Trailblazers 2017: Youth Farming Nonprofits

America has a farming crisis, one that has nothing to do with prices, pests, topsoil or water quality. The problem is with the farmers themselves—the average age of Minnesota farmers is 56, and they aren’t being replaced by younger generations at the rate we need. Couple that with another drastic shortfall—1.6 million Minnesotans lack easy … [ Read more]

Trailblazers 2017: Lee Egbert

There are many ways in which people are contributing to the local craft spirits industry: at the production level in the distillery; at the retail level behind the bar; even as media covering the scene. Lee Egbert, though, is doing it all. As a founding partner of 11 Wells in St. Paul, Egbert worked alongside … [ Read more]

Trailblazers 2017: Nate Watters & Tracy Jonkman of Keepsake Cidery

In spring of 2014, Nate Watters and Tracy Jonkman planted 2,400 apple tree saplings on their property in Dundas, Minnesota, with a singular goal in mind: make top quality cider from Minnesota-grown apples. Spanning 30 varieties of dessert and cider apples, the founders of Keepsake Cidery knew they were taking a big chance on the … [ Read more]

Trailblazers 2017: University of Minnesota Grape Breeding and Enology

This January, when the mercury dips below zero and the snow is blowing across windswept fields in Minnesota, take a moment to consider—in spring, the grape vines at the state’s 60-plus wineries and even more vineyards will begin to bloom again. This fact is due in large part to the University of Minnesota’s grape breeding … [ Read more]

Trailblazers 2017: Local Malt

  Malt is the backbone of craft beer. In fact, it can take three to seven times more malt to brew a craft beer than a domestic lager. That’s good news for the state’s few barley growers and maltsters. Up until two years ago, Minnesota was home to just one malting company, Rahr Malting Corporation. … [ Read more]

Trailblazers 2017: The Bachelor Farmer Beverage Team

There are several fine cocktail bars in town. There are several more excellent coffee shops. And there are lots of places to drink an interesting and thoughtfully selected glass of wine. But nowhere in the Twin Cities does excellence in all three beverages happen under one roof quite like at The Bachelor Farmer, and there … [ Read more]

Trailblazers 2017: Sandy and Jay Boss Febbo of Bang Brewing

How do Sandy and Jay Boss Febbo split up the responsibilities of owning and operating a brewery and taproom? It’s simple: they don’t. “Our chosen scale has allowed us to operate as a true partnership,” says Sandy Boss Febbo, co-owner of Bang Brewing and wife of Jay. “We both like seeing things through start to … [ Read more]

Trailblazers 2017: Quality Beer

If there’s one trend in local beer that I’d like to see stick around, it’s a newfound dedication to consistency and quality. For far too long in this community, inexperienced breweries have been bringing bad—often fundamentally flawed—beers to market. Now, as consumers become educated about quality craft beer and more breweries are investing in quality … [ Read more]

Trailblazers 2017: HOTTEA

For a decade, someone has been marking and splashing words and colors on chain-link fences around Minneapolis. Not with spray paint, but with yarn. Using thousands of colored strings, Eric Rieger, aka HOTTEA, has harnessed a non-destructive take on street art by elevating the more-often-than-not bad rap of graffiti to another level. But before blanketing … [ Read more]

Trailblazers 2017: Chadwick Phillips

For many artists, making a name for themselves can be a challenge. Chadwick “Niles” Phillips, founder and CEO of The Avant Garde, is working to change that by putting a spotlight on up-and-coming artists in the Twin Cities. Originally from Lansing, Michigan, Phillips grew up in a musical family and was inspired to go into … [ Read more]

Trailblazers 2016

What’s the value of a brewery’s stance on mining? Why be concerned with obscure English apples? What’s so important about a chicken sandwich at a stadium? Why does it matter if a basketball team weighs in on current events? The answer to all those questions is the same: it makes a difference. There are people … [ Read more]

Trailblazers 2016: Danielle Cusack

Rock ‘n’ roll has always been about youthful energy, but right now the Twin Cities music scene is having an especially youthful moment, with artists like Lexii Alijai blowing up on SoundCloud and an all-ages scene burgeoning at venues like the Garage. At the nexus of what’s next is 20-year-old Danielle Cusack: drummer, bassist, singer-songwriter, … [ Read more]

Trailblazers 2016: Mike and Gretchen Perbix of Sweetland Orchard

Minnesota’s cider scene is flourishing. In 2015, cidermakers made 100,000 gallons of cider from 33,333 bushels of Minnesota-grown apples. By 2019, they are projected to make upwards of 400,000 gallons of cider, which would require an additional 100,000 bushels of apples. Though the demand for cider apple varieties is rising, Minnesota apple growers are reluctant … [ Read more]

Trailblazers 2016: Jorge Guzman of Surly Brewing

Brewery taprooms have become one of most significant cultural developments in the Twin Cities in recent years, but most lack in one clear area: food. Food trucks get the job done, but they rarely take dining to the next level. That’s where Jorge Guzman separates Surly from the pack. Guzman spent years as lead chef … [ Read more]

Trailblazers 2016: Louise Erdrich

“Louise Erdrich has portrayed her fellow Native Americans as no contemporary American novelist ever has, exploring—in intimate and fearless ways—the myriad cultural challenges that indigenous and mixed-race Americans face.” These words, spoken by the previous Librarian of Congress, James H. Billington, addressed the literary and virtuosic impact that Erdrich exudes, as she was awarded the … [ Read more]