“Our mission at Finnegans is really turning beer into food,” says Jacquie Berglund.
We like her right away.
The Finnegans co-founder and CEO isn’t talking about any kind of actual transmogrification, of course. For 17 years, her charitable company has given 100 percent of its profits to Finnegans Community Fund (a 501C3), working closely with food banks throughout the region to make sure donations are used carefully and that as much of that beer as possible really is, well, "turned into food."
Finnegans was the first operation of its kind in the country, and they’ve been growing all the while. So in 2015, Berglund and co. announced that the brewery was moving out of Summit’s space, where they’d been brewing since 2003, and moving into a downtown microbrewery-slash-hotel. “Looking at the change of the craft brewing landscape, where there were once five or six breweries in Minnesota, now there’s more than 150,” she says. “And we’ve had this great liberalization of beer laws. Why not Finnegans?”
After years of planning, they're almost ready to throw open the doors. Finnegans' East Town brewery is slated to open in March.
Berglund says the idea here was twofold: to expand Finnegans' brewing operations and make more than the traditional Irish beers they've become known for, and to have a space of their own where they could "create maximum impact." On the beer side, they brought former Insight head brewer Ryan Mihm on board in July. On the "maximum impact" side, there's The Brewer's Den -- another first-of-its-kind offering.
The membership program (subscriptions range from 27 to 81 bucks per month) gives holders access to a VIP lounge with "state-of-the-art meeting rooms and amenities, multiple lounges, shuffleboard, membership socials, and a relaxing professional atmosphere for entertaining local and out-of-town guests," according to a release. Members can preview new recipes and take home complimentary growlers and pints, and 75 percent of dues will go to support the innovation lab and business incubator on the top floor of Finnegans' three-story space.
It's all part of the brewery's social enterprise-meets-suds ethos.
"As we were growing our own brewery, we wanted to expand our social business model. This was really around creating a space for like-minded folks," Berglund explains. “I think the more social enterprises we support and help launch, the healthier our community is going be.”
525 S. Eighth St., Minneapolis; 612-454-0615