With an opening delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic and emergency orders by Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz, Greg Smedsrud has found time to put more atmosphere into the new ABC Brewery in Battle Lake.
Smedsrud and partners Justin Flatgard and Mike Risbrudt remodeled a business in Battle Lake formerly called the Oasis Bar and Grill over the winter. The three men already owned a brewery in Ashby, some 15 miles to the south in Grant County when they smelled a new opportunity coming from the busy Otter Tail lake community.
“We knew someone would open a brewery there,” Smedsrud said. Since the Ashby Brewing Company owners were all local, they decided it might as well be them.
Before the seriousness of COVID-19 was realized, Smedsrud and his partners had made plans to open in March or April.
“We did a soft opening in March and we closed the next day,” Smedsrud said.
The state of Minnesota has gradually been relaxing rules over the past few weeks after clamping down hard on businesses in March. Walz decided not to extend the stay-at-home rule last week and on May 8 many small retailers were allowed to reopen. Bars and restaurants were given June 1 as an opening date provided they meet rules for public safety.
The Battle Lake location has been open for takeout food and beer since the first of May. Come June 1 it is Smedsrud’s goal to have customers both inside and outdoors at their place on Memory Lane.
The microbrewery wants to become the entertainment hub of Battle Lake this summer.
Smedsrud loves motorcycles and the Battle Lake brewery will reflect the biker culture that has existed in the county since the early 20th century with a huge mural. In a 1911 issue of The Daily Journal, Smedsrud found an article that bragged, “Fergus Falls had taken to motorcycles like a duck takes to water.” He also found a picture of the Park Region Motorcycle Club – with 113 early motorcycles and their riders. There will be other pictures displayed at the Battle Lake location as well – including the Harley-Davidson racing team.
ABC Brewery is also planning to have live music and drive-in movies for their guests in Battle Lake as well as a weekly car show.
A wood-fired pizza stove capable of reaching 1,000 degrees and turning out pizzas in two minutes is already in operation.
“It’s the kind of pizza when you’re eating it tastes different than anything you’ve had before,” Smedsrud said.
Anchoring of the microbrewery will be the eight types of beer that will be available for customers to sample. Some of the offerings and the stories that go with them will be a “Pig Farm Porter,” “Runestone IPA,” “Kittson Kolsch,” an ale called “Thresherman’s Harvest” and a beer called “Norwegian Blonde” (which Smedsrud’s research has found is a type common in the lakes country of Minnesota).