5 Alarm Brewery Co. to open in Lake Mills

Published 8:00 pm Wednesday, September 27, 2017

LAKE MILLS — Don’t put off tomorrow what you can do today.

While the saying is attributed to Benjamin Franklin, it might as well be the motto of four Lake Mills men who went from joking about opening a brewery after they retired to being on the verge of opening its doors in a time frame of approximately six months.

“It just kind of happened over a couple nights, over beer, where all the best ideas come from,” Jason Peterson said.

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Peterson had been sharing some of his home brew with his friends and fellow firemen Ross Hanson, Nathan Ostrander and Jim Boehmer.

“Jason started doing it as a hobby, and to be honest, he really started to perfect his craft to the point where we would get together as friends and he would share what he had been doing,” Boehmer said.

A few weeks later, a building came up for sale and Peterson reached out to his buddies to go look at it. They didn’t buy that property, but they settled on the third location they looked at with a real estate agent. A complete renovation job started soon after the building closed on July 6 to turn a former clothing store into 5 Alarm Brewing Co.

“We had the cart in front of the horse,” Hanson said. “We knew what we wanted, but we had no plan whatsoever.”

They came to a few conclusions soon after, though.

5 Alarm Brewery Co. will feature a variety of craft beer made on site. – Kelly Wassenberg/Albert Lea Tribune

“Our goal right from the start was to try to compliment Lake Mills’ Main Street and so we want to work with the restaurants,” Boehmer said. “And we didn’t want to do something that would start competition, but created more enthusiasm for Main Street.”

For that reason, Ostrander said the brewery will not be selling hard liquor or other drinks you can buy at other establishments in town. He said the focal point of their brewery will be beer Peterson has made onsite. They intend to have three to four flagship beers each month while four to five other taps will be rotated. They also plan to feature a tap cider and other guest taps from other breweries in the area.

Peterson started making brew from kits before creating his own recipes. He has about 40 personal recipes at this time, which range in flavor all depending on the hops, grains, fruits and other ingredients he uses. This should offer patrons plenty of variety.

Guests will also be allowed to have food delivered or bring in their own takeout food if they wish.

The men are working towards receiving all the required licenses they need to open by Thanksgiving. They  then plan to have the brewery open on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays to begin with.

Among all the laughter, Peterson, Ostrander and Hanson, who have known each other since they were children, and Boehmer, who taught the men when they were in high school, still took time to express their gratitude ahead of the business’ opening.

“We can’t thank the city chamber of commerce enough, without them and without Winn-Worth Betco, this wouldn’t be possible,” Hanson said. “They’re there to help out small business and to get things like this going, and we hope that the money they borrowed us to get this going will in turn bring people into town to help the rest of the businesses. That is what small towns are all about.”

“Those in the community have helped immensely just to make sure we could get what we needed,” Boehmer said. “And I think their vision is our vision. If we can continue to make sure there is nowhere to park in this town on Thursday, Friday, Saturday — and let’s make that Sunday, too — everybody benefits. Lake Mills is a destination community, and rightly so in my opinion.”

Boehmer then named off a long list of businesses that give the small town its appeal before the others joined in with the names of people who work behind the scenes to ensure the town continues to thrive despite its small size.

With the community’s support, the men expect the brewery to do well. If not, they should be capable of putting out any fires that arise. Three out of the four have direct business experience while the other not only teaches, but coaches as well.

To learn more about 5 Alarm Brewing Co. follow them on their Facebook page.