Insight Brewing, largest start-up brewery in the state, opening this fall

Categories: Beer, Interview

InsightBeerPhotowithLogo.jpg

In some ways, the nascent Minnesota brew scene already feels a bit "been there, done that." Insight Brewing aims to change that perspective. Head brewer Ilan Klages-Mundt traveled the world, apprenticing and volunteering at breweries such as Fuller's (England), Kiuchi (Japan), and Fanø and Søgaards Bryghus (Denmark) to gain knowledge about the different ways beer can be brewed. His experience is decidedly global, and he and co-owners Brian Berge, Kevin Hilliard, and Eric Schmidt aim to transfer that knowledge from the fermenter to the pint glass right here in Minnesota.

The four are taking a risk, opening the largest start-up brewery in the state with a capacity of up to 40,000 barrels (or one-and-a-half-Surlys) though, of course, they're starting much smaller than that number in terms of actual production. The four recently started work on their brewery site just off Highway 280 on East Hennepin in Minneapolis. Their beers will pull from traditional styles, ranging from a 2.8 ABV session beer to barrel-aged and experimental styles much higher in alcohol.

Insight is also offering a Passport Club in limited supply. Members will pay $1,000 and receive $4,000 of beer in return. Shares can be split among groups and spent as shareholders see fit.

The overall goal of the company is to provide great beer to the community, of course, but with an additional insight into the wider world of brewing. Hot Dish met over some samples to discuss just what that entails as the brewery prepares for a fall opening.

See also:
Excelsior Brewing completes remodel, plans grand opening this weekend

Thumbnail image for InsightFounders.jpg
Photo courtesy of Insight Brewing
Insight's ownership group

Hot Dish: You've tried to set Insight apart by adopting a worldly perspective on brewing. How does that translate to your brewing style?

Ilan Klages-Mundt: I think I would say that we have traditional beers, but also some with a twist. For example, we have a beer called Lamb and Flag, an English premium bitter. I learned how to brew the style while working at Fuller's Brewery in London and, after falling in love with the complexity and nuances that come from such a low alcohol beer, I knew I had to replicate the traditional style for Insight.

We [also] have a beer called The Yuzu. It is a lightly hopped American pale ale brewed with Japanese yuzu fruit. While working in Japan, yuzu was used in many dishes. I could never find a true comparison of the unique flavors that I got out of the yuzu. Since I had a yuzu tree in my backyard, I decided I would brew up a batch of citrusy pale ale and add just enough yuzu fruit to add to the complexity of the hops, but not overpower them. In doing so, I created an incredibly unique and exciting flavor that I have not seen in any other beer to date.

You've also played around some with blending wine grapes and beer ingredients. Tell us more about that.

We have a beer that is really pushing the limits of what beer is, or can be: Saison de Blanc. It's blended with the sauvignon blanc wine grape, which adds a slightly sweet, grassy, and champagne-like character to the already fruity and spicy saison. Clocking in at 8.3% alcohol, this beer still has a delicate balance of flavors and finishes fairly dry.

You're starting out with a large facility. How much do you aim to produce in the beginning? What will you do with all of that space?

We are starting with a 19,300-square-foot building, and we will have a 5,400 bbl capacity right off the bat. Now, while we may have the capacity, I am not sure we will begin brewing that volume on day one. The reason we chose the size of building and brewing system that we did was because we watched too many other breweries in the area hit their capacity too soon and we did not want to run into the same wall. The growth of craft beer in Minnesota actually makes us the fastest growing state by volume, and we wanted to make sure that we were prepared for that growth if we were to encounter it. With our extra space, we will gladly use it as storage for now, but the size of our building should allow us to grow up to 40,000 bbls annually.

Tell us about your taproom.

The size of our taproom will be 3,000 square feet, one of the biggest in the state. We designed it in a way to create the experience of being in a brewery, but also feeling the comfort of a nice pub. I call it "comfortable industrial."

You chose a location close to other breweries. How important is proximity to other breweries in choosing a site?

While I like being close to other breweries, I didn't choose our location only for that reason. We were pretty strict when it came to building requirements because we needed a facility that would allow us to make beers the way we needed to make them. One requirement was that we had to be using Minneapolis water, because it is very low in mineral content and is some of the most pure water in the United States for a municipality. We also knew that we needed a building that was zoned to be a brewery, but was also close to residential neighborhoods.

I do think the community of breweries in Minneapolis only helps to expand the market for everyone. As more people learn about great beer, the more people we have drinking that beer.



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32 comments
brittalarson
brittalarson

Can't wait to try this new brewery.  I mean, beer + sav blanc grapes!?  YES!  Love seeing a continued trend and brewing growth! 

Alirox
Alirox

Hey Minneapolis City Councilfucks: Do you see what you have been sitting on after all these years with your blanket bans on craft and start-ups? Do you remember when you claimed that "poison beer" would be the result of breweries? You fucked-up Block E and you continue to fuck-up with your bans, cop-fellating and welfare for billionaires.

YOU'RE IN THE FUCKING WAY.

jon.dejong
jon.dejong

Having had the pleasure of sampling many of Insight's brews, I can say the only bad thing about this brewery is that it isn't open yet. 


The TC microbrew industry is booming, and this will be an exciting addition, raising out profile even more while giving us even more options -- not only in tap rooms, but on the shelf. 

TravisKing
TravisKing

I couldn't be more excited to taste The Yuzu. What hops are you planning on using for it?

Looking forward to opening day!

Renvar
Renvar

I think this is a great achievement and an inspiration to others. Even if you don't like beer or brewing, the fact that four people can follow their dreams and open up a unique business centered around doing something that gives them enjoyment is truly a great thing. I have had the privilege of biking through Belgium with the head brewer and know first hand that his knowledge and passion for beers is amongst the industries best. This is a real treat for the citizens of Minneapolis and hopefully, with time, the rest of us in the United States.


Cheers to all of you!

megandulgar
megandulgar

I would say that you're brave for taking the risk of stepping away from your jobs to realize this dream, but when your beer, your business plan and your overall product is this good, you really don't need to be brave.


Bravo, guys!  Can't wait for you to open!!!  

MNkid
MNkid

Great article. Great beer. Yuzu is going to be a hit. Looking forward to the taproom opening this fall! 


Oh, and brewing is most definitely an art. Takes an enormous amount of work to make a good beer. 

zer0crew
zer0crew

I've actually been able to sample a few Insight beers and I was convinced enough to buy a Passport Club membership. Lots of unique ingredients as well as new takes on some classic styles. Anyone who feels they can judge a brewery without ever tasting the beer is probably not a true fan of craft beer. Let's let the beer do the talking, not random internet trolls.

GingerMpls
GingerMpls

I'm psyched to see you guys incorporating some worldly INSIGHT into your brews!  Minnesota hasn't seen anything like this, even my lady friends who aren't big on beer will be intrigued...I imagine your tap house is going to be an awesome crowed!  

tony.hessburg
tony.hessburg

This new brewer sounds like they will be making some interesting beers - I can't wait to give them a try. More brewers with more types of beer is far from lame. It is about time Minneapolis gets a good beer scene.

digitalprotocol
digitalprotocol topcommenter

lame as fuck


there is already a brewery called indeed, now insight too


so sick of people jobs being brewing beer - that wont get you paid

digitalprotocol
digitalprotocol topcommenter

@Alirox we dont want any just any jerkoff bottling poison


if you think this is some magical market expansion, you are severely mislead. like craft brewers have any sort of effect on the local economy...

will.monson
will.monson

@digitalprotocol 


One of three scenarios that I see possible with you...


1) You're a troll. You're only looking to get a reaction out of people that are showing interest in something they care about.


2) You hate life. Negativity surrounds every aspect of your life, and you get enjoyment out of nothing (apart from spreading your negativity to others).


3) Both 1 & 2.


Whichever it is, I have a profound sense of pity for you.


I'm gonna go out on a limb, and assume it's leaning towards #2, and that a big part of it is your job. I can't even imagine how much your job sucks.


The fact that you can't stand that someone can make a living from doing something they love leads me to believe that you despise every moment spent on the clock.


And the fact that you don't view some professions (that take years, or even decades to master) as an artform, leads me to believe that you've never put an ounce of pride or dedication into your work. If you had, you might be able to understand what "art" is, in it's infinite variations and possibilities.

11int
11int

@digitalprotocol Brewing beer is an art. More breweries = more options. Competition drives innovation, and lots of people are excited for this brewery to open.

ilankm
ilankm

@digitalprotocol  My name is Ilan, and I am one of the founders of Insight. I'd like to offer you a personal tour of our building as well as a tasting of the Insight beer lineup. I spent a great deal of time traveling and learning about brewing cultures around the world, and I'd love to show you what Insight is all about! Let me know a time when you are free and I'll show you around! My e-mail is ilan @ insightbrewing.com

Cheers,Ilan

Symmetriad
Symmetriad

@digitalprotocol On the contrary, labor is integral to good art. How can one be a good artist without practice, without learning, without getting his fingers dirty in the guts of what he's doing? Relying on the whims of the muse is for flakes. Real artists get in there and slug away at it until they produce something excellent, and generally leave the corpses of a thousand old projects in their wake.

digitalprotocol
digitalprotocol topcommenter

@will.monson thanks detective, im gonna go with number 1. while my comments are earnest, the most pleasure comes from fools like you putting paragraphs together.


if you had bothered to read above you would see i expressed that "art" cant really  be defiined


yet we can examine its function and ask questions to determine if its really art. The function and utility of beer is intoxication. i would say that doesnt function as art.


thanks for telling us about your perceptions though. i never used the word artform because its stupid and generic, i simply said beer is not art


please tell me how beer is art...


i wish these dreamers luck, but i would never risk everything on a saturated market l\\  who knows maybe they took no risks

digitalprotocol
digitalprotocol topcommenter

@11int  making a flavored liquid is not art. You really think this is art? wow


a Budweiser label is art, but beer is not art

tcraine
tcraine moderator communitymanager

@digitalprotocol Sorry you don't care about beer. Some folks do. Please be respectful of others here.    


@ilankm Thanks for being a good sport. 

digitalprotocol
digitalprotocol topcommenter

@Symmetriad thats a not equal to sign, meaning labor does not equal art, art may equal labor but it is not inherent as you say

digitalprotocol
digitalprotocol topcommenter

@will.monson nice reasoning...so that means mpls tap water is art...


id like to hear from an art scholar


i would doubt these brewers claim it to be art

will.monson
will.monson

@digitalprotocol Your definition of art is skewed. Intoxication is a side effect, not its purpose.

The reason why people view it as art is because they get enjoyment out of it. Not just because it tastes good, but because someone has put forth years of study, passion, dedication and hard work to make it taste as great as they can make it taste.

digitalprotocol
digitalprotocol topcommenter

@11int perhaps plating food can be considered art. cooking food is not really art, under any historical definition. if chefs are artists why are they called chefs?


if beer is art, what is its function?

digitalprotocol
digitalprotocol topcommenter

@tcraine sorry to have spoiled your advertorial. 


beer brewing is a hobby, promoting it is passe 

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