Joe Giambruno Previews Bad Weather Brewing’s Five-Day Halloween Weekend

Bad Weather Brewing co-founder Joe Giambruno at his taproom in St. Paul, Minnesota

When I asked Bad Weather Brewing Company co-founder Joe Giambruno for a bad weather story, he took me back a little over 10 years ago. He and his now wife, Logan, were trekking through Europe on a shoestring budget. They wanted to visit Croatia, but doing so took a little sacrifice.

“We were booking hostels at Internet cafes,” says Giambruno. “We thought, ‘If we rent a car, we won’t have to pay for a hostel because we could just pull over and sleep in the car.'”

He called that night of the worst of his life. One of them was trying to sleep in the passenger seat, the other in the back seat, and the temperatures were not cooperating.

“People kept coming out in the middle of the night to see what was going on,” he says, “and we couldn’t speak to each other. They’re wondering why we’ve got sleeping bags in the car. Every 10 minutes I had to turn the car on for the heat.”

The Bad Weather Brewing taproom, to use a quote from Grey’s Anatomy, looks like Halloween threw up in there today. Any place a bloody face or zombie figurine could be set, one is set. Any place from which you could hang a gigantic sheet ghost, there is a sheet ghost. A zombie hangs from the rafters over the brewhouse. In one corner, two aliens are locked in what looks like a fridge. At their 7th Street taproom in St. Paul, they’re not taking this holiday lightly.

Bad Weather set a mighty high bar for themselves back in spring, when they built an arcade in their parking lot for a three-day gaming bender. This time, they’re taking Halloween and making it Halloweeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee … and so on, for five days, Friday to Tuesday. It’s all hands on deck at Bad Weather, with The Beer Dabbler sending in reinforcements.

Beers and Fears, they call it.

With a docket as thick as this one, it’s hard to pick out a headline event. The haunted house-type exhibition, for which haunted house pro Ed Johnson consulted? The dog costume contest Saturday, for which Chuck and Don’s has got $750 in prizes to unload? The pumpkin painting on Sunday’s family-friendly day, or maybe the pony rides in the parking lot scheduled that day? You read that correctly: pony rides. Perhaps the DJ, or something called Chicken Shit Bingo? You’ll have to decide.

“It’s going to be a lot of fun, and all this stuff is free,” says Giambruno. “It’s free to come in. The face-painting, the pony rides, all the games are free. You want a beer, though, we’ll still charge you for that.”

A scarecrow is on display outside the Bad Weather Brewing taproom in St. Paul, Minnesota

About that. Just as they’ve got all hands on deck, Giambruno and team have loaded the tap roster with everyday favorites, past releases that have been hiding in barrels, and some new beers.

The headliner is a new and improved Calamity. It’s the second year of this Russian imperial stout, and Giambruno says brewers Andy Ruhland and Christian Breitbarth nailed the recipe even harder than last year. This year, oak spirals and more malt were added. Oh, and it’s 12-percent alcohol by volume. If you need to sleep in your car, that might be a good one to snuggle into beforehand.

“They were a lot more prepared for doing a big beer like this,” says Giambruno. “I really like this batch, compared to last year’s. I think it’s about as balanced as you want a Russian imperial stout to be.”

Joining Calamity on tap will be Ominous, a double brown ale, a winter seasonal showing up two months early but right on time; Anomaly, a variation of the Puckerface sour that debuted at this year’s Pride Dabbler, this time infused with peach and apricot; the wee heavy, Cauld Weather; and Due Date, an English barleywine whipped up to celebrate the birth of co-founder Zac Carpenter’s second child.

By now, you know the Bad Weather story. Carpenter and Giambruno had both home-brewed previously, but they paired Giambruno’s microbiology and genetics background with Carpenter’s previous experience in the financial sector and turned it into a business plan. Bad Weather Brewing officially launched in 2013, working in Lucid Brewing’s old space in Minnetonka before securing their own place in 2015. It’s been a whirlwind ever since.

The Bad Weather name originates from a nickname the Carpenter family coined for themselves after a prolonged gag played on them by Mother Nature.

“It was either raining hard, snowing, or windy [on brew days],” says Giambruno, “so they called themselves the Bad Weather Brewers, and it stuck.”

On October 9, 2015, Bad Weather Brewing opened their taproom on 7th Street in St. Paul. It’s a healthy walk from the XCel Energy Center, but the taproom now offers shuttles there for Minnesota Wild home games. The Wild play two home games during Beers and Fears: Saturday, against the Pittsburgh Penguins; and Tuesday night, against the Winnipeg Jets.

Other events include live T-shirt printing, mouse racing, and face painting. DJ TIIIIIIIIP will be on hand Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights; and Trivia Mafia will be hosting a Halloween-themed trivia session Monday night. A complete list of events can be found on the Bad Weather website.

“[We thought] Halloween is on Tuesday this year,” says Giambruno. “Why are we shutting it down on Sunday? Let’s keep it going.”


RELATED: The weekend Bad Weather Brewing’s taproom opened was the same day as the Minnesota Wild home opener and the first Minnesota Rollergirls bout that year. I was on 7th Street for all of it.