How the Urban Growler Reflects Saint Paul’s Scene

If there’s a lesson to be learned from the Urban Growler’s second anniversary, owners Deb Loch and Jill Pavlak insist that it's the two facets that help them run a successful business: community and sleep.

For two years now, the Urban Growler Brewing Company has drawn people into an industrial neighborhood of Saint Paul. Now known as Saint Paul’s Creative Zone, the stretch of University between Raymond and Fairview has opened up to several new breweries, consulting companies and spaces for public art.

“The taproom has kind of become a community meeting place,” Loch said. “It’s amazing how many people we’ve met and become friends with, especially with a lot of the regulars. And, really, that’s just what we’ve envisioned.”

In the time since the Urban Growler has been open, it has become a sort of microcosm for the Saint Paul restaurant and beer scene; although the restaurant and taproom is great as a stand-alone, the people in the neighborhood and peers in the industry bolster the success of microbrewery. The boom of craft beer in the Twin Cities is more of a resource than a threat to the Urban Growler--Bang Brewing is literally in the backyard, Black Stack Brewing will open just down the street and one of Urban Growler's own staff members is working to open 12welve Eyes Brewing soon in Lowertown's Pioneer Endicott building. 

"We stick pretty close to home... but we've really come to depend on the community here. A few months ago, we were out of power, and there were quite a few setbacks--we lost a lot of yeast. But other breweries in the area gave us yeast, let us use refrigerators. We've come to depend a lot on our own people, and also on other people around us who help make us successful," Loch said.

And by Loch and Pavlak's definition of success, the Urban Growler is doing well. "A lot of people don't realize that we're two people who are trying to manage this as best we can," Pavlak said. "We have great comments online--we're rated 4.9 of 5 stars (on Facebook)--and it's hearing the great feedback from people that make us happy to do what we do."

The community feedback is also what's fueling the brewing company's expansion. Based on comments from visitors, bars, liquor stores and other beer-drinkers in general, the Urban Growler's next steps are to increase circulation oppotunities and pressue local government for Sunday growler sales. As more people become familiar with the Saint Paul brewery, there's been increased support for canning. However, there's no timeline in place for that yet, and the two don't want to compromise on another important lesson in entrepreneurship: sleep. 

"We love being here, and we do want to be here all of the time," Loch said. "Still, we've learned that it's important to take time off, so we're closed on Monday. We need a little bit of a break. But we're open every other day--and a lot of people don't know that we're open for lunch, so we're here during the day, too." 

Overall, the two-year milestone for the Urban Growler marks a success for Saint Paul in general. It's the first women-owned brewery in Minnesota. It's bringing attention to an area of Saint Paul that has emerged as a hub for food, art, beer and small business along MetroTransit's Green Line. And, perhaps most importantly to Loch and Pavlak, it's cultivating community and growing a following in a city of neighborhoods.

Article courtesy of Visit Saint Paul

Flight photo courtesy of Yelp