Bemidji Brewing needs a kickstart

For the Minnesota craft-beer world there's yet another new kid on the block; or at least on its way to the block. From up there near the headwaters of the mighty Mississippi comes the announcement of Bemidji Brewing Company. The brewery's three partners, Justin "Bud" Kaney, Tina Hanke, and Tom Hill (Minnesota's second Certified Cicerone), aim to supply Bemidji and the North Woods with fresh, high-quality craft beer. But starting a brewery takes cash, and times are tight. To overcome that barrier the threesome is looking to the community with a Kickstarter campaign to raise $15,000 by January 22.

Kickstarter, an online venue that enables people with creative projects to solicit donations directly from a broad, virtual community, has become the funding source de jour for would-be brewers. At least two other new Minnesota breweries, Lucid and Steeltoe, have used it successfully. A quick search of the Kickstarter website reveals 41 others around the country. It's an interesting way for small start-ups who might have difficulty securing lenders or attracting investors to get a leg up. The community-based, nearly-no-strings-attached support also keeps them free of the kinds of demands and limitations that more traditional funders might place on them. They can use the money to succeed or fail on their own terms.

Bemidji Brewing plans to start small, renting space in a commercial kitchen and working on a 25-gallon pilot brewery. They say this will make enough beer to supply one or two bar accounts in Bemidji. Once they have some documented sales and can demonstrate demand, says Tina Handke, they will be able to approach more traditional capital-raising entities such as banks and investors to build a larger production brewery.

In a recent press release the group professed a brewing philosophy centered on balance and finding complexity in simplicity. The statement goes on to say, "we embrace the idea of the session beer; a low-to-moderate alcohol beer that has just as much flavor and complexity as its higher-alcohol cousins. That being said, we do believe that there is an occasion for every style of beer." There is no statement as to when the group expects to have beer on the street.

If you want to help Bemidji Brewing Company get started, check out its Kickstarter page for more information.

Cheers, Michael Agnew Certified Cicerone A Perfect Pint

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