“A falling knife has no handle” may be a strange proverb to hear outside of the kitchen, but at the newly-opened Falling Knife Brewing Co. in Northeast Minneapolis, it’s the slogan they brew, serve and live by.
“It’s an old restaurant term,” explained chief revenue officer and co-founder Dan Herman during our visit. “Don’t do the risky thing; just let it drop and then pick it up.” Falling Knife Brewing, though, has taken a counter-intuitive approach and grabbed the falling knife without hesitation.
Opening a new brewery in an area that already seems over-saturated (NE Minneapolis) and in a location where a previous brewery failed (NorthGate Brewing) may seem to many like a risky move. But Herman and the team at Falling Knife think it’s a risk worth taking.
“We think there’s plenty of room for good beer in the Minneapolis/Twin Cities beer scene. […] There’s a difference in vision here […] and the logo kind of pokes fun at that, ya know. Like, we know we’re gonna take some licks, but we’re at least having a good time doing it.”
Clearly the risks have been worth taking. The reception from the community has been nothing short of warm and welcoming.
“We opened last Friday, and it was insane,” Herman says. “We got really, really busy for 11 straight hours. We had a line out the door [he points to the side entrance], we had a line out that door [he points to the front entrance]. It was a bonkers day, but it was really validating because it was a lot of work we did to get people here in the first place.”
Some of that work included building brand awareness even before Falling Knife opened its doors to the public. Launch parties around the Twin Cities were a huge success and big step towards the public associating the Falling Knife name with the brand.
“We blew through our first keg [at the Grumpy’s launch party] in three hours,” Herman says. “Somebody had to drive me back here to grab [another] keg.”
Another “falling knife” Herman and his team grabbed was the brewing process and strategy.
“We’re a hop-forward American brewery,” he said. “We’re all hop-heads, and also that’s what the market wants. But we have a deep affinity for German and Belgian styles. So the first beer we brewed was a Pilsner, and people tell us that’s crazy.” Crazy or not, it’s the same beer that Grumpy’s sold three kegs of in the first week.
If you visit Falling Knife’s taproom now, you may be shocked by the complete transformation. In contrast to NorthGate Brewing’s old English pub-style, Falling Knife takes on a very clean, simple look. Herman points out Megan Blanchette — the interior designer they used with Kaas Wilson in Bloomington — who happens to be in for a drink and is responsible for the complete makeover. The taproom also has more physical space than the previous one.
“We do really kind of have two specific vibes in our taproom. We have the front one, which is like communal third space — home, work, and then the third place you want to hang out. No TV’s, it’s really that relaxed area here. You go into the back taproom [and] there’s TV’s, there’s five pinball machines, it’s more that bar-vibe, more high-energy.”
Low tables in the front taproom and high tops in the back further differentiate the spaces. One thing they both share in common, though, is table service, which is really important to Herman.
“Rachel’s out here walking around for this room,” he says, pointing her out. “Jimmy’s in the back room. You know, we talk about going to a taproom and there being a communal element to that. But then you have to stop what you’re doing, get up, go get in line, grab a beer, come back. And half the time you get through that line, get your beer and like ‘Well, I should get back into line…’ The ability to just let people breathe in this space is a big thing that we truly, truly believe in.”
A breathe-able space isn’t the only thing Herman believes in.
“The beers that we’re making, I think, are pretty incredible.”
He attributes that to another falling knife — Robby Denaway (previously of Surly and Fair State) who they hired on as Head Brewer.
“When we were getting this all going, we were having conversations with people and like ‘Who’s the next person that deserves a shot?’ And his name kept coming up.”
Chief brewing officer Tom Berg and brewer Charles Chapman (previously of Bauhaus and Sisyphus) round out the three-man brewing dream team.
There were an impressive 10 beers on tap when we visited, ranging from NE IPA to Coffee Stout, Belgian Strong Golden Ale to German Pilsner, DDH IPA to Fruited Sour. Everything we had was fantastic, which is high praise considering we’re pretty picky about our IPA’s! With a full capacity of 16 taps, Herman hopes to have something for everyone.
“Variety’s a big thing for us…we didn’t want to open with four beers. We wanted to open with 16 so that anybody can come here and get something that they want. It’s big for us to meet people where they are, not only literally with just the table service…”
If a falling knife is something to keep an eye out for in the kitchen, then so is the newly-opened Falling Knife Brewing Co. in NE Minneapolis. They get two cut-off thumbs up from us, and we highly recommend a visit!
Here’s our full review (categories are rated out of five ):
- Beer Selection (number and styles available): 🍺🍺🍺🍺🍺
- Beer Taste (expected of style): 🍺🍺🍺🍺🍺
- Location (find-ability/accessibility): 🍺🍺🍺🍺 🍺
- Atmosphere/Venue: 🍺🍺🍺🍺🍺
- Service (of staff): 🍺🍺🍺🍺🍺