Jeremy Hale and Blake Verdon are former home brewers living their dream in Hopkins. The two opened LTD Brewing Co. last month (LTD stands for Live the Dream), and they've been busy brewing small-batch beers and connecting with the community ever since. The two plan a smaller brewing approach with a rotating lineup of a few staples but also leaving room for experimentation and variation coming from their 8bbl system.
Starting out with taproom-only sales and aiming to feel out demand before expanding to bottles and cans, the two are enjoying their new business while always keeping an eye toward the future. Right now they have six beers on tap, but have capability for 12 and are thinking about adding casks and barrel-aged beers when the time is right.
Hot Dish: It sounds like you're focused on small-batch brewing, with a few staples, but a priority is given to variety in your lineup on any given day.
Blake Verdon: We are very focused on small-batch brewing with a nice variety in our lineup (we brew eight barrels per batch). Right now our focus is less on staple beers, but we will strive to always have four particular "genres" available: something darker (stout or porter), something more bitter (IPA or pale ale), something a bit more malty (amber or brown), and something lighter (blonde, kolsh, wheat, pilsner).
The remaining taps/production capacity is dedicated to a full arsenal of beers (30 total recipes) developed over the past 10 years.
With that small-batch approach, are you focused more on the taproom or are there ambitions to develop more of an identity as a production brewery?
Right now, we are highly focused on the taproom. However, we are excited about the possibilities of distributing and developing a production identity. We have a wholesalers license with the ability to self-distribute. We first need to gauge the demand from the taproom before we can commit to providing beer for bars/restaurants/liquor stores. The worst thing we could do is overcommit our supply to the point where we run out of beer in both distribution and in the taproom. We currently have a waiting list for kegs/draft and bottles and are focusing on the Hopkins area.
We couldn't help but notice that you like fruit-infused beers.
Most definitely! We currently offer Sweet Dreams, a pineapple wheat, and we created a raspberry chocolate milk stout for the Raspberry Festival (in Hopkins last week). We have brewed with just about every fruit or spice you can think of and can't wait to introduce more in the future.
You chose Hopkins after a lease in northeast Minneapolis fell through. What attracted you to Hopkins?
While we were disappointed when the lease fell through on us in Northeast, we actually were really lucky it happened.
Hopkins has big draws: the potential to be in a downtown retail-zoned area with restaurants and shops in walking distance instead of the industrial park traditional brewery zoning restrictions; the ability to be part of such a tight-knit community so close to Minneapolis; great access to bike trails, as we are right between the Greenway (Minnesota River Bluffs LRT) bike path and the Lake Minnetonka LRT Regional Trail; the ability to bring a craft brewery to a community that did not have one; a community that was willing to work with us to make it a reality; and the potential for the Southwest LRT stop to be on eighth Street (the same street our brewery is on).
I would go as far to say, if you are thinking about opening a business, not just a brewery, look to the city of Hopkins. They are incredibly supportive.
What are your ties to Hopkins besides the brewery?
I grew up in Minneapolis/Eden Prairie. I ended up frequenting downtown Hopkins and loved Main Street (the discount movie theater, the restaurants, and atmosphere). I also played in the MASL (Minnesota State Amateur Soccer League) with our home field just north of Main Street in Hopkins. When we were put in contact with the city economic development manager, I knew we had to make it our home.
What has been your most popular beer so far?
Anything that has the name "IPA" in it. First it was our "No Shore" IPA, now it is the Dream Weaver double IPA. There is no secret that craft beer enthusiasts love IPAs. I would, however, say that we receive a lot of compliments on our stout lineup so far (Nightmare, an Irish dry stout, and the Lil' Night Terror, the chocolate milk stout).
Which beer is the most fun to brew?
I really enjoy making the triple IPA -- it's my favorite beer. We just brewed it a little over a week ago. It is fun to bring our more "extreme" concoctions to life. Something that, as homebrewers, we never imagined we would have the ability to brew on a commercial scale.
Beers on tap (at the time of interview): Lil' Night Terror (Chocolate Milk Stout served out of a Nitrogen Tap) Raspberry Lil' Night Terror (Raspberry Chocolate Milk Stout served out of a Co2 Tap and made special for the Raspberry Festival) Dream Weaver (Double IPA) Sweet Dreams (Pineapple Wheat) Dream Girl (American Blonde Wheat) Bee Dreaming (Golden Honey Ale) Sodas on tap: Root Beer Raspberry Cream Soda (made special for the Raspberry Festival)
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