by Damian Goebel
First entering Wandering Leaf Brewing Company, 2463 West 7th St., you might think you mistakenly walked into a greenhouse rather than a brewhouse.
“I love plants,” said Matt Holton, co-owner of the brewery. “We have 300 square feet of planters, not including the living wall.”
Holton, who has a horticulture degree from the University of Minnesota and worked in the wine industry for several years, said he wanted to “bring in the horticulture vibe” to the space.
Holton, along with his co-owner Rob Reisdorf, opened the brewery on April 27 in the former Family Dollar site in Sibley Plaza. They landed on West 7th as their new home after hearing the vision their landlord, Paster Properties, had for the shopping center, which included restaurants on either side of their brewery and building out a patio space (slated to be finished in mid-June) that can be shared with a future tenant for events. They also realized the South Highland area of West 7th was a prime place for a destination brewery.
“It’s missing a bar or brewery near here,” said Reisdorf. “Breweries are kind of like our bars,” he added when comparing the Twin Cities to other metro area bar scenes.
“But it’s also like a coffee shop,” said Holton. “You can bring your kids here and not worry about people slamming drinks.”
The pair said that they really wanted to create a space for the community to enjoy. This includes their beer selection, which they said will have a rotating mix of two hoppy beers, two lighter beers, two darker beers and two that are “funky” on their 16 taps.
“We don’t have a preference over what style of beer we brew,” said Holton. “We want to make a place for the community to come.”
Holton said that, while he started homebrewing 13 years ago, the seeds of the idea for opening a brewery started during the early days of the pandemic, when he and Reisdorf would spend every weekend brewing beer together. Eventually, he said, they reached the state mandated limit of 200 gallons per year. Even then, starting their own brewing business seemed out of the question.
“We really tried to talk ourselves out of it,’ Holton said. The pair made a business plan, which Reisdorf said his wife Amy “polished” for them, and talked it over with more than a dozen breweries in the metro before realizing their plan could work.
Running their operation quickly became a family affair. The brewery is co-owned by Holton, Reisdorf and their wives, Jennifer Holton, who handles the financials, and Amy Reisdorf, who has been working on their marketing. Holton also said his younger brother handles a lot of their social media.
The rest of the core team is rounded out by Jen Hall, their Director of Hospitality. “We wouldn’t have opened in April without her,” said Reisdorf.
Even with their team in place, running their business is a big undertaking.
“A brewery is like seven businesses in one,” said Holton. This includes things like managing their retail space, beer production, events, food handling and distribution.
They started building out the site in September of last year and said that, since opening their doors, business has been good.
“Opening week was crazy and it’s been steady ever since,” Reisdorf said. “The community has been great, they’ve come out and supported us. They are happy someone is here.”
The pair said now that the space has opened, they are thinking about next steps for their business, including retail distribution to liquor stores.
“When we first started this adventure, we thought distribution was a pipe dream,” said Residrof. “Now that we have the ability to sell 12 and 16 ounce cans, it has changed our thinking.”
While the pair said local distribution isn’t imminent, they do sell 24.5 ounce crowlers on site.
Wandering Leaf Brewing Company, 2463 West 7th St, St. Paul. Hours: Wednesday through Friday, 2-10 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, 12pm-10 pm. wanderingleafbrewing.com
by Damian Goebel