First Look: Dual Citizen Brewing positions itself as 'a springboard for the community'

Dual Citizen's IPA is a favorite of head brewer Max Filter (actual name).

Dual Citizen's IPA is a favorite of head brewer Max Filter (actual name). Photos by Jerard Fagerberg

Social responsibility has become a tradition in Minnesota brewing.

Surly has Surly Gives a Damn, Indeed has Indeed We Can, and Bauhaus has On the Haus. But not since Finnegans has a local brewery inscribed charity into their DNA.

That will change on January 27, when Dual Citizen Brewing opens on Raymond Avenue in St. Paul. Founded by St. Paul cousins Max Filter and Tim Kessler, Dual Citizen is devoted to using their 200-person taproom and 10-barrel brewhouse as a force for good.

“I think if you can do more, you should,” Filter says. “That’s how I was raised.”

Dual Citizen is not Filter and Kessler’s first foray into commercial brewing. Filter went to college in Portland, where he cultivated an immediate interest in craft brewing. After moving home to Minneapolis in 2009, he recruited Kessler as his new brewing partner, and the two bought a house they hoped to renovate into a nanobrewery. Both have families full of craftsmen, and they planned on helming the renovation themselves. That was, until the fire marshall came around and condemned the space they were working on.

Filter admits the two were “young and foolish,” and the condemnation ended up being a blessing. Filter and Kessler hit reset. They each signed up for brewing classes at the Siebel Institute of Technology (the same institution that graduated Summit’s Mark Stutrud). Filter eventually moved out to Colorado to work on the packaging line at Longmont’s Left Hand Brewing before leaving to brew at Renegade Brewing in Denver.

Jerard Fagerberg

Jerard Fagerberg

It took three years, but Filter’s family cornered him at Thanksgiving and finally coerced him into coming home. He moved back to Minneapolis in May of last year, and two months later, he and Kessler had already secured a coveted spot in Midway.

“We’re all about this community,” Kessler says. “We want to be a springboard for the community. I mean, this location -- we’re right on the green line and the Grand Rounds. Plus, this is the most rapidly growing residential area in the Twin Cities.”

Dual Citizen occupies a former BRINKS armored truck garage on the ground floor of C&E Flats. It’s a huge space, and they had to compete with other breweries to get the lease. Filter and Kessler don’t take that selection likely, and they’re committed to using their airy, industrial platform to support local businesses and charities.

Although Filter and Kessler have been meeting with local organizations and Filter is looking to continue his lifelong contribution to Habitat for Humanity, Dual Citizen is still quite an aspirational name. They’re depending on their neighbors to help them direct the social arm of the business. Got a local nonprofit you think could benefit from a no-cost meeting place? Tell your bartender next time you stop in.

“The name represents who we want to be,” Kessler explains. “Being a citizen is more than being a resident. It's about giving more than you’re taking.”

Of course, none of that gets off the ground without getting people in the door. Dual Citizen divides the beer menu into three easy-to-digest categories: malty, hoppy, and easy. Though Filter admits this was mostly a marketing decision, the matrix fits nicely with his preference for clean, classic American styles, as well as the brewery’s mandate for openness.

“Beer is beer, there’s no need to be snobby about it,” Filter says. “As long as it’s not technically flawed, any beer can be someone’s favorite beer.”

A beer like their Kellogg Cream Ale drinks like a '90s vintage, with hints of corn cereal. Likewise, Lyndale Session Pale Ale (4% ABV) is lightly hopped and bright, diverging from its modern peers with its crystal clear body and chinook grassiness. Their IPA is a personal favorite of Filter’s. Drinking with the pine of a traditional mid-2000s West Coast IPA, it shows his Portland pedigree.

Dual Citizen currently offers four different beers, but a brown ale, hoppy amber, golden S.M.A.S.H., and second IPA are finishing and will be on tap by the Super Bowl. The star of the early run is their Grand Imperial Stout -- an 8% ABV silken stout that drinks with an aromatic roastiness and no hint of booze. It’s a beer that shows how nine years of hold ups and diversions can be a godsend.

Dual Citizen Brewing
725 Raymond Ave., St. Paul; 651-330-4750