Barley to barley, hops to hops: Almost exactly a year after NorthGate Brewing called it quits, a new brewery just announced they're heading for its northeast Minneapolis address.
Falling Knife Brewing Co. comes from co-founders Andy Rutledge, Tom Berg, and Dan Herman. They've taken over the 7,400-square-foot, 149-person taproom and hope to open later this year—but not before making a few changes to the space.
To start, they're moving the taplines from the back bar out to front. "Bartenders should never have their back to you," Herman says.
That dedication to service extends to... well, service, which you'll get at every table. At Falling Knife, there's no standing in line and waiting to order the next round; instead, they'll have servers running drinks for you. That's a big deal for Herman, especially, who's spent two decades in the restaurant industry at places like Kincaid's and Tilia, where guest experience is paramount.
“People taking the time to come out and share their time with us—we don’t take that lightly," he says. “To me, it’s a huge thing. It’s warm, it’s welcoming, and that’s the kind of place we want to be.”
They're bringing that personal touch to Falling Knife's musical side, too. No soulless TouchTunes bot here; these three are filling a 100-CD jukebox with some of the records that matter most to them, and staff members will eventually add their favorites. (Berg actually plays in local bands Zebulon Pike and Self-Evident; Rutledge in Earthrise.)
Genre-wise, expect everything from jazz to old-school R&B to post-hardcore and punk. Just know it won't be all record-store-guy-approved canonical classics: “I have a Carly Rae Jepsen CD on it, because I think E•MO•TION is a great album," Herman chuckles.
So that's the deal with the service and the soundtrack. What about the suds?
That's Berg's purview. He's a nationally decorated homebrewer and BJCP judge who's brewed at Wicked Wort and has collaborated with a bunch of Twin Cities breweries, including Venn Brewing, Back Channel, Flat Earth, and Day Block. Herman says Berg takes this stuff "super seriously," and describes the beers as having a “reverence for the past, but willingness to explore a little bit more.” He's an especially big fan of Berg's German Pils.
They just tested out two brews—Class 100 and Hartthrob, pictured above—in collaboration with Back Channel Brewing this weekend. Both, Herman says, were well-received: "People genuinely enjoyed 'em. People who we know would absolutely tell us if we were not up to par were blown away by it.”
And if the beer is serious, the taproom won't be. They're converting part of the space into a pinball alley; Herman is a long-time player in Twin Cities pinball leagues (which are thriving, by the way)! They're basketball fans too, so plan on catching a lot of Wolves games here.
As for the name, that comes from an old restaurant industry adage: A falling knife has no handle.
"We're taking that risk, reaching out and grabbing that thing we want," Herman says. "If we take a few cuts along the way, everyone will still have a good time."
Expect Falling Knife to be slicing and serving by July or August.
Falling Knife Brewing Co.
783 Harding St. NE, Minneapolis