Author's note: For our first Microbrewery of the Week, we sat down with Lucid Brewing's co-founders Eric Biermann and Jon Messier at their brewery in Minnetonka.
How did your brewery come to be?
Eric: Originally, Jon and I were working on the same plan but just didn't really know each other was. I was working on it for quite a few years, homebrewed for what seems like forever. I took a bunch of chemistry classes at a local community college, attended American Brewers Guild, learned the real details of brewing. Hung out in Sacramento for a while. Came back here and started working on what it took to get a brewery together. Kind of working on that beforehand knowing that the brewing school so I would know how to brew for my brewery. Then, through the Minnesota Home Brewer's Association, Jon found out I was working on a brewery. He was working on a brewery. We ended up at Stub and Herbs, of course had a beer, and put our heads together and we were able to move forward with it.
Jon: That was July [of 2010]. Since then, it's been kind of a whirlwind. We started construction [at the brewery] in June [of 2011] and it took until middle of October before we got everything lined up to actually brew a batch. That was us quitting our jobs working full-time construction, bringing in contractors to do the work we couldn't do. It's been 90-100 hours a week since last year so I kind of forget when dates occurred. And there's been a few beers in between.
How did you name your brewery?
Eric: It's a name my wife came up with. I used to work a corporate job, she works a corporate job. You work pretty crazy days and we have two kids, so you come home and you can't really relax; you have to get dinner on the table, entertain the kids, play with the kids. But finally, when the kids go to bed, you sit down on the couch after you grab a beer and enjoy that beer. You can finally clear your mind and have that moment of lucidness, lucidity before the beer puts you to sleep. You get that brief window of clarity in thinking.
What's your favorite beer you make?
Jon: We just released a beer called Dyno. It's nice and light in color. It's full hop flavor. We use a blend of hops that lend to a nice tangerine and pine aroma and flavor. It's got a very clean malt build, too, so it's got a nice dry finish. Easy drinking but really packs a lot of the hop aroma and character. We just released it so that's my favorite right now.
Eric: For me, it depends on the day. If you want to drink while you're at work, I'd drink Air. It's lower alcohol. But if you have a real tough day, a couple Cammos will relax you (laughs).
What's your favorite beer someone else makes?
Jon: I got a chance to go over to Belgium a couple of years ago and me and my wife went to a little brewery called Cantillon. Pretty much anything they make I will buy in large quantities, if you can find it.
Eric: If I go to a bar, I usually try to find something local. Steel Toe Size 7, Surly Bender, Summit's Red Horizon are some of my favorite beers I try to order. A lot of times when I go out, if I see something on tap that I haven't had, that's what I'm having no matter what style it is or who makes it. Just something new to try.
What are your hopes for the brewery's future?
Jon: The goal for growth is to fill [the brewery] with fermentation tanks. Hopefully our beer sells well enough to do that. Right now, we're so new the goal is to pay the bills every month and get the beer out the door. We put everything into the beer itself. We're planning a few new beers coming out, but we really put a lot of effort into the quality control. In the end, our goal is to make great beer. Number two to that is pay the bills (laughs).
What is the best piece of advice someone gave you before you started?
Jon: I went to meet the owner of Penn Brewery - it's a Summit-sized German brewery out in Pittsburgh. We were walking around and he was showing me all the processes and he told me, "Go sell insurance or real estate instead. You'll be way more successful (laughs)." I took that to heart when we were putting the brewery together. It's a difficult business; it's a manufacturing job, it's a real physical job. It takes a lot of work, takes a lot of effort, your product has to be great. There's a lot that goes into it to make a successful business and I think that's what he was trying to tell me. So I took that to heart when he kind of yelled at me for thinking it was a good idea.
Eric: The one that sticks with my wife the most is when I met with one of the former brewers of a brand that's no longer around. He had more of a negative spin on his advice but his advice was "behind every successful brewery is a very successful wife who gives you money." Unfortunately, my wife was there to hear that and it stuck to this day (laughs). The more practical advice I got was from [Surly founder] Omar Ansari. He basically said, "You may be passionate about this but you better not ever think about treating it like a hobby or you'll never survive."
Describe the local craft beer scene in 11 words or less.
Eric: Lots of talented brewers, going strong, looking to expand rapidly.
If you're not drinking beer, what are you drinking?
Eric: Water and coffee.
Jon: I drink a lot of coffee. But scotch, red wine, Irish whiskeys. If I wasn't making beer, I'd be making wine or whiskey. We sometimes drink what's called a hot scotchy. It's when you brew a batch a beer and collect the wort that has all the intense sugar and flavor. You get that right away and take an ounce of that and an ounce of scotch, swirl that in a glass and sip it.
Eric: It's about 170 degrees so it's nice and warm.
Jon: It's really rich and will make your day really unproductive (laughs).
Lucid Brewing is based in Minnetonka. Tours of their brewery are available - more information can be found on their website. Check them out on Facebook and Twitter.
Where can you find Lucid's beers? A list of bars, restaurants and liquor stores that sell Lucid is available on their website.
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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