Is Luverne big enough for Take 16 Brewing? Its owners sure hope so.
In the small farming town of Luverne, Minnesota, a group of friends got together everyday for coffee at a local hangout to talk about life, work, and the community, until in July 2012 the conversation turned to beer. “Why doesn’t Luverne have its own brewery?” they wondered. In a town like Luverne, if there’s something that needs doing, it’s best to roll up your sleeves and do it yourself.
So Larry Lanschere, Rollie Miller, Dan Dobson, and Berlin Hoff set off to do research and gather a team to start Luverne’s first-ever brewery. The group formed Luverne Brew Partners and began to raise the capital for the project over the next 12 months.
By fall 2013, they had their Main Street building purchased, 15 bbl brewhouse and 30 bbl fermenters ordered, permits applied for, and the name chosen—Take 16 Brewing, a nod to old Highway 16, which was the main traffic route west and ran through Luverne before the Interstate system was built.
Though the original four friends started this venture, Take 16 Brewing is truly a project for and by the community. The brewery was funded by 60 community investors and a volunteer board of directors made up of the original four friends, president Kirk Bloemendaal, Tim Gust, and Gary Papik, runs the company.
To head up brewing operations, the board connected with Bo Belanger—owner, manager and master brewer of South Shore Brewery in Ashland, Wisconsin—and Luke Rensink—former brewery owner, microbiologist, and beer aficionado.
“Luke is the future, and Bo is the bridge to the future,” says Kirk Bloemendaal, president of Take 16 Brewing.
Rensink went to South Dakota State University for dairy science and started Heist Brewing Company in Brookings. He eventually sold his half of the brewery and moved to Sioux Falls, but as Bloemendaal notes, “He’s got a nice library of recipes.”
Take 16 is tapping Bo Belanger’s experience at South Shore Brewing to get the brewery set up, tuned in, and producing consistent and quality beer. He also brings a wealth of insight into the business side of brewing, which will help the board of directors learn the ins and outs of running the brewery.
There’s been a lot of buzz about the project among the locals, which is common with any new business in Luverne. “Any time there’s something new, there’s anticipation to see what its like,” said Bloemendaal. “I think it will be a new experience in town. People are starting to get keyed into craft beer here.”
Take 16’s flagship brews will be easy drinking to keep in tune with local tastes. The brewery and taproom is located in a former auto parts store and auto repair shop, where they will have pints and growlers available for purchase. Eventually the brewery will distribute beer to retail establishments in Luverne and nearby Sioux Falls.
The Brewer: Luke Rensink and Bo Belanger
The Beer: Country Mile Kölsch, Stormy Jack Stout, Hay Loft Hefeweizen, Kick the Can IPA, and rotating seasonals
Visit: 509 E. Main St., Luverne, MN