and his friend Jeff Thompson are managing members of Flatland.
"It's just a bunch of guys from the area with a love of beer and passion of brewing on a home brew level," Clemens said. "We had a good response from our friends and family for our brew."
As for the beer, Clemens said he wants to emphasize the varieties and experimenting for every season, especially after Flatland is more established.
If there's any sure sign of success, Clemens said Flatland taped out of IPA, though the Irish Red Ale is also popular and the Raspberry Blonde has been Flatland's best seller.
Though sticking to certain brews has been an adjustment for Clemens, he said it's been a new challenge he's enjoyed tackling.
He obviously wanted Flatland to start well, but he was nervous if it would catch on. However, he's been pleased with the result.
"You hope it goes well, but you never know," Clemens said. "l would say it's been overwhelming the response and how things have been going with people coming in. We've done well and we've meant to do well, but you never know if you're going to hit the first time. It has gone smooth here."