The makers of the award-winning Morning Wood coffee stout, Big Wood Brewery, clearly don't take themselves too seriously. But there's more to the name than a double entendre. Big Wood's origins tie to owner Steve Merila's past in the wood flooring industry, where he began brewing beers on the side to perk up the spirits of struggling contractors during the economic downturn. That brewing hobby took root, Merila teamed up with Jason Medvec and Ty McBee, and Big Wood was a growing entity... so to speak.
Medvec, who has a background in advertising and also moonlights as the Marketing Committee Chair on the Minnesota Craft Brewer's Guild, epitomizes the ongoing question in the industry: How to establish a strong craft beer market in general while simultaneously focusing on the growth of his own company.
The start-up White Bear Lake brewery has three regular beers in their stable along with a rotation of "Randomly Brewed Beers" -- beers that are similar to seasonal rotations at other breweries, but in styles that are not necessarily tied to the time of year, such as their Bad Axe (double IPA) and Forest Fire (smoke imperial rye). Big Wood hopes to open their taproom to the public this winter. The Hot Dish called up co-owner Medvec to chat about their start-up, taproom construction, and how Big Wood separates itself from its peers.
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