Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Faribault welcomes F-town Brewing Company July 30, 2015

A logo on the taproom wall, which opens to a street-side patio. To the left in the photo, up the hill, is Central Avenue. That

The taproom, right, opens to a street-side fenced patio. To the left, up the hill, lies Central Avenue, the main street through Faribault’s historic business district. F-Town encourages patrons to order carry-out at local restaurants and bring the food to the brewery to enjoy with beer.

ONE OF MINNESOTA’S newest craft breweries, F-Town Brewing Company, has opened in the heart of historic downtown Faribault, in a community with a rich beer history. The Fleckenstein family brewed Fleck’s beer and other beverages here for 108 years, until 1964.

An overview of the Peterson building which houses architectural salvage and antiques, left, with the brewery on the left.

An overview of the Peterson Art Furniture building which houses architectural salvage and antiques, right, with the brewery on the left.

Now locals Noah Strouth, Chris Voegele and Travis Temke have brought beer back to Faribault, housing their operation in a section of the aged Peterson Art Furniture Co. complex with the taproom in an adjoining converted garage space.

We wanted to sample all of the beers on tap, so we ordered a flight.

A snippet photo of the F-Town flight staged on the brewery’s signature orange picnic table.

F-Town has proven a popular gathering spot for craft beer lovers since opening about a month ago. Saturday evening my husband and I stopped by for the first time, purposely allowing the initial hoopla to settle. We ordered a $12 flight—a sampling of six beers ranging from the FlexLess light lager to the robust Nutso which tasted of coffee to me.

The beers included in our flight.

The beers included in our flight.

I was hard-pressed to choose a favorite. But Randy picked FlexLess without a second thought. He found it the most similar to mass-produced beers, which can be a good thing or not, depending on the type of beer you like. He prefers a less hoppy taste. I wondered about that name, FlexLess, and the similarity to the historic Fleck’s name. The founders of F-Town early on hoped to bottle Fleck’s branded beer at a brewery they initially named Patriot’s Brewing. That all changed following legal and trademark issues.

A block from F-Town, you'll find a mural honoring Fleck's beer.

A block from F-Town, you’ll find a mural honoring Fleck’s beer, once brewed in Faribault.

Eventually, the brewery became F-Town with beers bearing monikers like #1 American (there’s that patriotism), Ipalicious (an IPA) and We’ve Gone Plaid (a Scottish ale). The beers (only Ipalicious and Nutso at this point) are sold in cans, not bottles, a disappointment since I think craft beer should be bottled. But my son-in-law noted that cans are becoming a more common choice for craft breweries, including at the wildly popular Surly Brewing Co. I have yet to purchase F-Town beer off-sale as the one time I tried, the liquor store was sold out. The beer is being distributed only locally, for now, by College City Beverage.

In this photo, you see the door into the taproom and the patio.

In this photo, you see the door into the taproom and then the patio.

About that brewery name. I’ve heard mixed reviews. Some dislike that the “f-word” pops into your head upon hearing F-Town. But, on the positive side, the name is short and memorable and connects to the town name, Faribault with an “F,”  and purposely or not to the long-ago Fleckenstein breweries, also with an “F,” at least in my mind.

The taps.

The taps.

F-Town's IPA beer, Ipalicious.

F-Town’s IPA beer, Ipalicious.

I’ll admit, though, I’m not impressed by the wild-faced creature graphics for the Ipalicious and Nutso beers, the two F-Town beers currently canned and retailed. I was expecting art and beer names reflective of our historic community, local heritage, geographic setting and/or even the historic former furniture building in which the brewery is housed. I’m sure much thought was put in to both. But I am not making the strong connection to Faribault with the choices. I hope that changes.

Here's where the beer is made, just down the steps from the taproom.

Here’s where the beer is made, just down the steps from the taproom.

Words matter. A guy drinking beer next to my husband and me at F-Town pegged us as “beer hippies,” folks who apparently wander about checking out craft breweries. We’re not hippie anything other than coming of age in the early 1970s. He assessed us as such after I asked if he’d been to Montgomery Brewing in neighboring Montgomery. He hasn’t. We haven’t. We’ve only ever visited August Schell Brewing Company in New Ulm. And now F-Town, new on the Minnesota craft brewery scene and right here in the heart of historic Faribault.

Except for the sidewalk flag, there's no identifying  exterior street-side signage on F-Town Brewing. It's needed and perhaps it's coming. The garage doors are opened, if the weather is nice, when the taproom is open.

Except for the sidewalk flag, there’s no identifying exterior street-side signage on F-Town Brewing. It’s needed. Perhaps it’s coming.

FYI: The F-Town Brewing Company taproom is open from 3 p.m. – 9 p.m. Wednesdays and Thursdays; from 3 p.m. – 10 p.m. Fridays; from noon to 10 p.m. Saturday; and from noon to 3 p.m. Sunday. It’s closed Mondays and Tuesdays. Tours are available at 3 p.m. Thursday and 1 p.m. Saturday.

The brewery is located at 22 Fourth Street Northeast/Minnesota State Highway 60, just half a block off Central Avenue.

BONUS PHOTOS:

The scene at eye level of the historic Peterson Art Furniture. Plan time to explore this multi-level complex stuffed with antiques and collectibles and architectural salvage.

This is an eye level scene of the Peterson Art Furniture Company building from the F-Town patio. Therein you will find 25,000 square feet of antiques and collectibles, architectural salvage, lighting, furniture and more. Plan time to explore this multi-level complex. Faribault has a rich history of furniture makers.

Another perspective of our flight.

Another perspective of our flight.

When you're sipping on the patio, don't miss this mural of iceskaters on the Straight River.

When you’re sipping on the patio, don’t miss this mural of iceskaters on the Straight River.

© Copyright 2015 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

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34 Responses to “Faribault welcomes F-town Brewing Company”

  1. treadlemusic Says:

    I spotted that ice skating mural immediately and loved it (I love all the old signage on exterior walls of historic brick structures……..ambiance to the max!!!!!). We went to a craft beer tasting in Cleveland, when coming back from the East Coast a couple of years ago, and I was pleasantly surprised at the beers that appealed to me! And, I agree, it would seem that bottling would be preferable to the tin containers. I do know that, when boating on the river, glass bottles are not allowed to be taken so that may be a factor in some cases. I’m glad to see many of the historic buildings in our towns coming to life with such ventures!!!!

    • Yes, F-Town seems well-suited for Faribault and is just another reason for folks to visit. I’m with you on using our historic buildings. Faribault’s downtown is brimming with old buildings and most of them well-kept.

  2. Dan Traun Says:

    I like to see this type of thing; I would like to see similar things in every community. A brewery, winery, eatery – and *ery that represents the local community is a plus in most any form. It gives folks a reason to get out and sample what different communities have to offer. You touch on a couple of interesting aspects – name and art work. Both could be be polished up to fit in better with the community (if that was their goal). I think it would to their advantage to make an adjustment. I like what Red Wing Brewing Co. did – they kept it simple and incorporated aspects of Red Wing into the beer names (Anderson Wheat, Barn Bluff Brown, Goodhue Farmhouse, Jordan Creek, Work Boot Red, etc.).

    • I appreciate your specific examples of how Red Wing Brewing Co. worked aspects of Red Wing’s “attractions” into its beer names. This is exactly what I mean with my comment about the names F-Town has chosen, thus far, for its beer. Faribault is home of the Tilt-A-Whirl. I could see a beer with a nod to that, maybe use “dizzy” in the name. We’re known for our cheese-aged caves and the woolen mill and our historic downtown. There’s so much potential. We have the Straight and Cannon Rivers…

      Next time I’m in Red Wing, I need to check out your local brewery.

  3. Beth Ann Says:

    I am definitely not a beer drinker but I love how craft beer places have a following. We had company last night for dinner and I found that you could buy individual bottles and mix and match a 6 pack at Publix so that is what I did. Of course I picked beers with fun names and pictures on the bottles. Yes, that is how I pick beer. 🙂 Your post highlighted some great looking beers. I love when you can get a flight of drinks. Such a great way to sample different ones . If that option is available I almost always choose it.

  4. Marneymae Says:

    I’m in agreement with you regarding the graphics on those two beers.
    It’s so great when companies find multiple threads to the place of origin, regarding both graphics & names.
    Also, I find some of the names really creative & others, erm, a bit redundant.
    Maybe a wordsmith could have been brought into the brainstorming session for name choice.
    I love the “we’ve gone plaid”.
    I wish the company well.
    Always a benefit to a town, a small local business.

    • “Multiple threads.” Again, Marney, you found the perfect words to describe what I would like to see happen at F-Town.

      “We’ve Gone Plaid” is my favorite of all the names, too.

      Yes, F-Town is a great addition to Faribault. Just up the hill locally made and cave-aged cheeses are sold at The Cheese Cave. Across the street from that is our Paradise Center for the Arts. Either way down Central Avenue are specialty and antique shops. Further down is a third-generation family-owned shoe store where they still measure your feet. You can find great homemade pizzas at local establishments. So many reasons for folks to visit our downtown. And now we have our own beer, too.

  5. Thanks so much for sharing this brewery and loving your captures 🙂 Okay I agree with you on the graphic for Nutso in not getting it either. The Ipalicious graphic is an Angry Hop – love it. If I could I would take a Flexless and Nutso – YUM! The name of the brewery is growing on me. I would like to know more about “beer hippies”. I wonder what people would call me and Mr. Craves because we are BIG on checking out and tasting Craft Beers. We even checked out the craft beers while in Ireland. Here’s to doing your own thing and ADVENTURING!!!

    Cheers – Happy Day – Enjoy 🙂

    • I would definitely peg you and Mr. Craves as beer hippies. I didn’t realize the Ipalicious graphic is an Angry Hop. There you go. Shows you really know your beer.

    • We have lived in two cities now (West Coast and now Southeast Coast) where the craft breweries are a plenty and the craft brews are a pouring 🙂

      It is almost like F-Town is trying to find their identity. We have a new brewery here that was building an identity and due to trademark restrictions had to back track and try a different direction in building an identity. It is expensive to do that too. So they start with a basic identity and as the capital comes in they can develop and grow that brand identity throughout the whole business. It takes monies and time to do that and they have to start somewhere to get to that point or they are not going to make it.

      • Excellent points.

        F-Town started on this journey more than two years ago. They encountered obstacles. I wish them well. I want F-Town to succeed. Locals seem to be embracing F-Town. I hope that continues and even more beer lovers, from outside of Faribault, are drawn into our community.

      • I agree with you in that I wish F-Town the BEST of LUCK and a GREAT start in obtaining a following for their brewery and brews 🙂

        I love perusing the craft brew aisle to see what is new to try and taste and bring home a six-pack mixer. The Midwest has been taking off for years now with craft brews and more breweries entering the market. We home brewed our own brew back in June. The owner is from MN like me and Mr. Craves.

      • Well, if you ever get back to MN, look me up and we’ll get together for a beer at F-Town.

      • I will do that. My parents (the 365 day RVers) are down in your area for the Summer months. I might have to see if my dad is willing to go over and have a beer there. He is all for supporting the local community businesses.

      • Oh, yes, send your dad over to Faribault to check out F-Town.

  6. Almost Iowa Says:

    Beer hippies?

    Hey, I’ve been looking for a higher purpose in life. I think I found it!

  7. BradG Says:

    We retired to a Mecca of craft breweries. Hendersonville, NC (pop. 30,000) has three breweries, two wineries, and one hard cider bottler. And within 30 miles another 10 breweries. Its always 5 O’clock somewhere!

  8. I think I’d go along with Randy. I’m not a big fan of “micro-brewery” beers. Nor am I a fan of the heavy malt(y) tasting beers such as Guinness or Sam Adams. I’m always looking for a beer that tastes like the old days of Budweiser, Schlitz and Carling’s Black Label. Beer seemed taste better when you weren’t old enough to be served legally, at least in my opinion. lol

  9. Jackie Says:

    Even though I’m not a beer drinker, I always appreciate your “take” on things around your community. Probably my favorite thing about this whole post is the Winter mural, it’s beautiful and make me long for winter 🙂

  10. I’ve never been much of a beer drinker but it would be fun to go and try it out for the scenery and experience.

  11. hotlyspiced Says:

    How funny that he classified you and Randy as hippies! I know my husband would like this beer tour; one of his favourite things is to wander around trying new beers – and his son is just like him! xx


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