By Brian Kaufenberg and Joseph Alton
Updated March 1, 2018 at 10:00am: This story has been updated with information regarding the closure of NorthGate Brewing
Just months after NorthGate Brewing founders confirmed they were in the process of selling the brewery to Tod Fyten, it was announced Thursday morning that the brewery is officially closed, effective immediately. The announcement was made on NorthGate’s social media channels, where the brewery cited “unforeseen circumstances” as the reason for the decision. It is unclear whether the sale to Fyten was finalized or if it fell through; at the time of our original report, the sale was still pending. We were unable to reach Fyten nor representatives of NorthGate for comment.
Updated December 16, 2017 at 1:20pm: This story has been updated with information from NorthGate and Tod Fyten.
After nearly five years of operation, NorthGate Brewing’s Adam Sjogren, Todd Slininger, and Tuck Carruthers are selling the brewery they founded.
According to multiple sources close to NorthGate, the brewery quietly went up for sale earlier this year—a fact confirmed by Tuck Carruthers, NorthGate’s director of operations Friday evening. “Over the past several months, Adam, Todd, and I realized that we have taken NorthGate Brewing as far as we can. In order to grow the business into a successful and sustainable brewery in northeast Minneapolis, we have realized that we need to bring in new owners with more experience.
“We’ve come to the decision to bring in Tod Fyten of Fyten Capital and Fyten Family Breweries. At this time, we’re still in the process of transitioning so we cannot provide any more detail.”
Tod Fyten is the owner of the Stagecoach, Fytenburg, and St. Croix brands of beers. Fyten’s current brewing operation is based in Mantorville, Minnesota. It’s unclear what Fyten has planned with regards to the NorthGate brand. Reached by email on Saturday morning, he confirmed news of the sale but declined to provide any further details until the transition of ownership is finalized.
NorthGate’s founders poured their first pints in January 2013 at Grumpy’s Northeast. The English-inspired brewery was originally located in a 780-square-foot space on California Street in Northeast Minneapolis, later occupied by 56 Brewing and most recently Broken Clock Brewing Coop.
While their barebones setup got them off and running with minimal overhead, NorthGate soon bumped up against the capacity limits of their small space as they attempted to supply the growing demand for their beer.
In October 2014, NorthGate moved into its 7,400-square-foot location on Harding Street, opening a taproom for the first time and expanding its brewing operations to a 20-barrel brewhouse.
The pending sale is part of growing trend of ownership changes and brewery closures in Minnesota, which have been on the rise in recent months and years.
In 2017, two other breweries went up for sale as their owners looked to retire: Reads Landing Brewing Company, which sold to new owners in March; and Boathouse Brewpub & Restaurant in Ely, which was listed for sale in May.
This year also saw several breweries close their doors for good, including South Fork Brewing in Delano, Wenonah Brewing in Goodview, and Sídhe Brewing in St. Paul. A fourth brewery, Harriet Brewing, closed in late November 2016, and it looks like a fifth brewery, F-Town in Faribault, is in for a massive facelift in the near future (though F-Town co-founder Travis Temke is currently working on opening a new brewery and restaurant in St. Paul using F-Town’s equipment).
These sales and closures may fuel speculation that Minnesota, a state which has been relatively insulated from brewery contraction up to this point, has reached some sort of saturation point. But Minnesota’s rate of brewery openings and closures over the past five years is in right in line with national trends.
While we should be optimistic about the sustained future growth of craft beer in Minnesota, these sales and closures remind us that brewing is, at the end of the day, a business.
Correction: A previous version of this story listed Tod Fyten’s wife Madeline as part of the new ownership. She is not a part of the transaction.