The Mill: Minnesota State Fair beers, Cheers Wisconsin!, and craft brewing industry report

August 2–August 8

August is here, and the anticipation for the Minnesota State Fair is building. This year’s specialty beers include old favorites like Lift Bridge’s Mini Donut and new offerings include a beer malt—all available at the Great Minnesota Get Together from August 24 to September 4.

In national news, the midyear craft brewing industry report from Brewers Association shows slowed, but steady growth indicating the industry is maturing and becoming more competitive. In an effort to remain competitive, two breweries sold this past week to outside investors. In Wisconsin, state legislators proposed new legislation to update the state’s liquor laws in an effort to encourage further growth for craft brewers.


Milk & Honey's new cidery and taproom in St. Joseph, Minnesota // Photo via Milk & Honey's Facebook

Milk & Honey’s new cidery and taproom in St. Joseph, Minnesota // Photo via Milk & Honey’s Facebook

Milk & Honey Ciders announced Tuesday that their new cidery and taproom in St. Joseph will open on August 25. The cidery is set on 10 acres and will feature an orchard, cidermaking production facility, and taproom where visitors can taste through several varieties of cider.

The list of specialty brews and beverages found at the 2017 Minnesota State Fair was released last week. New beers include Dill Pickle Beer from Barley John’s, “The Shandlot” shandy from Bauhaus Brew Labs, and the “Duke of Cuke” cucumber lager by Insight. Read the full list of 28 drinks that includes descriptions of each and a map of where to find ‘em.

A new bill called “Cheers Wisconsin!” aims to make the state’s alcohol industry more agile. Republican representatives behind the bill want to re-evaluate the outdated three-tier system, which separates the creation, distribution, and sales of alcohol, in favor of more lenient regulations to promote industry growth and to give out more Class B licenses.

The Brewers Association published its midyear report on the craft brewing industry last week. The report shows slowed, yet continued growth in the craft beer sector, indicating the industry is maturing and the market is getting more competitive. The number of American breweries reached an all-time high with 5,562 in operation and thousands more in planning, and the economic impact around the nation continues to grow as the craft beer industry supports 129,000 jobs.

San Francisco’s oldest craft brewery and home of the steam beer, Anchor Brewing, has been sold to Japan’s Sapporo Holdings Ltd. for an undisclosed price. Anchor plans to continue making craft beer as it has for years. Anchor Distilling was not part of the sale and will become its own company.

Cold Spring Brewing Company, makers of a variety of beverages including Third Street Brewhouse beers and a number other beer brands contract-brewed at the facility, has been sold to Brynwood Partners in Connecticut. Plans are to retain the current employees and keep business running as usual in Cold Spring.

Utepils Brewing Company is distributing to liquor stores for the first time. Three of their beers, including Alt 1848, Copacetic, and Ewald the Golden can be purchased in tallboy four-packs at your local liquor.

Spruce Soda Co. is growing. While their natural, homemade beverages have been on tap around the state of Minnesota, their Ginger Beer and Orange Blossom Tonic are now available in four-packs, notably at Surdyk’s, Henry & Son, and Thomas Liquors. Bet that Orange Blossom Tonic makes a mean G&T.

Sometimes grocers make alcohol, and sometimes that alcohol is not so bad. ALDI recently took home a Double Gold award for its Highland Blank Scotch at the Melbourne International Spirits Competition. The whisky won on account of color, body, finish, and its $17 price tag.


Tater Tot Hautedish at Haute Dish // Photo via Haute Dish's website

Tater Tot Hautedish at Haute Dish // Photo via Haute Dish’s website

After seven years of business, one of the food anchors of the North Loop has closed its doors. Haute Dish was one of three Twin Cities restaurants once helmed by chef Landon Schoenefeld. (Nighthawks on 38th and Nicollet remains open, and delicious.)

LRx: Loring & Pharmacy Bar will open this week in the wake of the closing of Loring Pasta Bar. The restaurant has changed ownership, and the name LRx pays homage to the building’s pharmaceutical history.

The new foods list for the MN State Fair was also released last week, and the Star Tribune is hosting a tasting party on August 15 if you’re impatient. The party is a benefit for Second Harvest Heartland; admission is free with a nonperishable food donation at the door.

Chef Gavin Kaysen was duly complimented last week when Al Roker visited both his restaurants in only two days’ time. Whether in need of a celebrity sighting or a taste of duck a l’orange, Spoon and Stable and Bellecour have both.

An indoor food truck court called Seventh Street Truckyard is moving into the space next to New Bohemia on St. Paul’s West 7th Street. The concept will feature several roadtrip-themed food trucks that will be vending pizzas with specialty toppings like alligator, street tacos, fried chicken, and ice cream. They plan to open by August 21.


The Soap Factory is undergoing a dramatic renovation and reopening next April // Photo via The Soap Factory's Facebook

The Soap Factory is undergoing a dramatic renovation and reopening next April // Photo via The Soap Factory’s Facebook

The Soap Factory is about to undergo a major renovation to restore the 130-year old historic building, add exhibition spaces and artist studios, and open a restaurant on the premises. The $6.2 million project will kick off this September and conclude in April 2018. The Soap’s programming during construction will continue via projects that explore concepts of space-making.

The Minnesota State Arts Board awards grants yearly in July, and this year’s funding is down by about 12 percent across the board. This affects operational budgets for grant recipients such as the Minnesota Opera, Walker Art Center, and the Duluth Superior Symphony Orchestra who say they will strategize to make up the difference.

The Minnesota Lynx will debut in a video game on PS4 and Xbox One platforms. The new NBA Live 18 comes out next month added the WNBA for the first time. The inclusion is a big step for the publicity of the league and an exciting feature for its players.

The Mill is The Growler’s regular digest of all things new and notable in the world of food, drink, and culture. Stop back weekly for restaurant news, brewery rumors, and more. Have some news you want to share? Got some gossip to dish? Drop us a line at [email protected]