Ward House

In the small town of Waseca, beer drinkers can now find a small taproom to match. Ward House is a 1-barrel brewery, which is strikingly petite relative to other Minnesota breweries.

The size and system work well for John Mansfield, the owner and brewer. He built out the taproom, system, and bar himself. Now, he gets to relish in the flexibility of regularly brewing new beer on his own schedule (while listening to traditional Irish music).

I enjoyed a flight of John’s beer, which included:

  • Kolsch—6.4%
  • Belgian Abbey—6.2%
  • IPA—5.8%
  • Stout—6.2%

After a desk-based career and a busy life in St. Paul, I think John seems to have his priorities figured out in Waseca. He and his wife moved their handful of kids to a town where they can bike to school from their old Victorian home. I imagine it to be something like Cheaper By The Dozen. Now, he works with his hands building the taproom, brewing craft beer, and serving his community. Not bad, eh?

When I asked John for advice, he told me: “Expect nothing; give always. Back when I expected something, I was always mad because I didn’t get it. I realized I should expect nothing and do the right thing anyway.”

John seems to have done some hardcore soul searching because letting go of ego and expectation is hella hard and something I’ve never been good at.

I recently saw a quote that I hope to keep in mind in my future travels: “With sufficient planning, you can almost eliminate adventure from an expedition” Roald Asmussen. Rolling with the punches makes an adventure feels far more…adventurous.

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