While 2020 has been a year of setbacks, adaptations and recoveries for many breweries around Minnesota, one brewery has steadily forged its way forward.
We recently had the opportunity to sit down with Eric Petersen, Sales Director of Brass Foundry Brewing Co. We’d begun noticing the recognizable Brass Foundry tap handles at bars and restaurants earlier this year and assumed it was a new brewery in Minnesota. We were wrong.
“We released our first brew the Friday before Labor Day of 2018,” Petersen told us on a pleasantly sunny and warm Sunday afternoon in October. “So we’ve been in the market for just a little bit under two and a half years.”
Located in an industrial park in Long Lake, Minnesota, Brass Foundry is the only known brewery (as of writing) in Minnesota operating without a taproom (excluding Surly’s recent decision to close the beerhall due to COVID-19).
“From the origination of the company,” Petersen told us, “there was some looking at some taprooms. A couple of them didn’t really work out. In the meantime, as we were looking at one in Minnetonka, I hit the ground with a growler and our Question 63 IPA, and I basically out-sold our production capacity within the taproom that we were looking at.” From there, they began re-assessing their goals and production needs, ultimately deciding to become a distribution brewery. “It’s been a very good choice, we think. It’s helping us grow, which was our original intention. We wanted to get out here on the market and expand that market.” Instead, Brass Foundry has worked with retailers and distributors to become widely available throughout Minnesota; they’re also quickly expanding into Wisconsin.
Despite its current location and the freedom found working outside the ties of a taproom, the name Brass Foundry — coincidentally enough — comes from a taproom space they had looked at early on which was, in fact, an old brass foundry in downtown Minneapolis.
Besides finding inspiration in that first space, the name Brass Foundry carries a second, double meaning. “Brass is a metal,” Petersen continued, “craftmanship. You have to work with the form. And we look at our brews the same way.”
As far as the beer, Brass Foundry focuses on brewing beer that will reach the widest, most all-encompassing palate. “One of our slogans is ‘We made this beer for you.’ […] We brew to the middle of the slice of the pie, so to say — what’s going to appeal to the majority of the palates within that taste profile? We’re targeted at making beers that are consumable for the consumer and delivering them at a good price.” Beers currently available in cans on the market include a Cream Ale, Question 63 IPA, Dock Pounder Golden Ale, Crazy Hair Blonde Ale, Ferry Road West Coast IPA, Angry Loon Lager and Amber Ale. In addition to cans, Brass Foundry also brews a Forged Series of limited releases only available on tap which have previously included a chocolate stout, vanilla porter, smash golden ale, brown ale, juicy IPA and raspberry lager.
Just because Brass Foundry’s beers are widely consumable, though, doesn’t mean they can’t also be award-winning. “That there,” Petersen said, pointing at a can of the Question 63 IPA, “is the beer we started with. [It was] Bronze Medal Winner in the New York International Beer Competition for its category this year. Over 600 entries from 14 countries.”
“And in the same competition,” Petersen continued, “…our cream ale won the Silver Medal in the New York International for its beer category. I think we were notified right as COVID was hitting.” The cream ale also currently makes up 60-65% of Brass Foundry’s production. “It’s pretty much our fastest-moving product right now,” Petersen told us, “with the Question 63 being number two. And then it’s a toss-up between the Dock Pounder Golden Ale and Amber Ale.”
In a year when COVID-19 has really rocked many businesses — including many within Minnesota’s craft beer industry — it’s encouraging to see Brass Foundry not only surviving but thriving, a true testament to an excellent business model and outstanding products. And no wonder — with our formal business concluded, Eric invited us to hangout and talk off-the-record over cold beers. All we’ll say is — next time you see the Cream Ale or Question 63 IPA in the liquor store or at a bar, don’t pass it up!
For more from Brass Foundry Brewing Co., check out their website or follow them on Facebook or Instagram.
– Adam & Katie, Ale Adventures