MINNEAPOLIS - The history of beer brewed in Minnesota dates back well before prohibition. Back then it was hand poured, bottled and shipped - much like Lucid Brewing of Minnetonka does today.
Owners Eric Biermann and Jon Messier quit their jobs back in June of 2011 hoping to tap into the growing success of craft beer. Bierman was an international accountant and Messier an aerospace engineer.
"We call this Cammo; it's nine percent alcohol, double pale ale," said Biermann while wrapping the label on a bottle of Lucid's new beer.
It's the first bottled venture for the two. They raised $400,000 to build a brewery in an unassuming business complex in Minnetonka. They've sold kegs before, but Cammo is the first batch to hit store shelves.
"Definitely taken us longer to fill the bottles and ship them out the door than it is to actually sell the bottles," explained Bierman.
The suds do sell. They simply cannot brew it fast enough. Sales entail the plainest of phone pitches.
"Would you be interested in sampling it and carrying it on your shelves?" that's the question Biermann asks when calling liquor stores, "And we have like a 90 percent success rate with that little schpeel."
A few hours of calls and the demand for beer brewed in our own backyard is so great stores purchase it taste and sight unseen.
"We're at capacity; we're selling it as fast as we can make it right now," said Kevin Welch of Boom Island Brewing Company.
The boon can be found at Boom Island as well. Kevin Welch is one mean brewing machine. Tucked away in a corner office building in north Minneapolis, Boom Island also brews, bottles and labels every batch. Four months in and Welch is totally tapped in.
"We've just hit the ground running and I can't slow down that's why I'm here until midnight tonight," said Welch.
Boom Island and Lucid are two of the 12 new breweries in the state to open last year. It brings the total number of breweries in Minnesota to 43 and counting.
"I think it's just going to get bigger and bigger," added Brian Lonberg of Barley John's Brew Pub in New Brighton.
The growth is thanks in part to brewpubs like Barley John's, which opened 12 years ago and has been able to tap into its own craft beer success.
But despite craft beer's growing popularity, Minnesota lags behind other states with similar populations.
"You go to the city of Portland, absolutely every bar, brewpub you go to is serving nothing but craft beer," explained Jason Alvey of The Four Firkins craft beer store.
The city of Portland alone has 40 breweries. And, in 2011, the state of Oregon counted more than 150 craft breweries. Brewing is big business in Colorado as well, where there are more than a 100 breweries - twice the amount of Minnesota today.
"At one point before prohibition Minnesota like almost every other state - had hundreds of breweries - in fact they're were over four hundred, little tiny regional breweries," described Alvey.
It's a history Alvey says is proof that Minnesota is a prime spot for more breweries.
Four Firkins only sells craft beer. No wine, no hard liquor. Only brown bottles in the 22 ounce variety or by the six pack.
"It was just a matter of time until people realized that beer doesn't have to be yellow fizzy stuff with no flavor," said Alvey.
These days, with more flavorful beers and more selection, it seems like there is an endless stream of people who are just getting into it.
Add Minnesota to the list of the growing craft beer popularity, built on the state's history of beer brewed, bought and sold locally.
Lucid Brewing is making a limited edition Saison that will be available in June. Through a contest run on KARE 11's Twitter and Facebook pages, the name Summertide was chosen as a name for the beer. Part of the proceeds raised from the beer's sales will be donated to a local non-profit organization. More information about Summertide will be posted on kare11.com when it becomes available.
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