By Brian Kaufenberg
Gypsy brewers Brian Schazenbach and Jon Loss of Blacklist Brewing have shirked the conventional brewery model from the beginning. In fact, their opposition to large-scale, industrial operations is engrained in the very name of the brewery, a reference to an unwritten brewer’s code that said any brewer that uses wild yeast or bacteria will be blacklisted from big production breweries.
Instead, Brian, a graduate of the Siebel Institute and former brewer at Fitger’s Brewhouse, and Jon, an MCAD graduate and certified cicerone, made their start by brewing a new style of beer each month in partnership with local artists of all mediums for their Beer + Art of the Month members, who pick their monthly allotment up at designated locations in the Duluth, St. Paul, Minneapolis and Brainerd areas. It’s a less capital-intense model that allows Jon and Brian to keep creativity at the forefront of their venture.
The goal of the Beer + Art partnership is to create interesting narratives through the art, which provides a unique lens through which one can view the beer. During our conversation, Brian and Jon emphasized over and over their whole-hearted belief that beer is special and, as such, is deserving of a special occasion.
Their Beer + Art Project 2013 is fully funded by members via the company’s Kickstarter campaign, and their beer Or de Belgique is now available in retail locations in the Duluth area. Now Jon and Brian are turning ready to dig their roots in and create a permanent home in the Northland for their once nomadic project.
Blacklist is truly a brewery in the Belgian style, blowing the lid off convention with its focus on experimental ingredients and processes. From a Minnesota honeysuckle ale, to a spruce tip IPA with fennel, to a 15% ABV beer, to variations of Or de Belgique aged in white and red wine barrels with white and red grapes, Brian and Jon look to add depth to the general styles of beer through nuance. Their approach to brewing and partnerships with other artisan trades shows that they hold one thing above all else—creativity.
The Brewer: Brian Schazenbach
The Beers: Or de Belgique, Beer + Art monthly selections