The Growler: Issue 76 – February 2020 – Great Debates


merica is more polarized than ever before.” The inescapable refrain ringing out from every corner of the internet and news media is growing louder as 2020 wears on. 

In many ways, it’s true. One need only watch Frontline’s sobering two-part “America’s Great Divide” to grasp just how wide the rift between Americans has grown and how far the value of objective fact has fallen in the past decade. 

There are some who say that the situation is irreparable, the divide has cut too wide and too deep. Some believe truth is dead. Personally, I don’t prescribe to those veins of defeatist resignation and, if you’ll permit me, neither should you. 

Mending this divide is possible, but it will require us to engage with one another and have the “hard conversations” that so many of today’s thinkers and leaders say are so necessary. 

It’s my belief that debate is a powerful tool for learning, and education is key for creating lasting, meaningful change in the world. However, in order for that tool to sculpt a more perfect vision for the future, the medium being shaped must be malleable. If our minds are hardened by mistrust and righteousness and our hearts calcified by fear, debate is as useless as a clay sculptor’s modeling knife on marble. 

How can we hear one another better? Perhaps it begins by accepting a simple and humbling self-truth: “I don’t know everything.” Or put in it’s affirmative: “I have something left to learn.”

In that spirit, we present our second “Great Debates” issue and invite you to descend into the details of several topics relating to our small corner of the world—craft beer, spirits, food, and culture. Some tackle serious issues: Is alcohol’s three-tier system fundamentally broken? Is Minnesota bad at food halls? Can independent craft breweries make it on their own or do they need to band together? Others are more light-hearted: Should dogs be allowed inside taprooms? 

But rather than focus on who “won” or “lost” the debate, my challenge to you this month is to ask yourself: what did I learn?

Brian Kaufenberg


The 3-Tier System Is Fundamentally Broken
By Jeffrey C. O’Brien and Brandt Erwin

Craft Breweries Must Band Together or Die
By John Garland and Michael McCullough

Dogs Shouldn’t be Allowed in Taprooms
By Liz Foster and Neil Miller


Brewing Change Collaborative
Changing the faces in brewing one beer at a time.
By Marla Khan-Schwartz

We blind tasted 31 NA beers and found 7 we actually enjoyed
By John Garland

Wine Time: Get on Board with Off-Dry Wine 
By Brit Tracy

The Old Fashioned is the New Cosmopolitan
By Michael Lindgren

What We’re Drinking
February 2020
By The Growler Staff


Craft Culture: Hot Stuff
Finding the source of Minnesota’s thermaculture boom starts with a trip to the Iron Range
By Lauren Sauer

One More Time, With Feeling
Encores are a time-honored ritual–but has the very idea of a concert coda lost meaning?
By Jay Gabler, The Current

Artist Profile
Will Dinski
By Eli Radtke

Growler Crossword
This month: “Both Sides Now”
By Andrew J. Ries and Victor Barocas


Check the Halls
When it comes to food halls, Minnesota just can’t win. Or can it?
By Pete Sieve and James Norton

A Slice of the Pie
With premium ingredients and a feminist mission, Rachel Anderson is building a new kind of bakery business
By James Norton

Looking for past issues? Browse The Growler Archive.