MINNETONKA — It may be called Unmapped Brewing Co., but many people are easily managing to find their way to this impressive neighborhood gathering spot for a variety of reasons.
The welcoming venue sports a number of unique Belgian and stateside ales, but its casual atmosphere draws customers and visitors from all walks.
“There is such a big varying in demographics; family, older folks, younger folks, and you can bring in your dogs,” said Rachel Hargrove, who recently visited Unmapped with her husband Joel Hargrove and the couple’s two lemon beagles, Mara and Lady.
“It’s very close for us and low key,” Rachel Hargrove added. “You don’t have to dress up and the staff is great.”
“This is a great community spot,” said Joel Hargrove. “It’s good socialization for us and for the dogs. We love it here.”
Those comments are music to the ears of owners JD and Megan Park, who combined their business expertise and beer-making passion into this popular craft beer enterprise.
Brewing at the site at the corner of Eden Prairie Road and Excelsior Boulevard in the Glen Lake neighborhood of Minnetonka began in mid-2017. It could have instead been a bakery.
“Originally, Megan was interested in cakes and people making their own cakes,” JD said with a laugh. “She will be the first to tell you that she is more conservative minded in taking a risk business-wise.”
Eventually, the passion and excitement for beer making prevailed.
“Way back in college, when I met Megan, we always dreamed of starting our own business together,” said JD, a South Carolina native. “I was passionate about making beer; just really interested in the industry. That dream to open our own business and the passion about beer ultimately led to Unmapped.”
Megan, a Minnetonka native, attended the University of South Carolina and attained a double major in international business and accounting, along with a Chinese minor.
“That’s pretty impressive compared to my choral music degree” from Winthrop University in Rock Hill, S.C., JD said followed by a laugh.
The couple met through some friends and eventually married in 2011. They moved to this area to follow Megan’s employment with Cargill.
JD had been home brewing since their marriage and as the craft brewing industry kept growing, so did JD’s passion for opening a brewing company.
“I enjoy the science and artistry behind it; the fun of the taproom scene,” he said.
Derek Allmendinger, the head brewer, helped with the brewhouse build and “has had a hand in every beer we’ve brewed,” JD said.
Allmendinger is joined in the brewhouse by brewers Tuck Carruthers and Ken Fischer.
About two months after the brewery opened, there was so much to be done at the brewery that Megan left her Cargill position, JD said. The couple, in their early 30s, also has two children, Amelie, 3, and Levi, one month.
“What we wanted here was a place that had good beer and a great neighborhood feel,” JD said, adding that Unmapped does not sell food but people may bring in food and are encouraged to utilize nearby restaurants.
The brewery always has at least four Belgian beers on tap and has IPAs.
“We mix our beers up with sour lines, stouts, pilsners and other lagers,” JD said. “We stand by the quality of our beer, and our variety as well.”
Available recently were beers titled: Disorientation, No Trace, Saison Amelie, Purgatory Pils and Mind the Map.
A compass and trees are on the Unmapped logo to symbolize the outdoors. JD said his family and the majority of workers at the business are outdoor enthusiasts.
“Being outside and active is something we are passionate about,” he said. “It’s kind of our mindset; kind of the mindset of most people in Minnesota I think.”
The Unmapped name was selected “because it challenges you to do something you haven’t done before; to try something new; something unmapped to you,” JD said. “It might be going on a trip or trying a new beer. Be explorative.”
The brewing company site is also open to children and well-behaving dogs. There are plenty of games and an ample amount of seating for cozy or group gatherings.
The facility also has fundraising pint nights on Wednesdays for nonprofits, acoustic night several Tuesdays a month for local musicians, and a number of workshop opportunities.
“We have plenty of activities, as well as plenty of non-alcoholic beverages to help attract families,” JD said. “We want people to enjoy it here.”
That’s exactly the feeling Tara Dahlstrom, 27, and her husband Adam have about the business.
“We come here about once a month because it’s close to our house and we like the atmosphere,” Tara said while playing a game of table shuffleboard. “It’s really fun, low key and the beer is good.”
“I can meet friends here or just come here alone and I always feel welcome and comfortable,” said Jim Sanders of Plymouth. “It’s relaxing and fun.”
The facility produced about 1,000 barrels of beer last year and is hoping to up that to 1,500 this year, Park said.
Beer in containers is available at the brewery and a number of retail places in the Twin Cities area. Information about Unmapped beer availability tap and retail sites, and information about food trucks, events and other activities at the brewing site is available at unmappedbrewing.com.
“I come here because of the good beer and good conversation,” Terry Beachey of Excelsior said while recently sharing a table and discussion with Ben Louwagie of Plymouth at Unmapped.
“There’s just good people here and it’s out of the way,” Louwagie added. “It’s just a good place to be.”