Black Paws Brewing Company, the city’s first craft brewery, opens in Devils Lake – Grand Forks Herald

DEVILS LAKE — Black Paws Brewing, Devils Lake’s first craft brewery, quietly opened on Friday, July 8. Owner Jeb Oehlke opened the downtown brewery with the goal of bringing something new to Devils Lake, but not just new types of beer.

“It’s a different place than any other place,” he said. “Just the atmosphere in the building when you walk in and sit down – it’s just a really cozy and relaxing place.”

After a busy opening weekend, Oehlke got down to business with a variety of craft beers from regional breweries and familiar flavors like Coors Light while its first batch of house beers finished brewing and waited to be brewed. barreling.

Eventually, he hopes to fill 14 of his 24 taps with his own beer. The first will be his house signature, the “Black Paws Alt”, which he describes as a traditional German-style altbier.

Non-alcoholic beverage options include pour-over coffee and Italian sodas. In the future, he plans to make his own syrups for craft sodas like root beer, cream soda and ginger beer.

For food, Oehlke is still working on securing kitchen equipment, so initially the menu is limited to frozen pizzas, but he hopes to add options like panini sandwiches, fresh flatbread pizzas and soft pretzels. .

Before opening the brewery, Oehlke ran a law firm in Devils Lake.

“I knew I didn’t want to practice law forever, but I didn’t really know what I wanted to do,” he said.

He had been brewing at home since 2010 and had considered starting a brewery with friends in Bismarck, but the plans never materialized. He decided to take the plunge himself, closing his law firm and taking a job at the Ranch Steakhouse in Devils Lake while building his brewery.

The construction of the brewery started in November 2019 and took longer than Oehlke had originally expected.

“I think everything went well,” he said. “Maybe I could have opened it in eight or nine months like I originally hoped, but it certainly wouldn’t be the beautiful space it is.”

Most of the work was done by Oehlke and his father, with the help of around 50 volunteers over more than two years of construction. Many of the building’s furnishings were made by Oehlke from recycled materials, such as tables made from wood from bowling alleys and wine barrels for table bases. Oehlke says it adds to the unique look of the space, and the materials were cheaper than buying new.

“I probably spent all that money during the time we ended up spending on refinishing them and doing epoxy and everything, but I have a brewery that you just won’t find like that,” a- he declared. .

Jeb Oehlke, owner of Black Paws Brewing Company in Devils Lake, takes a moment to discuss the early days of the pub, just before the evening crowds arrived on Wednesday July 13, 2022.

Korrie Wenzel / Herald of Grand Forks

The building is about 7,000 square feet, Oehlke says.

The name and sign of the Black Paws Brewing Company pay homage to a breed of dog beloved by the Oehlke family, the Newfoundland. Oehlke’s father was one of the founding members of a local search and rescue team in Devils Lake and got the family’s first Newfoundland puppy when Oehlke was in high school due to search and rescue abilities. rescue of the breed. Since then, Oehlke’s parents have owned four others of the breed, and now Oehlke has his own.

“It’s kind of a salute to this breed and all the dogs we’ve had,” he said.

The logo is based on a photo of his dog Wrigley, and outside the brewery is a statue of the same dog.

The soft opening on July 8 marked the start of operations for Black Paws Brewing Company, and it already boasts loyal customers. The Crane family, visiting Devils Lake from Colorado, was there for the second time on Wednesday July 13 and planned to return before leaving town.

“Even we living in Colorado knew this place was coming and we were looking forward to it,” said John Crane III. “We are happy to have something new and fresh for the community.”

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