20 Years in Craft Beer

My move to Minnesota was interesting. There were far fewer breweries than there are now. Summit was a brewery I really looked up to and Schell’s was doing God’s work in New Ulm. In Northern Minnesota, my brother Mike had put two hard years of heavy lifting and the education of consumers into Fitger’s Brewhouse. I owe a lot of my success to him for those years. When I arrived here I found a smaller but stronger brewing community, and to my amazement a ready, willing, and thirsty group begging for hoppy beers. The incredible brewing water and open-mindedness of the untapped Duluth beer market made the job really, really fun. It still is.

I have watched with delight these last 15 years as great brewery after great brewery has opened in Minnesota. I feel that the 100+ brewery line will be crossed soon. And hopefully, the crash of 1996–2000 will never ever happen again. I don’t think it can—the beer is too good.


I will close with a bit of advice for young brewers and a few trends I think we will see more of. Many folks ask me about breaking into the industry, and I get resumes across my desk all the time. And I believe that brewing schools have become a necessary part of scoring that first brewer’s gig.

Siebel has changed since I went there when it had its very own building, including a pilot brewery, full lab, and library. These days they are in the Goose Island pub building and there is quite a wait list for the advance brewing courses. I am also a big fan of the course at Doemens Academy in Munich. The courses are taught in English and the brewers I know who have attended have done well. The Master Brewers Association has thorough two-week courses twice a year in Madison that are very good if you have a brewing job and no formal training. But my two favorite are the full programs at the University of California Davis and Oregon State University. Look them up.

Also, read every single thing you can get your hands on about brewing—there is plenty out there.

To close, here are a few trends I think we will continue to see in the next few years.

•           Session ales and lagers with bold flavors but lower alcohol

•           Lagers, especially pilseners, will become a larger craft segment

•           Exclusive limited beer releases, which possibly go only to “club” or membership type set-ups

•           Long aged beer, along with interesting barrel aged offerings will be common

•           New hybrid styles will continue to show up

•           Collaborations are king; many, many more will be seen highlighting brewers’ strong bonds and unique skill sets.

It’s been great taking a trip down memory lane. Thanks for reading. Reach me on Twitter: @hoopsbrewing, on Facebook, or email: [email protected]



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