Finnegans and Badger Hill team up in new brewing partnership

Finnegans, the nonprofit beer company currently building its Finnegans House brewery and social entrepreneurship incubator in Minneapolis, Minnesota, announced it will be partnering with Badger Hill Brewing Company in a unique business arrangement known as an alternating proprietorship.

While both companies remain separate entities, the partnership allows the breweries to share each other’s infrastructure and will help maximize their efficiency when it comes to ordering ingredients and other materials. The model is the same one Badger Hill used when it started in 2011 as an alternating proprietorship at Lucid Brewing’s Minnetonka facility, before building their own 20-barrel brewery and taproom in Shakopee.

For Finnegans, the partnership will serve as a bridge to brewing its own beers for the first time. Currently, Finnegans Irish Amber and its other beer brands are brewed under contract at Summit Brewing Company in St. Paul. The arrangement, started in 2003, has allowed the nonprofit beer company to fulfill its mission of donating 100 percent of its profits to battling issues of food insecurity.

Finnegans founder and CEO Jacquie Berglund

Finnegans founder and CEO Jacquie Berglund

“Summit Brewing has been an incredible partner and Finnegans would not be here without their support and expertise,” Finnegans founder and CEO Jacquie Berglund says. “Mark [Stutrud], Damian [McConn], and their team deserve a great deal of credit for the many people Finnegans has been able to support in many local communities over the years.”

Now, Finnegans and Badger Hill are going on all in on new equipment and staff, which the companies will share, to propel their businesses forward.

Badger Hill’s Shakopee facility will handle the mainline production of both companies’ flagship beers. The brewery is getting a substantial upgrade with a new four-vessel, 40-barrel brewhouse and multiple 90-barrel fermenters added to the current fermentation tanks. A new canning line will double their packaging capacity and give them a wide range of options from four-packs up to 24-packs, including sampler packs. In addition, Badger Hill is commissioning new malt handling equipment, centrifuges, and installing state-of-the art quality control equipment in their lab, says Broc Krekelberg, co-founder and president of Badger Hill.

Rendering of Finnegans House in downtown Minneapolis

Rendering of Finnegans House in downtown Minneapolis

The Finnegans House brewery will be outfitted with a more nimble 20-barrel brewhouse and 10- and 20-barrel fermenters, and will have “significant barrel aging abilities,” says Krekelberg. There, at the Minneapolis brewery, Finnegans and Badger Hill will be able to brew special one-off or seasonal beers for their taprooms, or package them in 750-milliliter bottles.

The 750-milliliter bottling line is a prime example of why such a partnership makes sense. “These [750-milliliter bottles] are important to both breweries efforts. But investment into the kind of equipment is expensive, especially the kind of equipment to do it right. Why have both breweries invest separately into equipment when we can combine efforts and move production where it makes most sense?” explains Krekelberg.

Badger Hill president and co-founder Broc Krekelberg at the Shakopee brewery // Photo by Aaron Davidson

Badger Hill president and co-founder Broc Krekelberg at the Shakopee brewery // Photo by Aaron Davidson

In addition to sharing equipment, the breweries will have the benefit of a shared brewing staff that will travel between the breweries. While both companies will have separate head brewers and assistant brewers managing their individual brands, “a large portion of our brewing efforts (particularly mainline production in Shakopee) will utilize a team that works for both breweries, and Finnegans and Badger Hill will share the costs,” Krekelberg.

Entering into the partnership with Finnegans fulfills a longstanding wish of Krekelberg’s to “pay it forward” to another brewery by offering the same kind of opportunity Badger Hill had with Lucid. But this agreement will be equally beneficial for Badger Hill as it is for Finnegans.

“Finnegans and Badger Hill are taking the alternating proprietorship agreement to a whole new level,” Krekelberg says. “The partnership will allow significantly greater investment into quality control and manufacturing agility than either brewery could do on its own, providing capabilities that breweries of our size could only dream of not too long ago.”

For Berglund, the arrangement is making her longtime vision for her nonprofit a reality. “Finnegans House has long been a dream of mine and I am so grateful to all of our partners that are making it possible,” said Founder and CEO Jacquie Berglund. “This is a natural evolution of Finnegans as we expand and create a place for our fans to immerse themselves in the brand and mission, while providing a place for social entrepreneurs to learn and grow.”

About Brian Kaufenberg

Brian Kaufenberg is the editor-in-chief of The Growler Magazine.