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By: | Posted: 05/09/2013
Does anyone in this beer-mad state remember three-two? That would be beer at or below 3.2 percent alcohol, which is all that used to be permitted in south Minneapolis, south of 31st street, in the benighted days before 1997. Friends of mine who grew up here used to call them “whizzy bars” because of the biological side effects of how much you’d have to drink to get drunk. (The STrib had a good story on the last of the breed, for those of you who want to revisit the whizzy days of yore.)
Anyhoo, that was then, right? Wrong! I met with D. Evan Sallee, one of the founders of one of the newest Minnesota breweries, Fair State, which is currently looking at brewery spaces in Seward and Longfellow, and he told me that when they get going they’re going to make mainly traditional lagers and session ales—and 3.2 beer! You could have knocked me over with a whizzy bar.
Why? Why would anyone make craft 3.2?
“We could be the only good beer at Rainbow!” Sallee told me.
Yes, let us not forget that convenience stores and groceries still can only sell 3.2. Would you buy small brewery craft stout from Rainbow? On a Sunday? Instead of driving to Wisconsin, as is often the alternative? Don’t answer now, you have a while to think about it—Sallee imagines they’ll open officially next December or January. Perhaps even sooner if you care to become a member/owner of this brewery cooperative. What’s a brewery cooperative? Ever been to the Wedge or the Seward? Fair State is organized under Minnesota’s coop laws, such that you can give them money, become a member/owner, and then get member/owner benefits, like priority access for special beer releases, invitations to special happy hours, and the like. Then, like our other coops, if you decide you want to be done and move on, you can get the money back (assuming they’re not insolvent.) Sallee told me that this coop structure will allow member/owners to be as involved as they want to be, they’ll be able to run for the board, volunteer at the taproom, and so on. If you want in, follow them on Facebook or find their website.
Till then, here’s everything else I know about the newest brewery for our fair state.
1). It’s a joint Macalester-Carleton College production, so I assume there will be some sort of ultimate frisbee/geology/theater/poli-sci thing going on, possibly in the parking lot.
2). Fair State’s brewer, Niko Tonks, has worked at Austin, Texas’ Live Oak Brewing, which Beer Advocate says makes one of the country’s best wheat beers.
3). When I asked Sallee whether the Minneapolis beer boom was anywhere near slowing down, he said, “Minneapolis is one of the top 10 craft beer drinking cities in the country, but is not anywhere near the top 10 per capita. I think we’re still a couple years away from achieving brewery density versus cities of comparable size.”
Okay, so where is Minnesota, in terms of breweries per capita? Last figures I could find were for 2011, and then we were 26th.
I’m betting we bump up at least to replace good old number 25, Indiana, by next year. But that leaves another question: Now that the French horn Belgian Ale slot has been taken (Boom Island), and the Indian food and session ale spot (612 Brew), and the co-op 3.2 beer spot, what niches are left? Irish clog dancers brewing gluten-free? Leave your best idea in the comments and I will laugh, and/or someone will steal it from you. Cheers!
Dara Moskowitz Grumdahl is a senior editor at Mpls.St.Paul Magazine.See bio
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