Brewer Profile: Mat Waddell of Wild Mind Artisan Ales

Walking around the large barrel cellar at Wild Mind Artisan Ales with brewer Mat Waddell, it’s clear to see he’s having a hell of a lot of fun. The room is filled with equipment for experimentation: hundreds of oak barrels, six large foeders, a custom-built coolship, and a blending tank. Mat pinballs around the room, … [ Read more]

Brewer Profile: Jeff Vondenkamp of Portage Brewing Company

As I sit down to interview Jeff Vondenkamp over beers in Portage Brewing Company’s taproom in Walker, he deflects my first question. Before I get started, he wants to know about my background and what led me to write for The Growler. Curiosity seems to be a big motivator for Jeff. While a first impression … [ Read more]

Brewer Profile: Ryan Mihm of FINNEGANS Brew Co.

With a flecked beard, an easy-going smile, and a plaid shirt that’s more of a uniform than accessory, Ryan Mihm looks like he’d be just as comfortable cutting logs as slinging kegs. He’s been brewing professionally for almost a decade at Maine’s Allagash Brewing Company, New Belgium in Colorado, and most recently, Insight. Now he’s … [ Read more]

Brewer Profile: Trevor Wirtanen of Oliphant Brewing

It’s Tuesday morning in the parking lot of the Liquor Depot off the main drag in Somerset, Wisconsin. As instructed, I peer around the corner looking for a brewery. Sure enough, tucked behind the liquor store, is a wall adorned with a vibrant mural and picnic tables set up under a tent. Inside, the walls … [ Read more]

Brewer Profile: Dan and Aaron Juhnke, Junkyard Brewing

Spreadsheets and printouts line the walls of a small office above the bar at Junkyard Brewing Company in Moorhead, Minnesota. Each page is a piece of the larger business plan that’s crucial to keeping seven large stainless tanks of beer silently fermenting just feet away. Over nitro tap coffee, Junkyard’s cofounder Aaron Juhnke prefaces my questions … [ Read more]

Brewer Profile: Dave Berg, August Schell Brewing Company

A peacock has marked me with a deadeye stare, its regal tail splayed on the stone walkway outside the gift shop of the August Schell Brewing Company. I’ve just parked on Schell’s Road, and a cyclist zips past on a Surly Cross-Check, nods, and hops off. I snap some pictures of the bird, taking in … [ Read more]

Brewer Profile: Caleb Levar of Fair State Brewing Cooperative and Oakhold Farmhouse Brewery

I turn on my recorder and loft up what I think is a softball question: “What led you to go the brewmaster route?” Caleb Levar and his business partner Levi Loesch exchange a look. In pure Minnesota Nice fashion, they both immediately look away and smile but clearly something is amiss. I’ve said something wrong … [ Read more]

Brewer Profile: Michael Koppelman of Badger Hill Brewing Company

It is midday on a Friday, one of the first 70-degree days in May, and Badger Hill Brewing Company’s taproom is hushed, save for a few lone wolves flipping through newspapers at the bar. I’m here to meet with Michael Koppelman, part owner and head brewer of Badger Hill. Though we’ve never met before, he … [ Read more]

Brewer Profile: Austin Jevne of Forager Brewery

Forager Brewery is tucked into an unremarkable industrial corner of Rochester’s Kutzky Park neighborhood, flanked by featureless commercial buildings, a gas station, and train tracks. Nevertheless, the brewpub’s parking lot is at capacity and an overflow of cars is parked on the street, defying the dozens of clearly visible “No Parking” signs.  In the back … [ Read more]

Brewer Profile: Andy Ruhland of Bad Weather Brewing

It’s 9:30am and I’m sipping my first cup of coffee of the morning as I pull up to Bad Weather Brewing on West 7th Street in St. Paul. Inside, standing behind the half wall separating the taproom from the brewery, Andy Ruhland is also sipping from a coffee mug, but it’s apparent that this is … [ Read more]

Brewer Profile: Dicky Lopez of NorthGate Brewing

It’s a sleepy Tuesday afternoon at NorthGate Brewing. The taproom is closed and chairs are stacked upside down on the tables. NorthGate’s head brewer Dicky Lopez strolls in from the brewhouse floor and shakes hands with a strong grip. He’s sporting a heavy buffalo red flannel over his burly frame, a wild black beard, and … [ Read more]

Brewer Profile: Steve Finnie, formerly of Grand Rounds Brewpub

To Steve Finnie brewing beer is a privilege, and not one to be taken for granted. The basis for his belief becomes obvious as we sit at his favorite table, a round booth in the corner of Grand Rounds Brewpub, and he explains how a Scottish physical therapist ended up in Rochester, Minnesota, brewing beer. … [ Read more]

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Distiller Profile: Chris Montana of Du Nord Craft Spirits

Many of us are content in finding a steady job and settling into a comfortable routine. Chris Montana, on the other hand, has a voracious appetite for new disciplines. “My general philosophy on life is that you should do everything. Try to do different stuff because so many people live other people’s lives without really … [ Read more]

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Brewer Profile: Tom Hill of Bemidji Brewing

Four years ago this October, Tom Hill was brewing beer in a kitchen in Bemidji, Minnesota, on a 25-gallon brewing system. This wasn’t a homebrew session though. It was the modest beginning of the town’s sole brewery—Bemidji Brewing Company. Tom and his business partners Justin “Bud” Kaney, Tina Hanke (now Kaney), and Megan Betters (now … [ Read more]

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Winemaker Profile: Mike Drash and Josie Boyle of Chankaska Creek Ranch and Winery

In the cellar room at Chankaska Creek Ranch and Winery, just outside Kasota, Minnesota, there are three A-frame racks full of wine bottles. This is where sparkling wine gets riddled—and no, that doesn’t mean it gets asked trivia questions. Riddling is how the bottle-fermented wine gently loses the dead yeasts that have created its bubbles. … [ Read more]

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