MN Beer Activists: Sunday Sales Fight Is Like David vs. Goliath

Photo courtesy of Minnesota Beer Activists
Andrew Schmitt and his son at the March 15 Capitol event

Our alcohol laws are outdated, and a 2013 poll shows Minnesotans agree: It's embarrassing when we have to tell Wisconsin visitors that we'll need to stockpile beer on Saturday night.

Local consumer advocacy group MN Beer Activists has been working tirelessly to change that. After a recent Capitol rally cry, we caught up with founder Andrew Schmitt to talk about his inspiration, his motivation, and why he keeps fighting for progressive alcohol laws year after year.

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Minnesota Beer Activists fight for your drinking rights

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The Gentleman Forager Wants to Put a Blindfold on You and Guide You Into the Woods

Categories: Q&A

The Gentleman Forager

They peek out of decay and dead places; alive, blush pink and demure as virgin fairies. They're craggy, gray, and ugly as rocks, but look again -- their hundreds of finger-like tendrils are shocking pink as sea coral.

Whispers of feathers threaten to blow apart, precarious as dandelion seeds. They nestle together, lemon-drop yellow, straight off of an anime screen. They're frightening, like something out of a Tim Burton movie.

They manifest as dead ringers for seashells, chickens, lampshades, trumpets, champagne coupes, Kentucky Derby Hats, sea urchins, genitalia, hoola hoops, and hedgehogs.

What else could we be talking about but mushrooms? Their variations are about as many and varied as strands of human DNA -- no two exactly alike.

On his website, the Gentleman Forager, otherwise known as Mike Kempenich, has included these words from Confucious:

"Everything has beauty, but not everyone sees it."

We see it.

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The Forager Chef on mushroom hunting and almost poisoning himself [VIDEO]

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Newcomer Pryes Brewing on Brewery/Taproom Plans and What Makes a Beer Creative

Categories: Beer, Q&A


Earlier this month, Pryes Brewing (pronounced "prize") hit local bars and restaurants with flagship beer Miraculum IPA, a citrus, hoppy take on the popular style that originated in England. The brewery is located in Minnetonka, sharing space and equipment with Lucid in what has been termed an "alternating proprietorship," a unique arrangement where Lucid and other breweries share the business needs while getting established. Space in the building opened up when Lucid's partners, Badger Hill and Bad Weather Brewing announced plans for their own breweries and taprooms.

The partnership is a perfect fit for Pryes, which was originally scouting buildings in the Lyn-Lake neighborhood before zoning restrictions (being too close to a school) caused the brewery to reconsider that plan. They've settled into Minnetonka and are now on tap across town at locations such as Butcher & the Boar, Pat's Tap, and Mac's Industrial.

The Hot Dish spoke with co-founder and chief marketing officer Benjamin Schuster to get a feel for what makes Pryes beer different in a rapidly shifting marketplace.

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Pryes Brewing's Miraculum is a Citrusy, Dry-Hopped Minnesota IPA

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LTD Brewing on small-batch brewing, setting up shop in Hopkins, and fruit beers

Categories: Beer, Q&A

photo courtesy of LTD Brewing Co.

Jeremy Hale and Blake Verdon are former home brewers living their dream in Hopkins. The two opened LTD Brewing Co. last month (LTD stands for Live the Dream), and they've been busy brewing small-batch beers and connecting with the community ever since. The two plan a smaller brewing approach with a rotating lineup of a few staples but also leaving room for experimentation and variation coming from their 8bbl system.

Starting out with taproom-only sales and aiming to feel out demand before expanding to bottles and cans, the two are enjoying their new business while always keeping an eye toward the future. Right now they have six beers on tap, but have capability for 12 and are thinking about adding casks and barrel-aged beers when the time is right.

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Urban Growler in St. Anthony Park: "We are the new Northeast"

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Excelsior Brewing completes remodel, plans grand opening this weekend

Categories: Beer, Q&A

Photo courtesy of Excelsior Brewing

Excelsior Brewing Co., located in the city of same name just west of Minneapolis, has recently expanded, tripling in square footage and increasing production capacity remarkably. The new digs include a larger taproom, a new 12-ounce bottling line, and room to grow. Previously the company was pushing its limits on production, squeezing a cozy taproom into a tight space -- up close and personal with the brewing equipment. The new taproom has increased from a capacity of 75 to 200, and the brewery is planning a new beer garden come summer.

Hot Dish spoke with Jennifer T. Johnson, senior brand manager at the brewery, to see where Excelsior is going now there is so much more capacity for production. They will be celebrating a grand opening of the new taproom on Saturday, May 24 with bands and, of course, plenty of beer.

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Mantorville Brewing on the state of the beer industry: "This thing's going all local"

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Mantorville Brewing: "Small breweries have to be a bit more creative"

Categories: Beer, Q&A

Loren Green
Stagecoach's soon-to-change packaging

Taprooms in the Twin Cities have been getting a lot of attention in the past few years, but Minnesota's brewing industry has much deeper roots. Breweries large and small are tucked away in areas that haven't captivated yet the metro's interests -- despite decades spent in the brewing business.

Mantorville Brewing, located in the small town of the same name (population 1,197) and just over an hour plus south of St. Paul, is one such brewery. Started in 1996, the brewery shares its name with the town's historic brewery that closed in 1939. Mantorville has three flagship beers -- an amber, a porter, and a golden -- and both the amber and the smoked porter were the first of their style to be brewed in Minnesota in the 1990s.

Current owner and brewer Tod Fyten has been in the industry since the 1980s. Before running his own brewery, he ran a brewing trade journal and worked with Leinenkugel's, James Page, and more industry stalwarts. He currently owns three microbreweries (St. Croix, Fytenburg, and Mantorville) and, behind the scenes, he's had a hand in most of the brewing industry's legislative victories in the past twenty years. He is currently at work on new packaging for all his six-packs, expected this summer on liquor store shelves.

The Hot Dish sat down at Fyten's St. Paul office to discuss his breweries, why Mantorville Brewing is often called Stagecoach Brewing, and his brewing experience in the '80s and '90s. Below is part one of the interview, focused on Mantorville Brewing. Stay tuned for part two, looking back on the 1990s brew boom and bust.

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Lake Superior Brewing on the Duluth brew scene: "The place is hopping"

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Four Firkins specialty beer store launches fundraiser to open second location

Categories: Beer, Q&A

photo courtesy of Four Firkins
The crowds at the grand opening in 2011.

It's easy to get caught up in the excitement over the Northeast Brew District, the many new beers on the market, and the wonderful festivals across the state. However, the beer business isn't just taking off in taprooms and at festivals; the booming business is affecting all sectors, notably retail.

In 2011, the Four Firkins opened a craft beer specialty shop in St. Louis Park. The store focuses on providing detailed knowledge of the craft, superior customer service, and, of course, a larger range of tasty and smaller batch beers than most liquor stores about town.

The store recently announced plans to expand from its single storefront to upwards of five locations. They're currently on step one of that plan, raising funds for a second store in Woodbury, and to help them on their journey, they have started an Indiegogo crowd funding site. The Hot Dish talked with owner Jason Alvey about the expansion plans and the challenges they foresee in the market.

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Celebrate National Night Out 2013 with free beer from the Four Firkins

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Tricia Cornell on how to shop Minnesota's farmers markets like a pro [RECIPE]

The Minnesota Farmers Market Cookbook by Tricia Cornell

It seems like a shopping no-brainer: instead of getting in your gas guzzler and motoring across town to a big box grocery store for your imported asparagus from Peru or heads of garlic from China, you spend your hard-earned food budget at your neighborhood farmers market, supporting the farmers who live and work near you, and getting the best quality produce you can. So why are so many people intimidated by the farmers market, and so few see it as a legitimate place to shop and feed their families?

Tricia Cornell tackles this question in her latest book, The Minnesota Farmers Market Cookbook. Brimming with easy to accomplish recipes, the book also includes a comprehensive directory of farmers markets throughout the region, and helpful notes on each type of produce covered, so you can shop and cook with confidence. She took the time to chat with us about kohlrabi, the lies we've been told about stir fries, and all of her best tips for shopping locally like a pro.

The Hot Dish: Describe your new cookbook. What should readers expect?

Tricia Cornell: The most exciting thing about The Minnesota Farmers Market Cookbook is that it's organized by product, so that you can experience it the same way you experience the farmers market. You can either start at the beginning of a row and walk all the way through, or you can drop in and see what you see in front of you, or you can go straight to the beets if you need beets. So the book is organized that same way.

HD: Why did you decide to write this book? Your previous book, Eat More Vegetables, tackles the questions of what to do with your seasonal produce. How does this book differ from or expand on the first?

Well, that book was also a lot of fun to write. That was 100% my recipes and the foods that my family eats at home. This book allowed me to talk to a lot of really dedicated farmers and chefs, some of them practically celebrities here in Minnesota and some them ordinary farmers market fellows. And the other thing is that this book allowed me to get really in depth and geeky on each vegetable in a way that I wasn't able to do so much in the first book. I take you through how to find a vegetable, when to buy it, what to when you get it home, how to store it...So, yeah, it's a little geekier on the vegetable front.

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Badger Hill Brewing looks south of the river

Categories: Beer, Q&A

Photo courtesy of Badger Hill Brewing

Badger Hill Brewing Company started making beer in 2012, sharing production space with Lucid and Bad Weather in a unique arrangement. Currently the brewery is prepping for a move to their own turf, trying to finalize on a property in the southern suburbs. The family run brewery was founded by husband and wife pair Broc and Britt Krekelberg and Broc's brother, Brent. They chose their name based on old English translations of "Broc" and "Brent." The brewery also just added a new head brewer, Michael Koppelman (who will share other duties in the company as well).

The Hot Dish spoke with Britt about the brewery's goals, identity, and the difference between brewing in Colorado and Minnesota.

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Lucid Brewing: the Minnesota beverage industry is all about Mom and Pop shops
Mike Hoops on brewpubs' challenges

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Town Hall's Mike Hoops on the challenges facing brewpubs

Categories: Beer, Q&A


Minnesota's craft brew scene is booming right now. However, the 1990s also saw an increase in Minnesota beer production, only to then see most of those companies wither on the vine. One of the survivors, Town Hall Brewery not only has supplied talented staff to many of the current start-ups, but the brewpub has also won a wealth of awards and expanded from their original Seven Corners location, adding neighborhood installations such as Town Hall Tap and, recently, Town Hall Lanes.

As the brewpub turns 16 this week, the Hot Dish caught up with 13-year veteran brewmaster Mike Hoops to talk about the unique challenges facing brewpubs, the state of the local industry, and whether or not he still has time for home-brewing.

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Town Hall Brewery celebrates 16 years of beer all week long
Great Waters brewpub: "It's never a straight path"

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