Arte, fútbol, y cervezas: the city’s only “Latin influenced” brewery has officially opened

 The taproom at La Dõna Cerveceria was bustling just a few weeks after a soft opening of the North Minneapolis brewery.

The taproom at La Dõna Cerveceria was bustling just a few weeks after a soft opening of the North Minneapolis brewery.

La Doña Cervecería brings soccer, salsa, and a 10,000 sq ft taproom to Harrison neighborhood. 

By Kenzie O'Keefe | Photos by David Pierini

Filled with colorful calavera murals and Spanish-speaking staff members, La Doña Cervecería stands out from the crowd of Twin Cities breweries. 

For one thing, the brand new brewery is open seven days a week and late on weekends (1am). It also hosts dance nights and is home to both an art gallery and an boxed-turf outdoor soccer field.

 Sergio Manancero, right, started the brewery and made his first important hire in head brewer, Dickie Lopez, who has brewing experience with three Twin Cities craft breweries.

Sergio Manancero, right, started the brewery and made his first important hire in head brewer, Dickie Lopez, who has brewing experience with three Twin Cities craft breweries.

“The first night we had a DJ here. There were people I’ve never seen in breweries before–Latin people, African American people, hipster bikers. You never see all those people in the same place,” said owner Sergio Manancero.

Manancero, whose family is Uruguayan, began envisioning his beer brand turned brewery after he returned from the Marine Corps in 2013. He started with one Mexican-style lager (Doña Chela) while he was a full-time college student at the University of Minnesota. Business quickly boomed. “We had 60 accounts in eight weeks,” he said. 

Manancero attributes much of his success to filling a void. “The craft brewery scene is blowing up in Latin America and there was no representation of that here,” he said. “I wanted to infuse the craft beer culture with Latin identity.”

After looking all over the Twin Cities for possible brewery locations, the La Doña team landed at 241 Fremont Ave. N. “We had a total blank canvas that we could do whatever we wanted in,” said Manancero.

La Doña shares their building with a new, soon-to-be-open distillery, and Manancero says their landlord has talked about opening a food hall next door. He hopes La Doña will attract other restaurants and bars to the area, which he describes as a “kind of a dead zone” for those types of businesses currently. 

More than anything, Manancero wants La Doña to be a community gathering place. “I’m happy to put a spotlight on this part of the community and be a place where the community can come hang out,” he said. Though it officially opened on Oct. 20, the brewery has been quietly open for weeks, serving beers at the bar and hosting events. Irene Fernando, a Harrison neighborhood resident and Hennepin County Commissioner candidate for District 2, plans to host her election night watch party there. 

 Yoni Debesai, left, Bobby Pyne and Seun Adenusa clinked glasses in a toast as they enjoyed the beer and friendship on a recent Friday night.

Yoni Debesai, left, Bobby Pyne and Seun Adenusa clinked glasses in a toast as they enjoyed the beer and friendship on a recent Friday night.

“I want this to be a neighborhood bar for people who live in the neighborhood,” said Manancero, who invites his patrons to bring their own dinner to the taproom while they enjoy their beers. 

Making their patrons feel at home is core to the cervecería’s brand. Its namesake, La Doña, is a nod to Hispanic feminine hospitality. “It gave it this matriarchy, the person who invites you into their home, gives you a cold beer; it’s comforting,” he said.

A statue of La Doña by artist Kordula Coleman sits on an altar in the center of the brewery. “You can bring pictures of your family members that are deceased. People can leave little trinkets behind,” said Manancero. “We like that interaction point.”

Learn more at www.dameladona.com.

Kenzie O'Keefe