Now Open or Damn Close Rounds Up the Latest Players in the Region’s Brewing Scene
By Brian Kaufenberg
A utility meter reader, an adjunct professor, a substitute teacher, and a therapist walk into a kitchen and start brewing beer. No, it’s not the beginning of an old joke. It’s the beginnings of Bemidji Brewing Company.
Justin “Bud” Kaney, Tom Hill, Tina Hanke and Megan Betters have been busy building-out a brand new brewery space just blocks away from Lake Bemidji. Prior to this new space, the team was working out of Harmony Co-op’s community kitchen in downtown thanks to the funds raised from the group’s Kickstarter campaign.
Now they are brewing five different styles on a 3 bbl nano-brewing system for the patrons of their 50-person taproom as well as a handful of retailers in Bemidji, but their time in the Co-op helped shaped their understanding of creating a true connection with the community.
Tom and Bud know Bemidji well, having met there while at Bemidji State University. After college and many homebrew sessions together, Tom went to the Siebel Institute in Chicago to take his brewing to the next level, but before long Bud and Tom were back in the town of their alma mater to start their own brewery with Tina Hanke.
“It’s a beautiful place to live,” Hanke states succinctly. The town’s community, the landscape and lakes, and the college’s vibrancy are why the team settled on Bemidji for the brewery. They intend to become another part of what makes Bemidji a great place to live, and now imbibe.
The Brewer: Tom Hill
The Beers: Pale Ale, IPA, Robust Porter, Belgian Blonde, English Pub Alea
Visit: 401 Beltrami Ave NW, Bemidji, MN 56601
Hours: Fri: 4-9pm, Sat: 3-7pm