Omni translates to “of all things.” Through its beer and comfortable atmosphere, Omni Brewing is a space where craft beer lovers and newbies alike can come together as one. For the owners, it’s all about making a connection.
Founders Justin Walsh and Zack Ward wanted to create a welcoming space for people with similar interests to gather. “Our world today does a lot of things to pull us all apart—both physical and emotional distance,” Ward says. “Taprooms, I feel, are one of the few places you can connect with your neighbor over a shared appreciation.”
The two fell in love with the taproom vibe for the product and the physical space. With an extensive home brewing background, Ward decided to go pro to share his love for bold flavored brews with others. Operating out of a former Schwan’s facility, they worked to revamp the space to create the local laid-back atmosphere they always dreamed of. “It is different than the bars in college or a cocktail lounge … it is very unassuming,” Ward says. “I like the communal nature.”
Though beer is their pride and joy, the two also share a love for another aged beverage—wine. Opening this December, Maple Grove’s Omni Brewing will expand to Rosemount to feature a new wine-concept venue called Omni Winery and Tap Room. What sparked this venture was the realization that not all their customers are “beer people.”
“The reason for doing it is sort of two-fold … our ethos is all kinds of beer for all kinds of people,” Ward says about their mission as a growing brand. “This [second location] will be a nice way for us to extend an olive branch to those who want a laid-back, casual experience but just happen to not drink beer.”
The new location will serve an array craft wines (eventually they will produce their own lines), as well as some of the beers already tapped at Omni—the best of both worlds.
In addition to the array of refreshments, they also hope to provide an environment that is similar to that of the brewery. The venue sits on four acres of land and will be home to a vineyard and green space for visitors to picnic and play yard games in the warmer months.
Having fun is what it’s all about. That is why they also want to make their two locations venues where people are enthusiastic about the products and don’t feel intimidated by the language tied to them. Implementing tastings and dialogue behind each customer interaction is at the forefront of their work, says DJ Leffin, winemaker and operational manager Omni Winery and Tap Room. “The idea of taking something and completely crafting it into something else but then there is that experience of being able to share it with others and promote education and learning to better experience wine [and beer],” Leffin says. “… There is no such thing as a dumb question.”
As a brewery that appeals to its clientele, Ward says it is more about following where the market goes rather than to have a lot of beers on tap. Though classic winter beers, like stouts, porters and amber ales, are more commonly consumed during the colder months, he says that, at the end of the day, people want something that is easy drinking and light.
Ward shares his winter beer of choice, which just so happens to be one of his favorite beers he has ever brewed: Snow Ryemoval.
Snow Ryemoval is a rye lager. “It is not overly big in body, but it has more of a bolder, malty rye flavor,” he says. Complementing the rich comfort foods of the holiday season—think Thanksgiving dinner. He says it’s the perfect agent to marry with the traditional menu.