Quality, craft beer marches west across Minnesota

MONTEVIDEO, Minn. -- Successful businesses know how to find a need in the market and fill it. Here's a big one: "There's a lack of quality craft beer in western Minnesota right now,'' said Nick Patton of Montevideo. He and partners John Skoglund ...

Business partners Nick Patton, from left, John Skoglund and Phil Zachman hoist their mugs to the 2016 opening of Talking Waters Brewing Company’ in downtown Montevideo. (Tom Cherveny / Forum News Service)

MONTEVIDEO, Minn. - Successful businesses know how to find a need in the market and fill it.

Here’s a big one: “There’s a lack of quality craft beer in western Minnesota right now,’’ said Nick Patton of Montevideo.

He and partners John Skoglund and Phil Zachman aim to correct that as soon as this spring.

That’s when they plan to open Talking Waters Brewing Company in downtown Montevideo. They are currently in the process of remodeling a building they purchased next door to Jake’s Pizza, which is owned by Zachman. The brewpub is also across the street from the Java River Cafe, which is owned by Patton and his spouse, Ashley Jo, a local dentist.

Craft breweries are opening across Minnesota at the fastest pace since the end of prohibition, according to The Growler, a trade industry newsletter. The Minnesota Craft Brewers Guild currently lists 89 member breweries and brewpubs in Minnesota. The Foxhole Brewhouse in Willmar and Goat Ridge Brewing Company in New London are among the new entries.


“It’s changing quickly here,’’ said Patton, explaining how the trend toward quality craft brewing is moving westward across the Minnesota prairie.

“The more the merrier,’’ Skoglund added. The successful launches of the New London and Willmar breweries have served to introduce more people to what makes craft breweries so popular, he explained.

Yes, it’s the beer. It was a shared love for home brewing that first led Patton and Skoglund to discuss the idea of opening a brewpub in Montevideo. They are now putting together a small-batch, five-barrel brewery to produce the beers their taproom will feature.

As a small craft brewery, they will have the freedom to experiment and offer a wide variety of beers through the course of a year, Patton said.

The partners plan to brew everything from blond ales to India pale ales, porters and stouts. They’re eager to introduce a wide variety of beers to western Minnesota taste buds long accustomed to the meek tasting stuff the big name breweries sell in cans.

“We will be doing flights of beer,’’ Skoglund said. Customers will have the option of trying smaller amounts of different beers to see what they like.

The partners are also quick to point out that the popularity of brewpubs is about much more than the beer.

“We want this place to be kind of a community living room where people can come and sit down and chat and have a conversation over good beer,’’ Patton said.


They intend to host occasional performances by local musicians in the brewpub. And, they will make the brewpub available for meetings and special events outside of its regular hours Wednesday through Saturday.

The goal of making this a place to gather and socialize is partly why they chose Talking Waters as its moniker. The phrase refers of course to the original name the Dakota gave to what is called Lac qui Parle Lake, or the “waters that speak.” The unique name also emphasizes the local identity of the business.

They will not sell food on site, but it will be welcome. Pizzas can be ordered from Jake’s Pizza next door. Sandwiches and other fresh-made goods from Java River or elsewhere can be brought in or delivered.

The three partners took on this business venture just over one year ago and have cleared a number of big hurdles. They worked with the city of Montevideo to develop the local ordinance and licensing to make a brewpub possible. They launched an Indiegogo crowdsourcing fund drive. They are offering early promotions and merchandise such as Tokheim stoneware mugs to build interest.

They credit Josh Reed and Kelly Asche of Goat Ridge Brewing Company with helping them navigate the steep learning curve that comes with opening what is a whole new type of business for western Minnesota. The Tribune has been unable to find any historical record of a brewery having ever been located in Montevideo or Chippewa County.

The partners said they remain focused on what this one is all about: They want “Talking Waters’’ to be known as a uniquely western Minnesota destination for quality, craft beer.

Meet the partners

Expect to see the three partners and their spouses carrying the load when the new business opens.


  • Nick Patton is a science instructor with the Montevideo Schools and a longtime home brewing enthusiast.
  • John Skoglund retired from a position as an account manager with Pioneer Hi-Bred, where he served for the past 28 years. A longtime home brewing enthusiast.
  • Phil Zachman is owner of Jake’s Pizza in Montevideo, which he has operated since November 2003. A relatively new but avid enthusiast of home brewing.
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