Remember when the breweries in the state were in tidy geographic sectors? There were outliers like Summit in St. Paul and Surly in Brooklyn Center, Lake Superior in Duluth, and everything else in northeast Minneapolis?
Well, the rest of the state is catching up. Not only can one spend a day surveying the breweries of St. Paul or Duluth, now you can do the same in central Minnesota.
In the past few years Lupine (St. Cloud), Beaver Island (St. Cloud), Lupulin (Big Lake), Hayes Public House (Buffalo), South Fork (Delano), and more have opened just an hour northwest of the Twin Cities. Bad Habit Brewing in St. Joseph will soon be another addition, a small community brewhouse that further unites the movement beyond the metro.
Founder Aaron Rieland will take his home-brewing background public, working on a small-batch system modeled after Dangerous Man's in-house approach, and selling beer onsite only, with a steady rotation of styles.
"Growlers, pints, and flights," Rieland says. "I really enjoy brewing Belgian-style beers." The brewery is raising additional funds through a "Founding Members" platform that offers special deals. As for the taproom feel, Rieland is thinking "small town taproom" all the way, focusing the brand on his local customers instead of striving to be the next big thing.
Bad Habit is aiming to open by early fall, and will be the first brewery in St. Joseph since the 19th century. St. Joseph is about 70 miles from the Twin Cities and about 10 miles west of St. Cloud.
Hot Dish: St. Cloud, Buffalo, and other cities in the area feature new breweries. What appeals to you about this location for a brewery?
Aaron Rieland: We searched high and low for a location the last two years and always seemed to meet a brick wall with each place we liked. At first, I thought St. Cloud was the place to be: location, population, downtown scene, and the college.
About a year ago we started to branch out. I found a few locations in St. Joseph and we started digging deeper. After a few months of research we fell in love with the local community and how supportive everyone was here. St. Joseph has a storied history, and people in the area here really seem to grasp the idea of the local small-town brewery.
Do you think the St. Cloud area will take off as a beer destination area, akin to Duluth, for example, where tour buses pass through?
I think it will. Duluth, Minneapolis, and St. Paul have all done an incredible job making Minnesota aware of the craft beer craze. It is only a matter of time before central Minnesota catches up.
I have talked to Matt Studer and Nick Barth at Beaver Island Brewing and they are getting a lot of people from the Cities who are coming up just to try something different. Lupine Brewing is creating a heck of a name for themselves. Third Street Brewing has dominated this market and will continue to do so. All of these places have done a great job of creating local awareness, and we look forward to joining them. They have set the bar very high. I don't see it slowing down anytime soon.
What are some of your favorite St. Cloud area beers?
I really like Third Street's Rise to the Top Cream Ale. Beaver Island released their seasonal Lane 5 IIPA. That beer was amazing -- it's too bad it was a limited release.
What do you have in your fridge right now?
It's a long list: 5 gallon keg of Chocolate Milk Stout 5 gallon keg of Belgian Blonde 5 gallon keg of Red Ale 5 gallon keg of IPA New Glarus Spotted Cow and Moon Man Pale Ale Third Street Pumpkin Ale Castle Danger 17-7 Pale Ale Red Hook IPA and a bunch of homebrewed bottles of miscellaneous beers.
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