In this Issue

Issue 39 | January 2017 | Minnesota Roots

Lucas Gluesenkamp’s cover to The Growler #39

Letter from the editor

Dear readers,

I was recently enjoying a pint at my neighborhood taproom, watching the flow of patrons at the bustling local hangout. In and out came individuals from all walks of life: young people, old people, business colleagues meeting for happy hour, construction workers stopping by for a growler to go on their way home from work, even kids playing board games with their parents. The room felt diverse to me. That is, until a young African American couple walked in and took a seat at the bar. It wasn’t the couple that stood out to me—it was their very white environment that seemed stark.

If you spend much time drinking in Twin Cities, it’s hard not to notice that the customer base of craft beer makes last year’s Oscars celebration look like an exemplar of ethnic diversity. This is not a new problem, nor is it the first time that it has become apparent to me in my time in and around the craft beer industry. Some has been written on the topic, but it is a sensitive subject, and one that many writers, myself included, have shied away from.

Julia Herz, craft beer program director at the Brewers Association and publisher of, put it well in a piece for The New Brewer: “I’ve found myself fumbling through cringe-worthy interviews on the topic of diversity that have left me lacking confidence in speaking to the subject.” I can relate to reading seemingly well-meaning brewers and members of the industry come across as hypocritical or insensitive.

In the piece, Herz points to “significant increases in women starting, owning, and working in breweries and enjoying craft beer,” but recognizes the need to do a better job in attracting a more ethnically diverse base of consumers, industry employees, and brewery owners. Still precious little data exists—from the Brewers Association or anywhere else—to help shine a light on the roots of the problem. It seems more important than ever to start a conversation about why an industry so diverse in its products and personalities remains so multi-culturally challenged.

The Growler is setting out to do just that. Stay tuned this year for a series of stories touching on a host of topics on gender, race, and the roles they play in our food, beverage and cultural communities. We’re asking you to help. Do you have a story about how your gender or racial background has influenced your experience in the craft beverage, fine dining, or arts and music communities? Please send your ideas, stories, questions, comments to

With the spirit of diversity in mind, we present our Minnesota Roots issue. This issue is a reflection on some of the diverse cultural communities that have to come to shape the food and beverage landscape in Minnesota. Take a trip through our eating and drinking history all the way back to the days of the indigenous peoples that inhabited this land, then learn about efforts to bring back heritage varieties of wheat and vegetables with historical roots in the state. Whether your ancestral roots trace back to Laos, Germany, Palestine, or Scotland, Minnesota is a place for people of all creeds and colors. Let’s continue to put in effort, and foster inclusion, to make sure it stays that way.

I recognize that there is tremendous work ahead if we aim to heal the rifts dividing us—racially, politically, and otherwise—but maybe we should start the conversation over a beer?

Cheers, and Happy New Year!
Joseph Alton, Editor-in-Chief


The Rice Table
A chef, a YouTuber, and the identity of Lao food in Minnesota
By John Garland

Amber Waves of Heritage Grain
Minnesota’s historic grains and seeds are seeing a revival
By Beth Dooley

Minnesota Spoon
Sameh Wadi’s last meal
By Steve Hoffman

A Minnesota foods timeline
By The Growler


The Stone Saloon
One man’s quest to to resurrect a civil war-era lager house in St. Paul
By Doug Hoverson

Brewer Profile
Steve Finnie, formerly of Grand Rounds Brewpub
By Brian Kaufenberg

Craft Cocktail
Contemporary Gin Fizz at Esker Grove
By John Garland

Spirits Close-Up
Licorice root
By John Garland

Homebrew Recipe
Backthrow Pre-Pro Triple Grain Amber Lager
By Michael Dawson

What We’re Drinking
January 2017
By The Growler


Artist Profile
Lucas Gluesenkamp
By Kate Murphy

Craft Culture
Handcrafting stories at North House Folk School
By Tanya Starinets

Dibs on Dylan
Can Minnesota claim credit for the success of Robert Zimmerman?
By Jay Gabler