Beer maker Nathan Berndt: Brewing "the Indeed way" in Northeast
Scott Cohen Indeed's two flagship beers: Day Tripper Pale Ale and Midnight Ryder American Black Ale.
There's no doubt about it, the Minnesota brew scene is booming. Indeed Brewing Company, which first opened its doors last winter, was the first brewery in northeast Minneapolis. Now there are three. The Hot Dish caught up with co-owner Nathan Berndt to talk about the company he helped found with longtime friends and fellow University of Minnesota alums Rachel Anderson and Tom Whisenand. After years of home brewing, the three former Minnesota Daily photojournalists took the leap into the business side of brewing, recruiting the Town Hall Brewery veteran Josh Bischoff to join in as head brewer at their 12,000-square-foot brewery, complete with a taproom and seasonal patio. The brewery has started with grand ambitions, with higher capacity potential than many other start-ups and a fully operational in-house canning line.
With two full-time staff and seven part-timers (in addition to the three co-founders), Indeed has an abundance of projects in the works. For beers, they are working on Hotbox, a collaboration with Northbound Smokehouse Brewpub that uses smoked frenso and jalapeno peppers from Northbound in an Imperial Smoked Porter, and Burr Grinder, a joint project with local coffee roaster Dogwood Coffee. Indeed has also scheduled a beer dinner with Heavy Table and Red Stag to benefit the Youth Farm Market. As the company grows, The Hot Dish wanted to know about the company's philosophy and Berndt's take on the local brew scene.
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Scott Cohen Indeed head brewer, Josh Bischoff, checks in on a mash while brewing a beer.
The Hot Dish: Where did the Indeed name originate?
Nathan Berndt: We contemplated what we would name our brewery for quite some time while writing our business plan. We'd brainstorm for days and weeks. When we'd find a name we liked, we'd do the due diligence on the availability of it. We'd often find out the name was already in use by someone or it had already been registered with the state. Just before we decided to take a break from the naming process, someone, I think it was Tom, threw out the name "Indeed." At the time, we weren't sure about it as a name. After finalizing our business philosophy and mission, the name just seem to fit with our company and brand we are trying to create. We want to first create beer of undeniable quality, while at the same time embracing a mindful and adventurous approach to life. The word, "indeed," is an affirmation of this mindset that guides our company.
HD: You found the building through an email from your now landlord. What brought you to Northeast and, now that you're there, how does it reflect the Indeed brand?
Berndt: We knew early on that we wanted to create an urban brewery and brand that reflected the qualities and lifestyles associated with it. We all enjoy going out to listen to music, being active, and appreciate the many cultural and recreational activities in Minneapolis and St. Paul. Personally, Northeast was never on my radar as a location for our brewery--I envisioned somewhere near Highway 280 and University Avenue, or along the Minneapolis Greenway. After our real-estate broker arranged a meeting at a different Northeast location, we started to investigate the area. We met many artists, business people, and community members. Everyone was so welcoming and inviting. From then on, the only place we wanted to be was Northeast, which then led us to the Solar Arts Building. At Indeed, we want to build a very strong community, and in doing so, you need a support group to help. That group is the people that live in Northeast, because we've seen that they support each other.
HD: Any early hints about what's in store come Art-A-Whirl?
Berndt: Nothing set in stone, but we are thinking of releasing a couple beers that weekend: one seasonal and one specialty.
HD: Your brewing focuses on the bold and adventurous, both in terms of beer flavors and through lifestyle. How do you feel Indeed brews tie in to the "adventurous lifestyle" world? How does beer and an activity, like cycling, connect?
Berndt: We want to brew beers that people want to drink but also beers we want to make. Beers like Day Tripper Pale Ale and Midnight Ryder American Black are examples of hoppy beers that people in this market really want to drink right now. We consider beers like Sweet Yamma Jamma, which is brewed with sweet potatoes and yams, or Stir Crazy, which is brewed with pulverized raisins and brown sugar, and Old Friend, which is brewed with ginger root and honey, to be "adventurous" because we are using untraditional ingredients in our beers. We want people to seek and experience new things in life, be it through recreational sports, travel, or even simple as trying a new food. Adventure has a broad definition in this sense.
For us at Indeed, we often reflect on these experiences afterward while enjoying a beer at the end of long day's hike or bike ride, while on a beach, or even in our own backyard for a barbecue. For us the best mode for this is in a 12-ounce can because of its ease of transport, but also its ability to keep beer fresh. And it's easier to share a six-pack with friends.
HD: There's an overwhelming positivity in your literature. Is that a reflection of the ownership's personality, or more of a philosophy on beer and business?
Berndt: The word "indeed" is in itself somewhat of a positive term. We use it as way of affirmation, or our stamp of approval. I think we are all pretty positive people, so I think it is a reflection of both our personality and philosophy of our business. We often ask ourselves if something is the "Indeed way" when making business decisions. If not, then we know what the answer is moving forward.
Scott Cohen Thomas Whisenand, Rachel Anderson, Josh Bischoff, and Nathan Berndt.
HD: The Minnesota/Twin Cities scene has been quite active lately. As one of the newcomers to the scene, what is your overall impression of the current growth?
Berndt: The craft beer growth in Minnesota is phenomenal, and we are ecstatic to be part of the movement. The more local breweries the better, because it raises awareness.
Minnesota is becoming a craft beer mecca like Oregon, Colorado, and Southern California. Local beer is fresher, and it also helps support the economy by creating more jobs.
HD: Do you think the scene will slow down or stabilize soon, or is the Twin Cities beer culture just taking off?
Berndt: The Minnesota beer scene is definitely just taking off, thanks to breweries like Summit and Surly blazing the trail and creating awareness that there is a market for locally produced craft beer. Prior to Prohibition, there were breweries in every town or neighborhood.
What's been great about the growth of breweries in Minnesota is that each one is different in their own sense. This allows for more growth without saturating the market. At some point, the growth will slow and/or some breweries will fade, but that could be tied to one brewery's lack of quality or consistency in its product.
HD: What are some of your favorite beers from outside of Minnesota?
Berndt: My taste in beer is a journey, it's constantly evolving. I really enjoy American Pale Ales, but 10 years ago all I drank were IPAs. Personally, one of my favorite breweries is Odell in Fort Collins. They have both great beers and brand identity. But other breweries of the moment I like are beers by Green Flash in San Diego, Three Floyds in Indiana, and Half Acre in Chicago, which, by no mistake, make amazing pale ales.