With a cursory glance, one might only perceive Drekker Brewing as that “Smoothie Sour” brewery, yet this nearly 7 year old enterprise, founded by four Fargo-area natives, is so much more. Focused on pushing the boundaries of experimentation, all the while guided by a north star of having fun and creating community, their continued growth has always been about creating good times for those willing to take the voyage.
While Drekker Brewing opened their original Downtown Fargo location in August 2014, it’s four founders had already been homebrewing together for 7 years. Started by Mark Bjornstad (President and still an Anesthesiologist), Darin Montplaisir (Head Brewer, formerly in Construction), Jesse Feigum (“Head of Nerdery,” skilled in Business and Marketing), and Mason Montplaisir (Chief of Hipster Relations and an Engineer), it’s clear that each is quite specialized.
Their approachable opening tap list over six years ago included a Porter, a Black IPA, an American IPA, an Irish Red, and a Pale Ale, quite a departure from where they are today, yet evolution’s always been their goal. While the success of their Irish Red (Broken Rudder, which features 15 pounds of local honey per batch) warranted it to be contract brewed by another brewery, it was done so to free up space for more ambitious creations. Drekker was one of the first craft breweries to open in the area, where at the time on-site consumption had only recently become legal. This enabled them to focus on creating more than just a space to gather, but also a vibrant craft beer culture as they’d experienced in more developed beer markets.
The word “drekker” is a combination of the Old Norse words drekka – “to drink”, drykkr – “a draft drink”, and drakkar – the French name for a Viking dragon ship. This name and the corresponding Viking logo jive well with the historically Scandinavian population of the area, not to mention a Viking dragon ship replica that’s located in nearby Moorhead.
Not long after opening, Drekker’s original 10 bbl brewhouse soon became over-stressed and quickly needed additional capacity. After a number of expansions to capacity and upgrades such as their own canning line, they opened a much larger location in 2018. Known as Brewhalla, the 11,400 sq ft space was once a train repair building that was built in 1883 – 6 years prior to North Dakota becoming a state. Now operating on a 15 bbl, 4 vessel system with a wealth of fermentation capacity, this new space offers them 21 steady taps, ten of which are populated by various IPAs. And they’ve even announced an expansion to Brewhalla, set for completion in 2022, complete with a food hall & market, event spaces, a 24 room hotel, and apartments.
Through it all, the brewery has made a point of investing in their community with the Unpillage program, which seeks to work with local non-profits and enlist volunteers to do the same. In the same vein, each step in their evolution has put conservation, efficiency, and the re-use of materials at the fore. This was most evident in the buildout of Brewhalla, with reclaimed wood and even buried train tracks being repurposed.
All of this continued growth and subsequent expansion all came about as a result of their evolution into a new terrain of beer styles. Over the course of 6 months in 2017, Drekker created four specific beers that would chart a more specific trajectory: People Eater (a Blueberry & Thai Basil Sour), Coconut Killer (a Milkshake IPA with Coconut, Lactose, and Vanilla), Ectogasm (a NE IPA with Mosaic & Citra), and Brain Squeeze (their first fruited Smoothie Sour, with Lactose & Vanilla). The success of these styles would push them to greater heights in creating one-of-a-kind NE-style Double IPAs, Secret Handshake, Braaaaaaaains, Chonk, and Slang du Jour, all different series of specific styles. Over the past 6+ years, Drekker has created over 234 unique beers, including 60+ IPAs, 30+ Stouts, and over 100 different sours.
We’ve been working with Drekker Brewing for over eight months now and are excited to showcase nine new beers that are arriving in Oregon bottle shops as we speak. They landed in Central Oregon Tuesday, in Salem/Corvallis/Eugene & Beaverton/Hillsboro yesterday, and in Portland since Tuesday. Here’s what to look for…
- Braaaaaaaains – Blueberry, Pomegranate, Plum ~ This hella jammy Braaaaaaaains is stuffed with Blueberry, Pomegranate, Plum, lactose & vanilla beans for a deep, rich, sweet & tart flavor that just doesn’t quit – 8.1%.
- Braaaaaaaains – Mango, Peach, Apricot ~ This Braaaaaaaains double fruit smoothie sour is completely stuffed with Mango, Peach, & Apricot and our not-so double secret smoothie treatment of lactose, sea salt and vanilla beans. It’s like the champagne of juice – 7.4%.
- Chonk – Strawberry, Guava & White Chocolate ~ This Chonk Sundae Sour is a hefty boi stuffed with strawberry, guava, and great big gobs of white chocolate for another delicious and decadent adventure into the realm of chonky absurdity – 7.3%.
- Cuddle Buddy – NE Double IPA ~ Cuddle Buddy is a super soft Double IPA brewed with a whole bunch of spelt and hopped with Mosaic, Sabro, & Belma that’ll boop its way to your heart with massive flavors of ripe cantaloupe, candied lemon, and watermelon – 8.2%.
- Long Haired Freaky People – NE Double IPA ~ Long Haired Freaky People is brewed with 100% Vic Secret hops for some huge citrus, pineapple, passionfruit, & stone fruit aromas that carry right into the flavor until you get hit with a nice, balanced bitterness – 8.2%.
- Slang Du Jour – Blackberry Cobbler ~ This Blackberry Cobbler Sour a la Mode is jam packed with an obscene amount of blackberry and then crumbled up with our choice cobbler treatment of granola, brown sugar, cinnamon, lactose, and vanilla beans for that fresh out of the oven flavor we just can’t get enough of – 7.3%.
- Synaptic Cleft – NE Double IPA ~ Synaptic Cleft is a big, soft double IPA built on a huge base of oats and wheat and hopped with Motueka, Moutere, Citra, and Belma for some massive citrus, stone fruit, & berry flavors with just the right amount of bitterness to perfectly balance it all out – 8.6%.
- Wheez the Ju-uuuuuuuuuice – DDH IPA ~ The Double Dry-Hopped version of Wheez the Juice, Wheez the Ju-uuuuuuuuuice doubles down on the Mosaic and Mandarina Bavaria dry hop additions for even more pineapple & citrus character – 6%.
- Whisper Scream – Kveik IPA ~ Whisper Scream is a Nordic IPA brewed with a grip of spelt & oats and excessively hopped with Rakau, Waimea & Mosaic. Then it’s fermented using a traditional Scandinavian Kveik yeast at absurdly high temperatures so the bright, citrus & tropical fruit from the hops mashes up with orange peel and a hint of spice from the yeast for a unique old-world take on the new-world IPA – 6.7%.
Content for this article sourced from Drekker Brewing, Craft Beer & Brewing Podcast, Craft Beer & Brewing – Brewing Industry Guide, Growler Magazine, High Plains Reader, fargomoorhead.org, INFORUM, KVRR News, Midwest Nest Magazine.