MNBeer covers the state's brew scene in detail and with astounding regularity, covering everything from the new tap towers at Blue Nile to tastings at The Four Firkins to job openings at local breweries. For just over three years, Ryan Anderson of St. Louis Park has worked to make his site a cleanly designed, constantly updated one-stop shop for local beer knowledge.
"I work for Hoigaard's as half of their advertising department," Anderson says. "I wear a lot of hats and love it." Regarding MNBeer's relative longevity, he says: "We'll be throwing a 3.5 year birthday party in April -- you're all invited."
CITY PAGES: What was the genesis of the site?
RYAN ANDERSON: I started the site while I was unemployed. I had been toying with the idea of starting Minnesota beer-related site for some time, but could never find the time to put it all together. I knew it would be a great resource, so I convinced myself that, at the very least, the logo could serve as a portfolio piece. Our mission basically boils down to supporting the local beer scene, whether it be breweries and brewpubs, bars and restaurants serving good beer or even homebrew. We try not to play favorites and we don't talk shit.
CP: Since you've started the site, what the most exciting thing you've seen happen in the local scene?
ANDERSON: How much space do you have?
Surly's growth and popularity is absolutely amazing. I'd like to think that the MNBeer hype machine helped with that in some small way. The buzz surrounding that brewery has been nuts from day one.
I'm also really excited about all of the other new startups -- new breweries such as Flat Earth, Brau Brothers, and Lift Bridge, new brewpubs like McCann's in St. Cloud and Boathouse in Ely and all of the great bars (Stub & Herb's, Buster's on 28th, and The Blue Door to name a few) that have really stepped up the craft beer selection in Minnesota.
CP: Do you homebrew?
ANDERSON: I've been homebrewing for about four years. I make a mean saison and a fairly tasty coffee oatmeal porter with coffee roasted at Stumbeano's up in Fergus Falls, MN. My beer usually doesn't rival anything made by the pros, though my friends generally dig it. Of course the fact that its free probably doesn't hurt!
CP: People inevitably hate this question, but do you have a favorite local beer? How about non-local?
ANDERSON: I've avoided these questions for the past few years as their are a lot of local beers that I enjoy. That being said, Masala Mama (on cask) from Minneapolis Town Hall Brewery is probably one of my all-time favorite beers. It's bright, hoppy IPA with a flavor that is totally accentuated by the cask conditioning.
I have a hard time committing to a favorite with regards to non-local beer as well, but here are a few that I've enjoying a lot within the past six months or so: Tyranena Scurvy (Lake Mills, WI), New Belgium La Folie (Fort Collins, CO), and Three Floyd's Gumballhead (Munster, IN).
CP: Who are your readers, and do you ever get together with them?
ANDERSON: MNBeer readers are a varied crowd -- we definitely started with the hardcore beer geeks, but as time has progressed I've heard more and more from casual craft beer drinkers about how they've enjoyed the site. I see this as a very good sign for craft beer! We regularly run into readers at tastings, festivals and bars and brewpubs. That kind of interaction really makes the site worth doing. We're going to throw our first big event in April to celebrate our 3.5 year birthday. We're really excited to enjoy good local beers with our readers. Watch the site for details!