Food & Drink

Get to Know the Head Brewers Behind Your Favorite Twin Cities Beers

Published On 12/06/2016 Published On 12/06/2016
brewers minneapolis
Courtesy of Dangerous Man Brewery
Courtesy of Tin Whiskers

Derek Brown, Tin Whiskers Brewing

St. Paul

About: As a first generation American, Derek was taught to value beer early on through his family. Like so many of us often do, he started cooking at home and, along with that came an appreciation for better beers. While seeking out the kinds of brews that don’t always show up in your local liquor stores he started making his own.
Favorite style of beer: “Any wheat or variation using lots of wheat. Unfiltered please.”
Favorite beer brewed: “A big Dubbel that I packed and forget about. I found the cases of home brew behind the Christmas tree box a year later. I was impressed with the flavors that had been created without a fidgety home brewer tinkering with it.
Noteworthy beer: “Wheatstone Bridge. In every brew we use a lot of chamomile flower and honey. Using those raw ingredients is rare, breweries typically would only do this seasonally, but we do it every week.”

Courtesy of Indeed Brewing Company

Josh Bischoff, Indeed Brewery


About: Josh Bischoff was first introduced to “real beer” through his two Bulgarian roommates in college and while working at St. Paul’s Green Mill Brewing Company, before making his way into home brewing. Eventually Bischoff started his professional tutelage under Green Mill’s head brewer, Ron Flett, before moving on to become an assistant at Town Hall Brewery in 2001.
Favorite style of beer: “I've been a brewing professional for 15 years or so now and I'm still not tired of hops, so I generally go for pale ales or IPAs!”
Favorite beer brewed: “I would have to say my personal favorite is LSD (lavender, sunflower honey and dates).  The amount of time spent working on a recipe varies greatly -- some come together in a few minutes, others take much longer.  This one kicked around in the back of my mind for a couple years before it really came together.”
Noteworthy beer: “This one is tough to say for sure, I generally don't spend much time reading reviews and I'm not sure volume sold is the deciding factor either.  So I guess LSD for this as well?”

Courtesy of Dangerous Man Brewery

Rob Miller, Dangerous Man Brewery


About: Having been introduced to craft beer shortly after having started college, Rob Miller would eventually find himself surrounded by the budding craft beer seen out in Missoula, Montana. Miller wouldn’t get into brewing himself until moving back to Minneapolis, when he started to brew and experiment at home.
Favorite style of beer: “It changes so often, depending on the season and what I am into that day. I am really into sours and barrel-aged beers as we are having so much fun with those here at Dangerous Man.”
Favorite beer brewed: “Imperial Coconut Stout on Rum Barrels. One of our first ever barrel aged beers and we we're all blown away with the results.”
Noteworthy beer: “I think the Chocolate Milk Stout was the first beer that really set us apart and now the Peanut Butter Porter has continued to set us apart.”

Amanda Mae Davies

Deb Loch, Urban Growler Brewing


About: Deb Loch is no stranger to beer --  the massive brewery scene in her native Wisconsin introduced her to a lot of different styles of brew. Loch started home brewing back in the ‘90s and she experimented with a lot of different recipes -- one of which actually involved a Christmas tree (which she doesn’t recommend doing). Eventually, she opted to leave her career in the medical device industry in order to go pro.
Favorite style of beer: “Maibock and Russian Imperial Stouts.”
Favorite beer brewed: “My favorite beer brewed here is probably our Imperial Smoked Chipotle Porter.  It was the first time we did a Partigyle on our system. That’s where the stronger first runnings go to one beer and the less strong second runnings go to another beer.”  
Noteworthy beer: “Our CowBell Cream Ale for two reasons, first it’s easy drinking for Craft Beer lovers and non-craft beer drinkers aren’t scared off by it.  Secondly – it’s a different style in a sea of IPAs.”

Courtesy of Insight Brewing

Ryan Mihm, Insight Brewing Co.


About: After bouncing around as a bartender in Minneapolis, Portland, ME, and Austin (and a few other locales), Ryan Mihm spent a lot of time researching various craft brewers as a way to provide good customer service. While in Maine, Mihm decided that beer was more than just a hobby and began to look into the different local craft breweries. He eventually took on his first real gig working at Allagash Brewery in Portland.
Favorite style of beer: “I go with stouts and saisons.”
Favorite beer brewed: “It's hard to choose. Saison Mihm at Allagash was important in my brewing life. My own recipe, my own spices and hop selection.”
Noteworthy beer: “I think we offer a wide variety of styles.  We try and push the envelope when it comes to style. We don't stick to a style in general and are able to make good tasting beers for everyone to enjoy.”

Courtesy of Summit Brewing Co.

Damian McConn, Summit Brewing Co.

West 7th

About:  Damian McConn spent five years studying brewing and distilling science in the UK before moving on to work for the Guinness brewery in London. McConn has developed a beer philosophy that hinges on “Respect, perfectionism, technical excellence. Nae gimmicky shite.”  
Favorite style of beer: “Porter. A style with incredible history, influence and above all, flavor.”
Favorite beer brewed: “To date probably Keller Pils, but the next brew is always on the horizon.”
Noteworthy beer: “Summit Extra Pale Ale. A hugely influential beer that continues to set the standard in terms of consistency, complexity and balance.”

Courtesy of Fair State Brewing Co.

Niko Tonks, Fair State Brewing Co.


About:  Fair State Co-Founder Evan Sallee originally got Niko Tonks into the idea of drinking higher caliber brews. After becoming an avid home brewer while attending grad school in Texas, Tonks decided to take it to the next level and started emailing and cold calling breweries seeking an internship before finding himself at Southern Star Brewing in Conroe, Texas and then at Live Oak in Austin.
Favorite beer style: “Pilsners. Both German and Czech interpretations thereof. We make a German-style Pils at Fair State, and it's pretty much the only beer I want to drink at the end of the day.”
Favorite beer brewed: “Personally, my favorite beer that I've ever been a part of is Live Oak Pilz, which is my desert island beer. Presently, my favorite is our Lichtenhainer.”
Noteworthy beer: “I think it's the aforementioned Lichtenhainer. A 100% smoked malt barrel fermented sour wheat beer. It's weird in all the ways I enjoy being weird.”

Jason Sowards, Harriet Brewing Co. (closing January 2017)


About: While getting a degree in chemical engineering, Jason Sowards got into the idea of pairing food with different beers and wines (like all good chemical engineers do). That led toward the dark path of research and eventually recipe development. Sowards got into commercial brewing after having been laid off from his chemical engineering job.
Favorite style of beer: “Belgium Style.”
Favorite beer brewed: “First time I ever brewed a Hefeweizen and for sure the WestSide.”
Noteworthy beer: “The beers that we make are representation of classic old world style Belgium and German ales. We know our place, I study the old world style not American style brewing. The history behind the Belgium beers are incredible and provides me with endless amount of education. WestSide sets us apart from the rest!”

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1. Tin Whiskers Brewing Co. 125 9th St E Ste 127, Saint Paul, MN 55101

Tin Whiskers is your typical American microbrewery in that they make a wide variety of styles, but what sets this brewing company apart is its founders and their dedication to science … and its wall to ceiling windows. All electrical engineers who bonded over their love of beer, the founders take all of their recipes through a scientific process that gets as nitpicky as shipping the right water and using different yeast for every brew. All of the beers are named after electrical engineering terms that make absolutely no sense to us, but what matters is that the Flip Switch IPA is drinkable but still hoppy and the Watts Wheat Wine is spiced, complex, and not overly sweet.

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2. Indeed Brewing Company 711 15th Avenue NE, Minneapolis, MN 55413

Indeed is all about community from the fun-loving feel of its warehouse taproom and charming patio to its dedication to community outreach. There are frequently events going on like festivals with food and music to simple flight nights where you can sample some of the beers ranging from the hoppy flagship Midnight Ryder black IPA, to the highly drinkable Session Sour #3, to the formidable specialty Rum King imperial stout. Indeed hosts a rotating list of food trucks so that you can soak up those higher ABV beers with the likes of O’Cheeze’s gourmet grilled cheeses. Pro tip: it has a handy beer calendar on its website so you can easily tell when seasonal beers will be on tap.

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3. Dangerous Man Brewing Company 1300 2nd Street NE, Minneapolis, MN 55418

Dangerous Man is our favorite type of gathering spot: great beer and a comfortable, warm atmosphere for groups or chatting up someone new. There are 12 rotating beers on tap behind the reclaimed wood bar that endeavor to cover the four major bases … hoppy, light, dark, and strong. For strong we vote for the malty, 10.4% Belgian Golden Strong and for hoppy the citrusy House IPA is smooth and bitter. There’s no kitchen, so feel free to bring your own food or order from one of the takeout places nearby. If you’re looking to take something home, stop by the growler shop next door for your beer mongering pleasures.

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4. Urban Growler Brewing Company 2325 Endicott St, Saint Paul, MN 55114

Urban Growler’s taproom is a family friendly, high-ceilinged warehouse with warm lighting, American bar food, and 12 beers on tap. After becoming the first female-owned brewery in the state, it’s still making waves in the craft beer scene with unique flavors (i.e. the Jalapeño Cream Ale) and a dedication to darker beers. In the sea of microbrewery IPA’s, Urban Growler prides itself on the dangerously drinkable golden CowBell Creme Ale with its complex, malty flavor and the the special brews like heavy-hitting barrel-aged Russian Imperial Stouts (one aged in a red wine cask and the other in bourbon). Pair your pints with nachos, tater tots, or a pile of Midwestern mac and cheese.

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5. Insight Brewing Company 2821 E Hennepin Avenue, Minneapolis, MN 55413

At Insight Brewing flavor is king and every one of their beers on tap in the light-soaked, buzzing taproom is loaded with complex and complimentary notes. Go on a tour and then take one of the widely varying styles for a test drive, like the fruity and mildly herbal Sunken City saison, the lightly hopped Hell Chicken brewed with Japanese Yuzu fruit, or the malty, chocolatey Devil’s Companion London-style porter. Checkout the brewmaster vault beers for flavors like the light, biscuit-forward Golden Cutter ale or the tart, refreshing Blackberry Saison. If the jam-packed beers aren’t enough of a meal for your mighty stomach, there is a food truck to keep you sated and sober(ish) while you gab with the horde of hip beer lovers like yourself.

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6. Summit Brewing Company 910 Montreal Circle, St Paul, MN 55102

The tap room at Summit Brewing Company is actually a giant beer hall with communal tables that features food trucks, live music, movie screenings, and 12 beers on tap ranging from seasonal and specialty to flagship. Sip on a limited release barleywine or the Coffee Milk Stout in the winter, or take the malty, toasty Maibock or the hoppy True Brit IPA for a spin on the patio. Bring your kids (and your loose pants) with you to enjoy flights, pints, and food truck fare.

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7. Fair State Brewing Cooperative 2506 Central Ave NE, Minneapolis, MN 55418

This Minneapolis brewery is one of the few brewery co-ops in the country where members get part-ownership rights and help design the beers. Fair State is the dream project of a group of college kids who wanted to start a community around their love of beer, and it's gone so far to make RateBeer's 2015 list of the best new breweries in the world. From a traditional black lager -- the Schwarzbier -- to plenty of sours and a pilsner, there's a wealth of Central European brewing going on at Fair State.

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8. Harriet Brewing 3036 Minnehaha Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55406

Harriet Brewing is all about traditional European-style beer in this sea of American craft. The brewers produce winning Belgian ales and German lagers and the taproom is host to many events and activities like live music … like any good beer hall, Harriet is all about atmosphere because it’s almost as important as what’s on tap. You will also find a number of popular food trucks lined up outside that you and your dog can enjoy (although we can’t say that there are any pooch trucks).