Family has always been among the most important things for Delano area brothers Zac and Jake Gleason.
As they prepare to open their own brewery together, it’s no surprise that the two have incorporated their family ties into Hackamore Brewing Company in Chanhassen as they are set to open their doors for the first time Friday, April 28.
“The vision of this whole brewery is nested in our family’s roots,” Zac said. “We’re excited to have people come in and pour them some beers. I want this to become a destination and spot that craft beer connoisseurs come running to. We are very close, and it’s a crazy feeling.”
Just one look at the name of the brewery, and you’ll find the first touch of family in the name. Hackamore Brewing Company is named after the street where the Gleason’s grandparents lived in Corcoran.
“It’s based on the name of the street for our grandparents’ home,” Zac said. “We spent the majority of our life growing up in that home. Hackamore is a hub for us but for our whole family too. A lot of this is a tribute to our upbringing.”
Hackamore Brewing Company has been in the works for the past two years, but the idea of opening a brewery dates back even longer. What started as homebrewing in a garage 10 years ago for the Gleason brothers, along with their cousin Nick Flies has now turned a dream into a reality as they’re set to open their doors to their own brewery.
“We used to homebrew together for years,” Zac said. “We homebrewed a lot. This was something we always dreamed about together.”
The beginning stage
The first step to making Hackamore Brewing Company a reality and not just an idea was a big one. In September 2021, Zac quit his corporate job and took a leap of faith into the idea of opening his own brewery. After leaving his job, the first call Zac made was to his brother Jake, someone he wanted to make sure was part of this journey.
“I quit my job and put my head down with a dream to start a business, and this brewery is that business,” he said. “I met with Jake and told him that I wanted to start a brewery. This is what I want my legacy to end up being. I didn’t want to work for a company making someone else all the money. I got in a position where I wanted to put my head down and do this. I’m not sure he took me completely seriously. We met again later, and I told him I was actually doing this. I told him I want you to be part of it, and I want to do this together. It’s kind of a dream of ours together to own a brewery.”
With the plan in motion, it was time to get to work. The journey from having an idea to opening their doors has been challenging for the Gleason brothers. Still, they already know how rewarding the process has been as they are starting to see their hard way pay off as opening day approaches.
“It’s been one of the hardest processes I’ve ever done,” Zac said. “There have been major hurdles throughout it all. We originally thought we were going to end up in Edina. It fell through, though, and it ended up being a blessing in disguise. This place turned out to be everything we could have hoped for. It has everything we wanted when it came to our checklist. Each of the phases was a whole new set of challenges. There are absolutely ups and downs. In the end, it’s been extremely rewarding. You sit here by yourself sometimes and just take all this, and it doesn’t feel real. This is what we want our legacy to be.”
“It’s a surreal feeling because during the process, there have been so many ups and downs,” Jake added. “The timeline of things was way longer than any of us anticipated it to be. The fact that we’re finally going to be able to open our doors is an extremely blessed feeling. We’ve been telling people we’re opening a brewery for two years now. To be able to deliver on that now is a really fun feeling. There’s this surreal feeling that we’re actually opening a brewery, and it’s awesome. We talked about this in our garage 10 years ago, and now we’re going to do it.”
Finding the right team
While craft beer has always been something the Gleason brothers have enjoyed and worked on, they knew it was important to surround themselves with experienced and talented brewers when they decided to open their own brewery.
One call to their cousin Nick Flies was all that was needed to get him to join the team. Flies brings experience to the Hackamore Brewing Company team as the head brewer after making stops at Enki, Waconia Brewing Company, Lynn Lake Brewing, and Pantown Brewing. Hackamore Brewing Company also brought on Tom Schufman as a technical brewer with experience at Waconia Brewing Company, Fulton, and Summit.
“We homebrewed a lot together, and Nick kind of took it to a whole new level by starting to work at real breweries,” Zac said. “When we started Hackamore, we always knew Nick was the guy for this. This is something we’ve always dreamed of together, and he hopped right over. When Tom was the head brewer at Waconia, Nick was his assistant, so we kind of brought the band back together. We’re all friends, and the culture is fun. Coming up with fun beer names and making that beer list together has been a lot of fun.”
Both Flies and Schufman come to Hackamore Brewing Company heavily decorated. Between the two, they have received more than 10 awards for their work and are looking to make their impact once again with a new chapter. The last two stouts in the world that were awarded gold medals have been their beers.
“They make great beer together,” Jake said. “They’ve done all sorts of festivals and competitions. We’re pretty excited that the first beers we made came out like they did. We’re proud to serve what we’re going to right out of the gates. Our brewers are dialed in, and we’re really happy with the crew we have here.”
Family means everything
The family roots for the Gleason brothers go beyond just the brewery’s name. Pieces of family ties are sprinkled throughout the brewery, but most noticeable will be the names of their flagship beers.
“All of our flagship beers have a meaning,” Zac said. “Our #14 lager is one we really want to stand out. That’s the only one people will see that will stand out because I want people to know the story. That one is going to be the tribute to our grandpa, and everyone will get to hear his story. He’s no longer with us, but he’s the heart and soul of Hackamore.”
The #14 lager will stand out to patrons as it’s the only tap at the bar that doesn’t look the same. The tap handle for the special beer features a cardinal and a baseball to pay homage to their grandpa and the sport he instilled a love for.
“On the tap for #14 at Hackamore Brewing lies a baseball and a cardinal in honor of our grandpa,” Zac said. “A cardinal is the universal sign for a loved one looking over your shoulder. When a cardinal flies near you, that’s a sign a loved one is coming to check on you. For the baseball, #14 was his number and was for so much of our family. Our grandpa was the reason our entire family has a passion for baseball.”
The #14 lager is not only a special beer because of the name but also because of the type of beer it is.
“It’s a light lager,” Zac said. “He would only drink the lightest and crappiest beer he could find at the liquor store. We knew we had to brew a light lager in his honor.”
The other flagship beers at Hackamore Brewing Company also hold special meaning. The Potbelly Oatmeal Stout is in honor of the potbelly pigs the Gleason brothers used to raise with their grandparents. The Can Crusher Cream Ale represents their grandpa’s love and admiration for collecting aluminum cans for profit, while Grandma’s Kitchen Strawberry Rhubarb Pie Sour brings back memories of all the snacks and treats the Gleason brothers enjoyed while spending time at grandma’s house.
Inside the brewing area, the floor is also painted red as that was their grandpa’s favorite color making them feel like he is part of the brewing process.
Introducing new technology
Efficiency and sustainability are two pillars that Hackamore Brewing Company will live on. That’s why they will be the first brewery in Minnesota to package and serve beers in First Element kegs. The innovative kegs eliminate cleaning, which saves water, reduces the amount of loss on the changeover, and are lightweight and can be served vertically or horizontally.
“It’s a modern new idea in the evolution of kegs,” Zac said. “They put in eight or nine years of research and design before bringing their product to the market. They’re amazing because of their size and the ability to maneuver. They can be served vertically or horizontally, which is a huge plus. By design, we created our entire flow of this brewery for efficiency.”
“A standard keg is made of stainless steel, and they’re heavy,” Jake added. “They use a lot of water to clean as well. Not one drop of water ever has to clean those kegs. The keg itself is made from recyclable materials, and there’s a bladder inside the keg that is also recyclable.”
A big plus of the new kegs will be the ability to make sure they are getting the full amount of beer out of each keg. A standard keg loses two or three pints on average when being changed over, a problem that the new kegs will fix.
“With a traditional keg, you’re left with a waste amount at the bottom that you can’t really serve,” Zac said. “These kegs suck completely clean, almost like a Capri Sun would. That’s what this does under pressure, so you’re left with zero waste. Our entire strategy, from keg to cooler to tap handle to glass, is 100 percent efficient. We put a lot of thought into this.
The place to be
Among just opening a brewery, the Gleason brothers have spent a lot of time going over things other than just beer. Digging into their property management backgrounds, they knew their brewery would need to offer new and exciting amenities. Part of the brewery will feature a golf simulator, the only brewery in Minnesota to have one. They also have a bar area and a more traditional beer hall that can be used for live music and other events.
“I live in the area, and I recognized there’s not a lot to do at times,” Zac said. “There’s a lot of corporate type restaurants, and I think people are really looking for more of a scratch-made experience and not so cookie cutter to do. We basically created this whole idea of giving the community something to do. We took our experience from property management, and it was always about coming up with more and more amenities. We really wanted to build a brewery with amenities in it. We wanted to load this place up with fun stuff to do where it’s not just a place where you’re going to sit down and drink a beer and wonder what to do next.”
Hackamore Brewing Company is set to open Friday, April 28, beginning at noon. The brewery is located in Chanhassen, just off Highway 5 and Dell Road. You can follow Hackamore Brewing Company on all social media channels to stay updated on news and event announcements.
“Everyone around here and in this community is excited about coming here,” Zac said. “It’s awesome to hear other communities support us as well. It’s just been overwhelming.”