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FIRST IN 100 YEARS: New Lanesboro brewery weathers storm of pandemic shutdowns

Sylvan Brewing in the old Lanesboro Granary building

LANESBORO, Minn. (FOX 47) -- The Heimdahls had long dreamed of opening a brewery.

"Whether you live in Lanesboro or grew up here, no matter your background, we can all agree it's so beautiful here," said Karen Heimdahl, co-owner of Sylvan Brewing.

They knew it would survive in the old Lanesboro Granery building, but how about in the middle of a pandemic?

It was a big risk for the owners of Sylvan Brewing, Lanesboro's first brewery in over 100 years.

"It's been a dream of ours to do this in our own community," Heimdahl said. "To have a place that people feel welcome and would want to gather."

Since opening up a few months ago, there has not been much gathering.
This weekend, Sylvan is allowing customers inside for the first time this year.

"We're finding that some people still choose to be outside which is great," Heimdahl said. "We still have our firepit and heaters outside for people who want to be outside."

Lanesboro is a seasonal tourist town so you might think opening a brewery in October would be a bad idea. However, the secret of Sylvan Brewing is already out.

"The best thing is they are liking the beer and environment so we're really excited," Heimdahl said.

Southern Minnesotans are also excited to try a new brewery in the area.

"So far, so good. One sip in. I got the Daisy Hazy IPA," said Rochester resident Eric Applen.

Applen is a craft beer enthusiast who supports local breweries and enjoys visiting Lanesboro.

"My wife saw it on Facebook and we thought we'd make a trip down here to check it out," he said.

Applen is not the only Med City resident coming through the doors.

"People from Rochester are hearing about us. We get a lot of people from Iowa and Wisconsin," Heimdahl said. "We have people from La Crosse here right now. We've even had people from other states who are driving through."

The couple plans to hire employees in a few months as they expect a busy summer, yet recognize that sometimes things do not go as expected.

"All we know right now is rolling with the punches and we'll continue to do that," Heimdahl said.

Karen's husband, Andy, has over a decade's experience brewing including interning at two southern Minnesota favorites, Island City in Winona and Karst in Fountain.

For more about Sylvan, see its Facebook page.

Alex Tejada

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