New Beer, New Digs: Padraigs, River Siren, and Two Fathoms

For 10 years, 612Brew was a core tenant of the Broadway Building at the busy intersection of Broadway and Central in Northeast Minneapolis. But last summer, 612 sold their business to new owners, Pat Carey, Jason Myrold, and Steve Wankewycz, who have rebranded as Padraigs Brewing.

When a new business takes over an existing location, especially one inhabited by a business that sells the same type of product or service, it can be an uphill challenge to establish their own identity. The model is sometimes called turnkey, but it’s not as simple as changing a name or sign. 


“I always liked this facility; I love the aesthetic,” Pat Carey says of the Broadway Building. And as a new brewery owner, he also loves having a patio, parking lot, and room for production — features he and his partners were specifically looking for in starting their own brewery. A home base is central to any brand, and the Northeast location offered a lot of advantages. Carey says customers tell him: “We always loved this space and felt it was underutilized.” 

Padraigs has brightened the interior space and created new beer recipes while maintaining the same popular patio.

The brewery serves five core beers, with eight to 12 taps available. Three varieties are also in liquor stores throughout the metro. The name, Padraigs (Gaelic for “Patrick” and the origin of the name “Paddy”) is pronounced just like “Patrick,” but with a hard G at the end, Pad-rig. It highlights their brand of Irish and UK-inspired beers, made with Irish malt and British yeast.

Their beer is in 50-plus stores now, plus local bars. Basic Instinct West Coast IPA and Honey Blonde both started as 612Brew beers, but each recipe has been modified to fit the new brand’s Irish focus. In fact, a full switchover was part of the purchase agreement with 612Brew’s ownership group. Other than a few subtle nods, such as using the same artist (Adam Turman) for the inside mural, Padraigs is a brand new brewery with brand new beer. Red Chimney red ale is their number one seller.

With a background in corporate sales and marketing, Carey saw opportunity, but wanted to have a foundation already in place. This was always the business model: it was just a matter of finding the right location at the right time. 

So how did they make the space their own? First, there was a makeover. But Padraigs maintained the original brewhouse and taproom staff upon taking over. Some employees left of their own choice. Meanwhile, the new owners introduced entirely new business processes, a brewery management system, a pilot system, and more. Buying an operating business allowed a slow rollout, with the previous owners holding a consulting position for a few months of transition to help understand licensing and bigger picture business issues. 

Those are the benefits. The challenge was swapping inventory and managing costs through the process. Taps slowly transitioned from 612 beer to Padraigs. Meanwhile, the new owners had piles of empty (and full) cans to liquidate. They had to crush already canned beer, as it didn’t benefit Padraigs to sell it in stores, and they still have a stack of empty cans to dispose of.

“The mural, for me, was emotionally the ‘Wow! we’re here moment,” says Carey. “It’s been a good process and we’ve had amazing support. We have a lot of people from Northeast coming in and wanting us to be successful,” he says proudly. The new Irish-themed brewery seeks to be a draw locally while continuing to grow its distribution.

Padraigs Brewing, 945 Broadway St NE, Minneapolis, 612.489.7100, TUE-THU 4-10pm, FRI 2:30-10pm, SAT 12-10pm, SUN 12-7pm, MON CLOSED


Downtown Stillwater is known as a destination for restaurants, bars, boutiques, and beauty. It’s a busy Main Street with an aesthetic that blends the natural scenery of the St. Croix River with bustling, unique commercial shops. From 2014-2021 that included Maple Island Brewing [1] on Main Street, before new owners Brian and Harmony Carlson took over the business, shifting its identity and brewing philosophy while changing the name to River Siren Brewing Company.

“I’d considered starting from scratch,” Brian says. But location is essential and, he matter of factly states, “I would put this location up against any other brewery in the state of Minnesota” due to its foot traffic and riverfront view. Repeating a concept from Padraigs: “When we came here we could see the potential that this location had.”

“The first changes were the atmosphere,” Brian says. Seeking to match the restaurants, hotels, and shops of Main Street, the new owners wanted to fit in with their community while separating from the past. “We added a large deck on the river side of the building to overlook the river and showcase all the great things of Stillwater,” he explains. That carried to interior renovations as well, highlighting Stillwater’s natural beauty and the town’s logging history.

“It was an asset purchase,” Brian explains: purchasing equipment plus all the rights and intellectual property. The previous owner stayed in a temporary consulting role to navigate issues like licenses and event permits. They also kept the full staff through the discovery period. Formerly an assistant brewer, Tony Freeman is now head brewer. While Brian has experience home brewing, the majority of River Siren beers come from Freeman today. “It was a gradual replacement,” Brian says, over several months. 

Ownership changed hands on July 15, 2021, but it took a while to feel like they’d fully moved on, says Brian. When their name went on the building itself, on the riverside deck, it felt real, he says. “I couldn’t keep from looking at that. That’s when it really felt like we’re here, it’s happening… that was probably October 2021,” he says, laughing because an early snowfall forced them to immediately close the deck for the season. The formal name change came next, followed by a grand opening ceremony in May 2022 with 12 River Siren beers on tap. Visitors today can expect a variety of beer styles, from the six core brands to seasonals and experimental one-offs. River Siren prides itself on using traditional methods of brewing blended with modern experimentation.

The new brewery transition went smoothly, other than pandemic-induced delays. Even with a remodel/update of the space, the brewery only closed for half a day during the transition. Just like the other breweries discussed, staff was retained, offering more pros than cons during the process. Brian admits meeting some resistance at times, but he feels it’s been in the best interests of River Siren so far. As one would expect, some customers miss specific recipes from their predecessor. But, like 612 and Two Fathoms (below), the business plan was always a brand new brewery. They kindly direct customers to beers similar in style or profile to Maple Island’s beers when they get those requests today.

River Siren defines their brewery as a destination experience. Come for the housemade beer, of course, but also take in the view and the local shops. Relax by the river and then bring home a memory (and a Crowler) from your outing.

They’re also connecting with their community, hosting the annual Sunshine Fest on June 22, which raises awareness for infant organ donation, a subject with deep personal meaning for the family-owned operation. 

River Siren Brewing, 225 Main St N, Stillwater, Minn., SUN 12-8pm, MON-THU 3-9pm, FRI-SAT 12-10pm


Island City Brewing chose its name because of Winona’s unique geography, nestled in the bluffs of The Driftless Area in the Mississippi River Valley. In a historic brick building that faces the Mississippi River and Winona’s Levee Park, the building highlights natural beauty and locally made beer. In late 2023 Graham Kaczmarek and Brook Merkwan purchased the facility and began the slow transition to Two Fathoms, which switched to the new name this month.

The partners had been planning a brewery for years, first considering starting from scratch with a new brewery. “Letting it happen naturally but deliberately was the priority,” says Graham, who has worked with Odell Brewing, Island City, Forager, and LaCrosse Distilling Co. previously. His connections and patience paid off when Island City’s ownership was ready to sell. 

The brewery has a strong connection to its community, and the partners saw opportunity with both its location and the strong community bonds. The longtime restaurant next door closed in 2020, but the property owners are planning a new development that will provide natural synergy between the brewery and a next-door restaurant, a “one-of-a-kind venue for this area,” Merkwan says. A large hotel is in development nearby, an added benefit that wasn’t in the business plan, they note, but is a welcome opportunity.

The appeal of this particular brewery was its connection to the community, Two Fathoms’s owners stress. And the rebrand approach retains the in-house staff, who are just as important as the beer itself. “By remaining open we can speak with the community,” says Merkwan. It has been slow, she notes, “Because beer does take time to make.” But also, it made the transition open and transparent. As general manager, Merkwan is a visible presence in the taproom through the change.

The transition to Two Fathoms has been gradual. On entering the brewery this winter I saw a modest note on the wall announcing the ownership change, which inspired this article. The brewery was cycling through Island City inventory, and began tapping their new recipes in February. It’s been a slow turnaround that has helped regulars adjust to change while also keeping their staff employed. 

Change is often hard for a community, but the transition has helped Two Fathoms to start their own chapter. “The biggest challenge, no doubt, is gaining people’s trust,” Kaczmarek says. It’s been a mix of reservation and excitement. It has “[allowed] the community to say goodbye to some of the beers they have come to enjoy and to toast a pint to what was.”

The new brewery is unveiling a fully new lineup. It’s possible old beers return as one-offs, Kaczmarek says, but with a Two Fathoms element to compliment the new business instead of serving nostalgia. Island City was canning and distributing their beer, but the primary focus for Two Fathoms is the Winona taproom, perhaps with limited local self-distribution. An added bonus to the slow rollout, Kaczmarek adds, is a stockpile of lagers to be released – something that brewing schedules in a small facility rarely accommodate during normal operations. 

Two Fathoms has also added an adjunct/dry-hop tank and plans to add more stackable tanks to increase brewery flexibility. By following the rebrand model, Two Fathoms aims to maintain strong community ties, from its skilled staff to its regular event schedule of trivia, Bingo, karaoke, and live music in Winona’s revamped river district. “During the rebrand we certainly took the time to honor the past but the time is now to start with a fresh slate, and a new name,” Graham concludes.

Two Fathoms Brewing, 65 East Front Street Winona, Minn., 507.961.5015, MON-TUE 3-7pm, WED 3-8pm, THU-SAT 12-11pm, SUN 12-6pm