Steve Long took up homebrewing in Texas in the 80s long before the hobby became the trend it is today. As a chemical engineering major, he relied on library research, and a lot of trial and error, to make beer a college student could afford, without the resources of online blogs and home brewing supply shops.
Almost 40 years later he's still ahead of the curve, for Woodbury anyway, opening the first brewery in town with his wife Deb.
"It's amazing being the first of anything, but the first brewery when your hobby is brewing beer, yeah it doesn't get any better than that," Steve said.
Pending approval from the city, Deb and Steve plan to open 3rd Act Craft Brewery at 4120 Radio Drive by the end of the year, with construction planned to start at the end of April with a groundbreaking on April 24.
Getting this far in the process required a new ordinance on breweries from the city of Woodbury, and the business will require final approval from the council during its meeting in April, as well as federal permitting.
Once built 3rd Craft will host 150 people inside, with an additional 50 on an outdoor patio. The brewing will not be set apart from the customers, with the tanks out in the open concept in full view.
Games will be available for customers to play, from board games inside to bocce ball outside.
"I want people to come in there, sit down, have a beer and feel like they're at home," Steve said.
Ten taps will be available, including eight that will come straight from the storage tanks of freshly-made beer. An 11th tap will serve root beer for kids.
Steve plans to have a variety of beer available, from German to American types.
"We'll just monitor it and see what people like," he said.
Food will be available as well through counter service. Pizza, pretzels, paninis and possible more will come fresh from a pizza oven at the brewery.
The brewery will fill some of the Steve's time after his retirement from 3M. He was wondering what he was going to do, when Debbie threw out the idea of a brewery.
"So it's all her fault," Steve said.
In preparation, Steve took classes at Dakota County Technical College to study brewing technology and networked with those he met along the way.
"And then it just kind of took on a life of its own," Steve said. "And now I'm all in."
Though Steve has knowledge and experience, he plans to hire a brewer for 3rd Act.
"It'd be like yeah, I know how to cook, but I'm not a chef," Steve said.
In search of the perfect location, Steve looked at a map of all the breweries from St. Paul to western Wisconsin. He found a hole that ranged from Seventh Street West in St. Paul to Stillwater, and decided to fill it.
Deb and Steve considered areas in Cottage Grove and Lake Elmo before landing on this spot in the city where they live.
"This was her favorite," Steve said.
"Location, location, location," Deb explained.
Though 3rd Act is the first brewery in Woodbury, Steve has been reaching out to others around the area who have been helpful and supportive.
"They open up everything," he said.
"I'm doing all the due diligence," Steve said.
Deb and Steve plan to run the business as a time - him on the brewing side, and her running the marketing aspects.
"I think it's going to be one of the nicest breweries in the midwest," he said.