Bang Brewing maximizes their space, totes sustainability and makes exceptional beer. This week, I sat down with co-owners Sandy and Jay Boss Febbo to learn more about their brewery. It is undoubtedly one of the most unique and hidden gems of the brewery scene in the Twin Cities, and, dare I say, the United States.
After opening the Northern Brewer on Grand Avenue in 1993, the couple was eager to embark on a new culinary adventure. (I’d like to add that Northern Brewer is still thriving just a mile east of Macalester, and is the place I bought my first beer kit.) Nonetheless, Sandy and Jay did not initially foresee their future careers to be in the brewing business. Sandy was a producer with an advertising background and Jay a software engineer. However, both shared a passion for perfection and used their past professions to create the best beer that they could. Bang Brewing Company opened for business in September 2013.
Approaching the brewery, it’s easy to think that you came to the wrong address. The brewery is only accessible by driving half a mile down a beaten down road, only to be stuck between a much larger brewery (Urban Growler) and dozens of industrial rail tracks. Rest assured, you typed “St. Paul” instead of “Minneapolis” correctly, and your phone did not lead you to the wrong address. When I first saw the brewery, I mistook it as a grain bin for Urban Growler. I was not prepared to see a whole brewery—with an impressive 1,300 square feet. Sandy and Jay custom-built this “grain bin” design from predominantly reused materials. The bin went through pre-fab construction, and hosts all of Bang’s high-efficiency boilers, chillers and appliances. I can’t emphasize enough that every possible inch of space is maximized to its fullest potential. Next to the tables lie the bags of wheat and barley; the one table in the whole brewery that is used for production is later used as the main table. All other products to create the beer are in a loft, hovering over the tables. It can get quite cozy inside the brewery, but during the summer, the crowd floods out and utilizes picnic tables and fire pits.
Bang Brewing has an impressive dedication to sustainability. Since day one, the brewery has never distributed paper receipts. It only buys grains, hops and yeast from local, certified organic farmers. Not only is there on-site recycling and compost programs, but due to the brewery’s zero-waste mission, all their bottles can be reused. I personally go to Scott’s Liquor to buy their bottles, where the providing liquor store or Bang itself will reimburse you for returning the bottle. Their kegs use up to 36 percent less metal per keg than standard steel kegs, and even their delivery vehicle is hand painted without the use of vinyl.
Before discussing the beer, allow me to provide some anecdotal irony. As previously mentioned, Sandy came in with an advertising background, but refused to invest any money in raising awareness for their newly opened brewery—all knowledge of the brewery was spread by word of mouth.
Furthermore, Jay was a software engineer but did not invest much into the initial website. The website only served to provide basic information that would allow customers to know how to get to the brewery.
“Let’s make this as personal and real as possible.” Sandy said. “It’s always about the beer.”
With that being said, how’s the beer?
The brewery constantly introduces new beers, and there are only two beers that are relatively consistent on tap: BANG and NICE. There’s a reason these are here to stay. BANG is a classic double IPA that is anchored in hoppy tastes and NICE is a dark ale that has a nutty, chocolaty taste. However, to ultimately enhance this drink, I recommend asking for an infusion of cold brew coffee made specifically for this beer by local coffee shop, Kopplin’s. If you just want a straight-forward, light, wheat beer, I recommend going with PILS, a Bohemian pilsner. Two other beers that I appreciate are MOSH and FARM. MOSH, which stands for Maris Otter Single Hop, reinforces simplicity as the ultimate sophistication. MOSH is made with just one malt, Maris Otter. Crowned as the “Rolls-Royce” of malts, it is one of the highest quality forms of barley on the market. If you’re looking for something more fruity, I’d recommend going with FARM. This farmhouse ale consists of a Belgian yeast with an almost sarsaparilla taste that offers cherry and strawberry tones. This beer also uses Kernza, an intermediate wheatgrass that is perennial and was created by the Land Institute and the University of Minnesota. It is remarkable that the wheat grown for this beer is cropped just miles away from the brewery.
I am simply, utterly impressed by Bang. Every beer was light. During the day, sunshine — another type of light — provides all the illumination in the tiny brewery. The sustainability of the brewery is remarkable, and has deservedly led to many state and national awards, like the 2015 and 2017 Sustainable Saint Paul Awards, and a feature on the 2018 National Geographic Menu of the Future. As one of the closest breweries to Macalester, if you are looking for incredibly high-quality beer at a reasonable price that emphasizes sustainability, Bang Brewing is the place to go.
Bang Brewing Company is located at 2320 Capp Road in Saint Paul, MN 55114.