Local brewers discuss money, regulations and pairings with stout

Today, MPR’s Ground Level project and Minnesota Today hosted a lively chat among brewers, brew suppliers and beer fans on the current state of beer in Minnesota. The discussion lasted for an hour and a half and ran the gamut, from how local ingredients impact the flavor of microbrews to regulations that get in the way to how to build a customer base.

Guests included Tim Nelson from Fitger’s in Duluth, Dan Schwarz from Lift Bridge in Stillwater and Julia Herz from the Brewers Association in Boulder, Colorado. But we had many more people participate.

When asked why the beer industry is thriving here when other industries are struggling, Tina Hanke from Bemidji Brewing had this to say: “Craft beer is an affordable ‘luxury’ item–even in a bad economy, folks are willing to pay the $5 that gets you a great pint.”

Participants also discussed how to build a successful brewery. Start-up money is key and usually comes from savings or friends and family. Sweat equity was mentioned, too. Good beer is the primary ingredient, though. Carey Matthews from Summit Brewing summed up the formula this way: “Great local products, real people behind them, and affordable prices.”

Partway through the chat, food writer Dara Moskowitz Grumdahl chimed in and prompted a wave of suggested beer and food pairings, like chocolate porters with dessert and bacon with brown ales.

The discussion was part of our “One Job at a Time” series on entrepreneurship. Here it is, in its entirety.

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