About Brian Kaufenberg

Brian Kaufenberg is the managing editor, writer, and photographer at The Growler Magazine. His column "Now Open (Or Damn Close) keeps you up to date on the newest breweries in Minnesota.

Brewer Profile: Dicky Lopez of NorthGate Brewing

It’s a sleepy Tuesday afternoon at NorthGate Brewing. The taproom is closed and chairs are stacked upside down on the tables. NorthGate’s head brewer Dicky Lopez strolls in from the brewhouse floor and shakes hands with a strong grip. He’s sporting a heavy buffalo red flannel over his burly frame, a wild black beard, and […]

The West Side Brewers Collective: Eight breweries, one barleywine

How much does water and brewing equipment affect the taste of a beer? A new collaboration from eight West Metro breweries may hold the answer. Brewers from Lupine, South Fork, Schram Vineyards, Birch’s on the Lake, Wayzata Brew Works, Excelsior, ENKI, and Waconia joined forces and traveled to each other’s breweries to craft the same […]

South Pole suds: A glimpse into Antarctica’s unlikely beer culture

The ice-covered continent of Antarctica is a frozen desert with no indigenous human population. And understandably so: With winds gusting up to 200 miles per hour, temperatures capable of dropping to record lows (the coldest recorded temperature was minus 128.56 degrees Fahrenheit on July 21, 1983), and frequent blizzards, Antarctica is one of the most […]

Brewer Profile: Jerrod Johnson and Ben Smith of Surly Brewing Company

When Surly announced Todd Haug’s resignation as head of brewing operations last October, it set off a blaze of social media speculation from the brewery’s followers and from writers, who pondered the future of the decade-old brewery. What was behind the move? Could Surly have done something to keep him? Would Surly still be Surly […]

Supatra’s Thai Holiday: The longest month of the year

It happens at the same time every winter, but it always feels like a shock. Supatra’s Thai Cuisine, located at 967 West 7th Street in St. Paul, locks the doors, turns off the lights, and a posts a sign in the window that strikes fear and hunger into the hearts the entire staff of The Growler: “Supatra’s Thai […]

Now Open (Or Damn Close): Roets Jordan Brewery

Not even a 40-ton landslide of mud, rock, and tree roots could keep Tim Roets from opening his brewery in Jordan, Minnesota. In his shoes, many would have been discouraged when heavy rains in July 2014 caused the hillside to slam into the historic Jordan Brewery where Roets was working to open a three-barrel brewery. […]

Brewer Profile: Steve Finnie, formerly of Grand Rounds Brewpub

To Steve Finnie brewing beer is a privilege, and not one to be taken for granted. The basis for his belief becomes obvious as we sit at his favorite table, a round booth in the corner of Grand Rounds Brewpub, and he explains how a Scottish physical therapist ended up in Rochester, Minnesota, brewing beer. […]

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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 […]

Trailblazers 2016: Colin Mullen, Laura Mullen, Bryon Tonnis, and Karen Tonnis of Bent Paddle Brewing

When we talk about blazing trails in the drinks scene, few people are doing it quite as literally is the four founders of Duluth’s Bent Paddle Brewing Co. Bryon and Karen Tonnis, and Colin and Laura Mullen partnered with Duluth-based outdoor furniture company Loll Designs in 2015 to create Lollygagger Pale Ale, a West Coast-style pale ale […]

Trailblazers 2016: Michael Swanson and Cheri Reese of Far North Spirits

Kentucky has bourbon. Scotland has Scotch. But if Michael Swanson and Cheri Reese, founders of Far North Spirits, have anything to say about it, Minnesota will have rye whiskey. The distillery located on the Swanson family farm in tiny Hallock, Minnesota (population 981) has been making its grain-to-glass spirits, including Roknar Minnesota Rye Whiskey, which […]

Trailblazers 2016: Nick Kosevich and Ira Koplowitz of Bittercube

Even if you don’t know the names Nick Kosevich and Ira Koplowitz, you’ve probably tasted their work. The fingerprints of the duo behind the bitters-making and consulting service company, Bittercube, can be spotted all across Minnesota’s spirits scene. While the company is based in Milwaukee where their bitters are hand-crafted, Kosevich lives in Minneapolis and […]

Distiller Profile: Chris Montana of Du Nord Craft Spirits

Many of us are content in finding a steady job and settling into a comfortable routine. Chris Montana, on the other hand, has a voracious appetite for new disciplines. “My general philosophy on life is that you should do everything. Try to do different stuff because so many people live other people’s lives without really […]

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The Taste Test: Blind-tasting 26 Minnesota Oktoberfests

Much was learned at The Growler and Northern Brewer’s first blind tasting of a formidable field of 53 Minnesota-made American IPAs. Our first blind tasting earlier this year gave us a snapshot of the state of brewing in Minnesota through the lens of a ubiquitous style. We sampled IPAs that fell short of expectations and […]

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St. Paul votes to extend liquor store hours to 10pm

The St. Paul City Council voted Wednesday to allow alcohol sales until 10pm, six days a week, at St. Paul liquor stores. According to Pioneer Press, the city council members  voted 5-0 to repeal the early-closing requirement and amend city ordinances to clear the way for the 10pm closing time. The regulations take effect in early November. Until […]

Brewer Profile: Tom Hill of Bemidji Brewing

Four years ago this October, Tom Hill was brewing beer in a kitchen in Bemidji, Minnesota, on a 25-gallon brewing system. This wasn’t a homebrew session though. It was the modest beginning of the town’s sole brewery—Bemidji Brewing Company. Tom and his business partners Justin “Bud” Kaney, Tina Hanke (now Kaney), and Megan Betters (now […]

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