MAPLETON, N.D. - There’s one thing the owners of Icewind Brewing can attest to - Mapleton residents are thirsty.
Icewind opened quietly on June 2. In the weeks since, the small craft brewery - one of the newest in the Fargo-Moorhead area - has seen a few beer varieties guzzled down faster than they could be replaced.
“We just opened the door. We were hoping a few people would show up. But half of the city of Mapleton showed up on our first day. The community out here, the community has just been supporting us. They’ve just been waiting for us to open,” co-owner Rick Brandvold said Monday, June 22.
“We already have three beers we already ran out of,” co-owner Scott Diamond added.
For example, the partners brewed a lime goze (pronounced Go-zuh) nicknamed the “Mapleton Margarita.”
“Boy, the people went crazy for that,” drinking the kegs dry, Diamond said.
Never fear. There are more tastes to be had for the adventurous.
There’s at least a half dozen styles of beer on tap and another on the way.
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Brandvold and a third partner, Tyler Mangin, are Icewind’s chief brewers.
“I would say we’re kind of bringing back the popular styles,” Brandvold said, including lager, stout, India pale ale, porter, a saison, and a Hefeweizen.
“You gotta make some beers that people want to drink, you know, the popular ones. Sometimes it’s all people know,” Brandvold said. “We’re adding some of those classic styles, like people might not be familiar with.
“One of those that were popular was a saison, you know, which is just a perfect summer beer,” Brandvold said. “We had a German Hefewizen, which is gone already. That’s a classic wheat beer.”
Fermenting now is a Belgian witbier, a wheat beer similar to a Hefeweizen.
Brandvold was a home brewer for 18 years. He had been working as an area manager for Papa Murphy’s, but developed a thirst for owning his own business.
“It’s just one of those things where you can only take a hobby so far, I guess, before you have to somehow quit spending all that money on a hobby,” Brandvold said.
Diamond is an attorney and Mangin is an engineer and manufacturing services coordinator for Marvin Windows and Doors.
According to the Brewers Association, a not-for-profit trade association, more than 8,000 breweries were operating in the United States during 2019, though a competitive market was expected to contribute to about 300 closures.
The association estimates that craft brewers were responsible for helping to create 550,000 full-time equivalent positions in 2019, up 11% from 2017. About 150,000 of those jobs were at breweries and brewpubs.
The group estimated that small and independent brewers accounted for more than $79 billion in economic activity in the U.S. in 2018, up 4% from 2017.
Icewind opened in the building where Drumconrath Brewing got its start at 349 Knutson St. on the southern edge of Mapleton, just north of Interstate 94.
(Drumconrath moved earlier to downtown Fargo, settling in the former Drekker Brewing brewpub.)
Icewind's partners bought much of their equipment from Drumconrath's owner Sam Corr in mid-January. They have three 7-barrel fermentation tanks and two 2-barrel tanks for small batches. Each barrel is 31 gallons of beer.
Icewind cans three styles of beer, but they're perhaps 12 to 18 months from starting to distribute around the region, Diamond said.
A pint of beer is $6 to $7. A half pint is $4 to $5. And a flight of four is $7.
The taproom has a fire code capacity of 49 people, dialed back to 75% of that due to state COVID-19 restrictions. But there’s also a large patio outside to repair to in good weather.
Mangin says watching people at the taproom enjoy the beer he makes is a charge.
“Taprooms are kind of fun. People come here and they’re already pretty relaxed. They just want to have a beer and relax,” Mangin said.
“Interacting with all the cool people. You get all walks of life out here. … The age range is across the board,” Brandvold said.
Icewind’s grand opening celebration is now planned for July 30-31 and Aug. 1.
The taphouse is open Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday 4 to 10 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 2 to 11 p.m.; Sunday, 2 to 8 p.m. It is closed Mondays.