“Disgruntled kind of describes me,” says Brett Doebbeling, co-owner and head brewer at Disgruntled Brewing, soon to open in Perham, Minnesota. Although he’s successfully run his own drywall company for the past 15 years, before that Doebbeling says he “was always kind of a disgruntled employee thinking I could do it better on my own.”
Doebbeling’s independent spirit will be at the heart of Disgruntled Brewing, which is slated to have a soft opening on February 7. His co-owners are Andy Pettow and Craig Salmela, though he’ll be the one behind the bar and operating the taproom, as well as the one manning the brew kettles and fermenters in back.
After seven years of homebrewing, Doebbeling is anxious to start his commercial brewing business. But he’s never worked at another brewery, and says he expects his inexperience will come with challenges. Adjusting the water chemistry is among his bigger concerns as he scales up operations, and yeast health and the interaction of ingredients are two quality measures he learned to focus on through his years of homebrewing.
“I didn’t even know what craft beer was until I had my first Surly,” he recalls. “I was a Coors Light drinker here in the woods.” But that was when the beverage landscape looked a lot different. Today, downtown Perham features Brew Ales and Eats, which boasts 30-plus taps, and well-stocked liquor stores, both of which Doebbeling says have given the small town a knowledgeable customer base—a bonus for when Disgruntled opens its doors. However, much craft beer in town still comes from too far away, he feels—they are a three hour drive from the Twin Cities and over an hour from Fargo. Disgruntled will present something made locally.
The former drywaller says he’s amazed at the camaraderie local breweries have already displayed. “In the drywall business, the other drywallers are basically driving by with their middle finger up,” he says. With Disgruntled, on the other hand, he’s already had conversations with Junkyard, Jack Pine, and other start-from-scratch breweries. Doebbeling even put up the drywall for Jack Pine when it was being constructed in 2012.
Doebbeling says he plans to produce several year-round beers from the beginning, and add seasonals to the rotation as he goes—including IPAs, imperial stouts, kettle sours, and fruit beers. His brewing style covers a wide range, from familiar English and German beers to less traditional Americanized recipes. The only thing he doesn’t do, he says, are Belgian beers. One of his planned flagships is Toasted Blond Ale, which utilizes toasted malts. He’s also working on an espresso-infused brown ale. The expectation is to open small and build his lineup in time for a bigger grand opening this summer.
Disgruntled is located in the Perham’s industrial park, a quick drive from Highway 10, and is surrounded by pine trees, “with a real country feel,” Doebbeling says. The 5,000-square-foot building is brand new and custom built, with 1,000 square feet dedicated as taproom space. He describes the atmosphere as steampunk, featuring barn wood, steel, and unfinished concrete.
Doebbeling plans to focus on in-house sales while anticipating some keg delivery within a 30 mile radius, including Detroit Lakes and WadenaAfter that, he says he’ll think about adding 750-milliliter bottles, too. To start, though, Doebbeling’s focus is on customer experience. “I had 25–30 clients all year,” he says of his former life as a drywaller. “I know I’ll have hundreds or thousands of customers yearly [with the brewery].” Responding to the needs of those customers will be a new challenge, he says, but one he’s looking forward to.
Brewer: Brett Doebbeling
Beer: Toasted Blonde Ale (American blonde ale), Govnor (English amber ale), Bullet Proof (Northern English brown ale with espresso), Menace (American stout), Reaper (American IPA), and Contaminated Lemonade (gose)
Visit: 735 2nd St NE, Perham, Minnesota
Hours: Thu–Sat 3–10pm and Sun 11am–4pm