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Brew Ales & Eats opens in Detroit Lakes

Brew Ales & Eats now has a second location at 111 Veterans Memorial Drive in Detroit Lakes. DL NEWSPAPERS/Paula Quam

It’s been a highly anticipated event for many in Detroit Lakes – the opening of Brew, Ales & Eats.

For several months, the space in the Downtown Crossing along Highway 10 has been somewhat of a mystery, as the windows have remained blocked and contractors  seen coming in and out.

Finally, the door to the new locally owned restaurant/bar has swung open, and it’s been quite the hot spot.

“Our first weekend open we ran out of food,” laughed Gretchen Hunter, who is part owner and manager of Brew. “We had people standing outside in the pouring rain waiting to get in,” she added, “so it’s been great.”

Hunter, who worked for 14 years at Zorbaz on Pelican, never expected to own and operate her own restaurant. In fact, when she talked to her old friends from Perham who owned Brew there – Alex and Brit Belquist – about the possibility of them opening up another Brew in Detroit Lakes, she had only wanted another place to eat and hang out in town.

“But they were too busy with their place in Perham, and so they said, ‘well, maybe you guys should do it’, so here I am,” she said.

Hunter, along with her husband Nate and the Belquists, are owners of Brew in Detroit Lakes, but it’s Gretchen’s face customers will see in there most often.

Brew at its best

It can be tough to define Brew in a single term. It isn’t just a bar; it isn’t just a restaurant. It isn’t a chain. It also isn’t what Hunter would describe as a bar and grill.

Her motto maybe sums it up best.

“We like to say that it’s better to drink in a restaurant than to eat in a bar,” said Hunter, “so I think we’re more restaurant than bar.”

In a décor that somehow mixes an industrial look into both a modern and rustic style, Brew owners completely remodeled the space into a warm, sit-down-and-relax-for-a-while kind of a place.

“We used Grain Designs out of Fargo and a place called Pedro Luggage Company for our wood; the tables are from the old arsenal in Minneapolis, and our barn doors are from a grain elevator in Minnesota somewhere,” said Hunter, who wanted Brew to have a relaxed feel that reflects their personalities.

“I want people to feel like they’re at their friend’s house, and not at somebody’s restaurant,” said Hunter.

Except unlike most friends’ houses, this one has 32 different kinds of beers on tap, all hand-picked by the Brew crew and their slew of facebook followers.

“We try to keep it as local as we can with the beer, so we have a lot of Minnesota, North Dakota and Wisconsin,” said Hunter, who says although there are only a good handful of specialty cocktails on the menu, they can make just about any drink a customer could want.

But at Brew, bartenders don’t just toss some booze into a glass and call it good – this too, is made into an experience.

They use a technique called ‘muddling’, in which certain food accents like mint and lime are mashed together at the bottom of the glasses to infuse the flavors and help bind with the alcohol to produce a fresh, flavorful drink.

The food at Brew will also have its own identity.

Although some of its menu will look similar to Brew’s in Perham, Detroit Lakes Chef David Grimsley will be adding his own flare to the place.

Hunter says although the menu will evolve with the seasons and demand, right now Brew’s most popular appetizers are the goat cheese quesadillas and gouda pickles.

And burgers at Brew take on a life of their own.

“We have a very unique burger line-up,” smiled Hunter. “One that a lot of men are liking is ‘Two Pigs and a Hen’, which has pulled pork and bacon for the two pigs and an egg over-easy.”

Brew also offers an expanding line of salads and will soon feature desserts as well.

Hunter says just like their beer, they try to keep their food local as well.

“Our meat comes from Lakes Processing and our buns from the bakery here,” said Hunter.

Although Brew’s outdoor patio with the fireplace and plethora of drink options has made for a cozy place for adults to hang out, Hunter says Brew is kid-friendly too.

“We have a kid’s menu, and they are more than welcome to be anywhere they want to be in here,” she said.

Although Brew is open and busy, finishing touches are still being added to the restaurant here and there and little changes being made.

“Facebook has been awesome because we’re hearing from people about all the things they’d like to see us do, and they’ve helped with the food and tap line-up,” said Hunter. “We try to please everyone’s taste buds.”

Brew currently has 43 employees all being trained to serve up its specialties, which will soon also include lunch specials.

Although hours will change with the seasons, right now Brew is open Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 4 p.m. to midnight, Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.

Paula Quam

Paula Quam is the editor for Forum Communications Co. newspapers in Detroit Lakes, Perham and Wadena, all in Minnesota.

(218) 844-1466