HeadFlyer Brewing showcases its founders’ home-brewed recipes, style
It’s hard to understand when Amy and Neil Miller had the time to turn a passion for brewing beer into a business.
The Eden Prairie residents are behind the newly opened HeadFlyer Brewing in the Beltrami neighborhood of Northeast Minneapolis. The taproom and brewery got its name from a tiny lake in northern Wisconsin that the Millers drive by on the way to their family’s cabin.
“The name has come to mean to take a risk, to take an adventure, to do something outside of your comfort zone, to do something you wouldn’t normally do day-to-day,” Amy said. “It ended up suiting us really well because we have two jobs, we have three kids and we run a brewery. We’re taking a little bit of a risk.”
HeadFlyer combines Amy’s dream of opening a small business, something she got from her own family of small business owners, and Neil’s avocation in homebrewing, something he’s done for 10 years.
Despite never having brewed on a commercial system outside of training, Neil recently launched the brewery with eight of his own recipes with the capacity for five more. His American-style brews include an amber ale, a pale ale, a variety of IPAs and a vanilla porter, all recipes he’s developed from his experience brewing on an electric setup in his garage.
“Everyone said he’ll dump his first batch. People rave about his first batch,” Amy said. “He will never give up creative control… because that’s what he’s really passionate about and that’s what he loves doing.”
The two expect to brew about 2,000 barrels in their first full year, about half of what their 15-barrel system can churn out, Neil said. Eventually HeadFlyer will distribute to restaurants and can its brews. In the meantime, Neil has an experimental lab where he can craft his next recipes. It resembles a mad science lab given HeadFlyer’s stone-clad brewery space, and it doesn’t help that a chemist friend gave him a lab coat to match.
“I make beer that people like to drink, so those are the recipes I go for,” he said.
In the front, the approximately 9,000-square-foot brewery has a 120-seat taproom designed by Minneapolis-based Christian Dean Architecture. There are plenty of artistic touches, from the tile work and neon signs — including one of a moose in a striking white — to original graphic work from St. Paul-based Dusty Signs featuring hops, bikes and woodsy creatures, along with Minneapolis icons like the Foshay Tower.
“We wanted to encompass all those things, a really Minnesota feel, Minneapolis feel,” she said.
HeadFlyer, located in the newly renovation, four-story Miller Textile Building, also has a patio that seats about 30. For food, Amy said they’re looking to host food trucks, pizza trailers or pop-ups that don’t require a kitchen. There’s one commercial space left on the building’s main level that could host a restaurant.
“It’s very family, dog, everyone friendly. It’s just a place we want everyone to come and feel welcome. That was really our goal,” she said. “Hopefully the experience of this taproom will drive people in addition to the beer.”
Ackerberg Group, the Minneapolis firm behind the building’s renovation, has garnered several tenants, including the recently opened escape room game Mission Manor and frame firm Nash Frame Design. Stahl Construction occupies the second floor of the warehouse complex, which is comprised of several now-contiguous buildings.
HeadFlyer is now open at 861 E. Hennepin Ave. from 3 p.m.– 10 p.m. on Wednesday and Thursday, 1 p.m.– 11 p.m. on Friday, 11 a.m.–11 p.m. on Saturday and 11 a.m.–8 p.m. on Sunday. It’s closed Monday and Tuesday.
For the Millers, it’s an exciting time to join the family of craft breweries in Northeast Minneapolis.
“It’s about converting people to craft beer and getting them to continue to drink craft beer. And really, we can do that as a team,” Neil said.