The Lab, an inventive, inclusive and interactive taproom that gives people a first taste of what’s next in beer and beyond, is now open. The Lab is located at 767 N. Eustis Street in St. Paul, in the Midway and at the crossroads of I-94 and Highway 280. The Lab will serve up beers, hard sodas, as well as non-alcoholic drinks including tea, sparkling water, energy drinks, children drinks and more — giving consumers of all tastes a new type of taproom experience.
The Lab — which is a creation of BevSource, a St. Paul-based provider of beverage development and operation solutions, founded in 2002 — pours many beverages that have yet to hit the market, giving guests exclusive tastes of the newest in beer and beverage trends. The Lab also allows guests to provide feedback on what they sample via the Untappd app, which will be relayed to the beverage creators to help them perfect their recipes. The Lab is planning for its own app to be launched later this year.
“We are offering not only a friendly and fun social gathering venue for all kinds of beverage lovers, but also an interactive experience where our guests can help shape the future trends of beer and beverages,” said Janet Johanson, CEO of BevSource and creator of The Lab. “If you love beer, we’ll have plenty of it pouring, and if you’re not in to beer, we’ll still have a drink for you.”
To encourage sampling of the variety of pilot brews, The Lab’s self-serve pouring wall allows guests to select and pour their own beer and the amount they desire. On-staff “walltenders” will guide guests and help educate consumers on the on-tap beverages that will include beer, hard sodas, kombuchas and more.
As another fun twist to this taproom experience, the beers on tap won’t be labeled by brand — to ensure beverage creators receive unbiased feedback from The Lab consumers via the Untappd app.
“A big part of The Lab is to give beverage creators real-world consumer feedback on their beverage ideas. We will give consumers a beverage profile on the style of beverages but not reveal the brand name,” said Johanson. “As a result, consumers can enjoy beers and other beverages from creators of all sizes and from all parts of the country, and give them feedback based on the drink quality rather than a logo. The exciting part is that customer purchases at The Lab can turn great ideas into the next hit beverage.”
For brewers and beverage developers, The Lab invites both established and start-up beverage brands to explore the boundaries of the latest trends and newest ingredients. The Lab includes a pilot production facility serving as a playground for beverage creators across the country to brew, ferment and create prototypes, as well as refine recipes and formulas.
The Lab’s pilot 7-barrel brewing system helps beverage creators reduce risk and saves money in the long term — giving them a resource where they can try out new recipes in a small batch setting and get live, real-world consumer feedback to help perfect formulas.
The pilot brewery is led by Matt Hall, a multi-medal winner in the World Beer Cup and at the Great American Beer Festival, and also former long-time brewmaster at Lift Bridge Brewing of Stillwater, Minnesota.
“There’s never been a more important time in the beverage industry to focus on quality and innovation,” Hall said. “As the market expands, different consumers enter, and as competition grows, the makers and creators need their beverages to be perfected, which is why The Lab makes sense as a versatile and state-of-the-art resource. We want to be a partner in exploration and creation, and raise expectations when it comes to quality and innovation while keeping things accessible.”
In addition to the pilot facility, The Lab provides a full-service quality assurance department serving as a solution for beverage partners to outsource testing to confirm product consistency and quality. The quality department is headed by Gerri Kustelski — affectionately known as the “Godmother of Quality” — who brings more than 50 years of experience in beer quality assurance.
Beyond the beverages, The Lab offers an event space with a window into the pilot brewery that can be rented out for birthdays, wedding dinners, company parties and more. Outside, an expansive patio runs along the venue, accessible via the main door and a large glass garage doors that can open up the taproom to the outdoor patio.
The Lab will also have a full-time food truck on-site to cook up food-pairings to complement its libations. The food truck will have a monthly menu, with rotating weekly specials.
The Lab serves up a convenient location right between downtown Minneapolis and St. Paul, at the intersection of Highway 280 and I-94 — complete with free and ample parking. The Lab is just minutes from the Metro Transit Green Line’s Westgate Station, providing for easy access to Minnesota United’s new Allianz Field, Target Field, US Bank Stadium, TCF Bank Stadium and more.
Housed in the newly renovated Court & Case Building, The Lab brings a fresh new taste to the growing and on-the-rise neighborhood in an historic structure.
“We saved and re-used as much as we could from this 1940s building, including original skylights and marred concrete flooring, to maintain the open, industrial feel that our Case tenants love,” said Max Currie, Principal and Chief Engineer of Suntide Commercial Realty, the building’s owner. “We are excited to have The Lab joining us and know their patrons will appreciate the convenient location when they’re looking for a fun place to hang out, get a bite and grab a drink.”