A beer boom is underway in Minnesota. Thanks in part to a recent law that allows breweries to sell beer for drinking on the premises, scores of brewing operations have sprung up around the state.
Two Minnesota brewers joined the Daily Circuit to talk about the beer boom. Some highlights:
Mark Stutrud, Summit Brewing, on beer drinkers:
"There really has been a generational shift, where newer drinkers and established beer drinkers are starting to search out flavor and they're much more savvy in terms of what flavors should and should not be in beer."
Ryan Petz, Fulton Beer, on market saturation:
"There could be a saturation point out there, but I think we're a long way from it. As long as ... the quality of the beer is high, I think there's a lot more growth to be had. ... There is a fair debate to be had on how much continued expansion there can be, but I'm fairly confident and we're banking on the fact that craft beer isn't going away anytime soon."
Stutrud on the economics of beer:
"We still have those who are pretty romantically involved in the lifestyle that are running into the industry, and they're enamored and wrapped up with wanting to be a brewer so strongly that sometimes the business and quality issues come later. ... Certainly, the taproom legislation that occurred to allow small brewers to have on-site retail businesses really allows a very nice amount of cash flow. Which can really set the stage for a brewer to continue to be in business and then plan their strategy of growth. ...
"It is manufacturing, after all, and it's also a type of manufacturing that's extremely capital-intensive. When you scale up, you find yourself spending more money than you ever imagined in your life ... we've invested over $40 million. It's not for the faint of heart. ...
"I've been a nonconformist and a rebel, and now after 28 years of brewing beer, all of a sudden I'm part of the establishment."