Brewer Profile: Brennan Greene of Birch’s on the Lake

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Brennan Greene // Photo by Aaron Davidson

Whereas many consider Minnesota’s brewpub laws, which restrict distributing beer for retail sale, a hindrance, they perfectly dovetail with Brennan’s philosophy. “What it really comes down to with brewpubs is that I think I’m too much of a control freak,” Brennan admits. “If what I really care about is the taste of the beer, how could I ever send any of it out the door?” (The thought of a growler of his beer sitting in someone’s hot trunk all day is enough to make him physically cringe.)

“You do the brewpub model because I clean the lines. I taste the beer, constantly. I know the shape my beer is in at any given time,” he says. “If something did go horribly wrong, I can just not serve the rest of the batch rather than have one person try a so-so beer.”

While not everyone might agree with his opinions, there’s something undoubtable about Brennan’s conviction. He’s a deep thinker with a firm grasp of who he is and what beer means to him. And according to him, the best place to have one of Birch’s beers is right here at Birch’s—whether it’s in the supperclub, the bar, or on the patio where we’re sitting now, sipping a second beer and watching a crew team glide across the lake in their slender boat like a water bug.

It seems inevitable that Brennan’s dream of owning a brewery would land him back in Minnesota, on the shores of a lake. The secluded setting allows him to create his own world of brewing and is helping keep things in perspective. “We’ve been open for seven months now, and if something catastrophic happened and we had to close up shop tomorrow, at least I got six or seven months of making the beers I wanted to make,” he says, with a spirit of acquiescence.

But that worst-case scenario seems far-flung. The future looks bright for Birch’s. Brennan and his business partner, Burt Joseph, have exceeded all their early sales goals. Currently, the biggest problem they face is not having enough parking for all the guests. All the same, Brennan is taking things one batch at a time, and trying to remain thankful that he’s even gotten the chance to make the beer he dreamed of making.

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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.