A simple Twitter post from NorthGate Brewing this past summer announcing their plans to expand in a new location was the spark that lit the fire for husband and wife Kale and Kerry Johnson. Kale, a professional engineer and five-year homebrewer, reached out to NorthGate, curious to know what their plans were with the old brewhouse equipment. When he heard it was going up for sale, “That started everything,” said Kale, president of 56 Brewing.
“From there we put a business plan together, we got investors, and we got all the beginning stuff rolling in a few months,” added Kerry, 56 Brewing’s vice president. The company has four other partners each filling different key roles in the company. Nick Chute is the brewery’s head brewer, Kristin Noraker is chief financial officer, Joe Wirth is chief technology officer, and Micah Godfrey is the building, facilities, and equipment director.
With the group of four other partners on board, they signed a purchase agreement with NorthGate for the 5bbl brewing system and fermenters and signed the lease with the property owner for NorthGate’s old brewery space.
The company is called 56 Brewing and will be Minnesota’s first CSB, or Community Supported Brewery. The concept is based on the community supported agriculture (CSA) model in which consumers receive boxes of fresh produce directly from a farmer by purchasing a “share” or a membership to the farm in advance to the growing season.
56 Brewing is offering three different annual memberships that include regular refills of 56 Brewing’s beer, discounts on 56 Brewing merchandise, early access to sample and purchase seasonal and limited beers, and an annual members-only commemorative growler. The top-level membership also includes a profit-sharing program in the CSB and a chance to win a brew session at the brewery.
Why a CSB? It is a way to provide a discount to the loyal customers and more importantly to build a community around the brewery, which is focused on improving sustainable practices, brownspace reclamation, and locally sourcing ingredients.
Though the brewery came ready to brew, the 56 Brewing team made a few tweaks to the building to make it their own. They built a garden outside the brewery, located in an industrial section of Northeast Minneapolis, to grow hops and other ingredients as well as help make the brewery more welcoming to visitors. They also built an addition to the side of the brewery for a walk-in beer cooler, which will free up space inside the small 800 sq ft brewery. The final piece they hope to add to the brewery is a canning line, which they aim to fund through a Kickstarter campaign.
Soon they will be producing a diverse lineup of beers ranging from a honey kölsch, milk chocolate coconut stout, keller lager, and a helles lager for distribution in kegs, growlers, and 750mL bottles when the bottling line is up and running.
Regarding the name, 56 Brewing. No, it doesn’t have to do with Joe DiMaggio’s legendary hitting streak—we asked. It’s a secret the team is holding close to their chest, but will reveal when they open their doors.
— The Growler Magazine (@growlermag) April 27, 2015
56 Brewing announced via its Facebook page that the brewery will open its doors for the first time on May 1.
Brewer: Nick Chute
Beer: Honey Kölsch, Milk Chocolate Coconut Stout, Keller Lager, Helles Lager, rotating seasonals
Visit: 3134 California St NE, Minneapolis, MN