We started homebrewing together in 2006 in Jim's one-car garage. Our first brew was on a -20 degree February day. As we huddled around a turkey burner (both for warmth and because the garage was so small) we talked about how cool it would be to brew beer for a living.
A few weeks later when we tasted our first beer, the decision whether we knew it yet or not was made: someday, we would build our own brewery."
Over evenings and weekend during the next few months, we built a three vessel all-grain brewery capable of 10 gallon batches. Before long, we were pushing the limits of Jim's one-car garage, so we moved to Pete's two-car garage. Our beers got better and better, and we started to research the business side of brewing.
Then, in early 2009, an opportunity presented itself. Ryan was looking for an internship, but having absolutely no luck. Suddenly, the "what if" discussions were no longer hypothetical, and we starting having "we could" conversations instead. Before long, we sat down (around homebrews, of course) and decided this was our chance to make our hobby into a career.
In retrospect, it seems crazy. We had no money, no industry experience, and no connections. Ryan and Jim were both in debt up to their ears from graduate school. Peter and his wife were expecting their first child. Ryan had just gotten married, and Brian and Jim were both getting married later that year. Logically, it made no sense. All we had was passion and some good homebrew recipes.
By fall 2009, we'd formed our business, scraped together as much money as we could, landed a distributor, and found a contract brewery. We started brewing at Sand Creek Brewing Company in Black River Falls, Wisconsin.
Scaling our Sweet Child of Vine recipe from 10 gallons to 620 was nerve-wracking, but three weeks later when we tapped the first keg, we knew we were onto something. We served our first keg at The Happy Gnome on October 28, 2009."
Over the next year, local bars kept demanding our beer, so we kept brewing it. We still didn't have any money (brewing is, unfortunately, not a get-rich-quick business), but we knew this was our opportunity to build the Minneapolis brewery we dreamt up four years earlier in Jim's garage.
We signed the lease for our Minneapolis brewery in September 2010, and we brewed our first batch just about a year later. In March 2012, we opened the first brewery taproom in the Twin Cities. A lot of people say we're "living the dream." We're not sure if it's that exactly, because none of us dreamt of 18 hour days, caustic burns, tiny office spaces, and massive loans. But what we do know is this: we do get to wake up every day and work on our passion.
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