Time to lift a glass

Staff members for the Craft House on Lake Minnewawa raise a glass to the soft opening of the new business June 3. As expected, the grand opening took place the following day. The business features 36 different brews on tap as well as unique cocktails and a full-service kitchen. Inset: Sampler “flights” of beer – five samples as shown here – allow visitors to the Craft House to try different ales, ciders and seltzers.

It is a business four years – as well as a fire, a rebuild and surviving a pandemic – in the making.

The Craft House on Lake Minnewawa officially opened for business June 4, with 36 different beers and brews on tap, a specialty cocktail menu and wide variety of food.

Located at 19037 Goshawk St., McGregor, the business has been a work in progress since owner Cory Eken purchased the building in November of 2017.

It is located right across from the southern public access of Lake Minnewawa.

Eken, who also owns Palisade Cafe 2.0, the Buckhorn Bar in McGregor and Pour Lewey’s in McGrath, has been putting in time and effort on the new business – the building of which was built from scratch after a fire burned the previous building to the ground in March of 2018.

“It was either make the decision to start over, or not,” Eken said. “I knew what I wanted to do here. It’s definitely been a long three years.”

Eken started rebuilding in the fall of 2018, but winter came sooner that year than expected. That slowed the building process, as did the COVID-19 pandemic last year.

Eken said that the building remains “a work in progress,” but with a fully furnished interior, an outdoor deck, a patio, an indoor lounge and plenty to serve, the new business brought in quite the crowd on its opening weekend.

“Guests were waiting outside the front door at 11 a.m. on grand opening day,” said Amy Wyant, the executive assistant to Eken and formerly a waitress for the owner at Palisade Cafe 2.0.

A few months in, Eken mentioned craft beer to Wyant – and the rest is history. The two share the day-to-day operations of the business, which is all about creating an experience for guests.

“There’s something for everyone to try,” Wyant said. “Not only try, but enjoy.”

First, the Craft House has 36 different beers, ales, ciders and seltzers on tap. All are Minnesota crafted and range from IPAs to sours to ales and lagers.

For those looking to expand their palate, a “flight” of beer can be ordered with five snifter glasses from the different taps.

Also available are the Craft House cocktails – recipes for which are exclusive to the Craft House and use, again, Minnesota spirits.

“We only use spirits from Minnesota distilleries,” said Wyant, who added that she, Eken and the rest of the staff worked with a mixologist representing the distilleries for training on how to make the cocktails.

“These recipes are exclusively for the Craft House,” Wyant added. “The staff gave input on the names of the drinks.”

Among the possibilities are The Patio Pounder – Vikre Juniper Gin and Tattersall Orange Crema mixed with lemon juice, blackberry rhubarb and garnished with rosemary – as well as the Cucumber Peach Cobbler (Crop Cucumber Vodka, Creme de Peche, lemon juice, simple syrup and soda water garnished with a cucumber slice).

The food menu features a variety of appetizers, salads, wraps and wood-fired pizza.

The lounge and inside area also feature a shuffleboard table, a life-sized Connect 4 board and table games. There are bean bag boards for outdoors as well.

Wyant said that the Craft House will continue to learn about the breweries and distilleries it works with as well as continue training.

The Craft House is also working on launching its “Brew Club” in September. The monthly event will be limited to 36 club members, for a fee, and feature three beers and two food pairings – one appetizer and one personal wood-fired pizza.

“We want to create an experience for our guests that is unique, educational and fun,” Wyant said.

The Craft House is open Thursday-Monday from 11 a.m.-11 p.m., with food available from 11 a.m.-10 p.m.

For more information, call 218-419-0699.

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