Starting a Craft Beverage Business

This event has been rescheduled due to weather. It will now be held on Wednesday, March 20.

Panel Discussion, February 20, (New Date: Wednesday, March 20) Urban Forage Winery & Cider House

Tomorrow is the day! I’m really looking forward to this panel discussion about how to start a craft brewery business . More broadly, I just love hearing about how people go about pursuing their dreams. I’m always looking for that moment when something goes from being a fantasy to a first step (Note to self: find that Maria Bamford clip!)

Panel Discussion – Starting a Craft Beverage Business
Wednesday, February 20 at 6:30 p.m. Rescheduled: Wednesday, March 20
Urban Forage Winery & Cider House
3016 East Lake Street
Minneapolis, MN 55406

The subject of a future QuOTeD episode, I’ll be moderating a discussion about the ups and downs of an alcoholic beverage startup. Panelists will include Chris Montana of Du Nord Craft Spirits, Kyle Sisco of Venn Brewing Company and Jeff Zeitler of Urban Forage Winery & Cider House.

Last summer I interviewed Michael Gill at Lake Monster Brewing for the Minnesota FringeCast, which was a podcast series I did for the Minnesota Fringe Festival. We were talking about being a judge of what’s good, whether we’re talking about beer or musical theater. When I asked him why we were seeing so many breweries pop up, he didn’t hesitate: The Surly Bill.

By the time a bill gets a legislative committee hearing, the discussion is essentially over. The votes have been counted and the outcome is typically known. It would be more interesting to hear the debate before the various stakeholders have ironed out the details. Nonetheless, the beer-wine-spirits enthusiasts might enjoy this bit of history. It’s a recording from the Commerce and Regulatory Reform Committee of the Minnesota House of Representatives (April 13, 2011) where they are discussing the so-called Surly Bill.

(Source: Minnesota House of Representatives )

In my notes, I had a question about how the Surly Bill happened. Did it just happen because some guy wanted to sell beer directly from his brewery? Or was there a campaign behind it? From what I heard from listening to the Commerce Committee hearing (see recording above), it sounds like if you make good beer, your customers will flood the Capitol to support you.

The reflection in the window at Du Nord Craft Spirits is so pretty!

Speaking of lobbying, I’ll be curious to know how Chris Montana’s background in politics and law helped prepare him for opening a distillery. And here’s Jeff Zeitler back in 2014 pushing for a bill that would put his urban winery on par with other wineries:

(Source: Minnesota House of Representatives )

It would be one of many challenges on the way to officially opening a taproom:

Earlier this year, the Zietlers recruited the help of Representative Jim Davnie and Senator Patricia Torres Ray in order to pass new legislation to change that discrepancy. “But the farm wineries came out strong against it, and the bill died in committee,” stated Jeff. “I was kind of heart broken after that happened.”

Longfellow Nokomis Messenger

As I recall, there turned out to be a twist in all of this. I’ll have to ask Jeff about it tomorrow.

Of course it was super fun to sample the fares of our esteemed panelists. We also included Lawless Distillery on the tour since it was originally slated to be part of the panel and it was in the neighborhood. Fun times! In addition to some very fine products, we just loved the spaces that people were making. I’m surprised there isn’t an HGTV series about it… or maybe there is?

The on-site emphasis fits into the couple’s drive to make Venn a neighborhood pillar. They envision it as an uber-family-friendly space that has absolutely zero barriers to entry. That means you can walk in on a Monday night and not be ambushed by drunken karaoke.

City Pages (2017)

I’m curious about what makes one suited for opening a craft beverage business. There’s the thing you want to do, make beer or whatever. Then there are the zillion other things you have to do to do that thing. I thought it might be fun to keep track of the various hats that are mentioned during the discussion tomorrow night: marketer, bookkeeper, designer, tech support, manager and general DIYer who can do everything from refinish wood floors to installing signage. And of course there is the lobbying I already mentioned, so let’s add lawyer to the list.

Venn Brewing had an airy feel that was lovely. No drunken karaoke here!

I’m really looking forward to hearing about how one wakes up the owner of a craft beverage business. How do you stay in the game? And what’s the next challenge? Hopefully the weather will cooperate! (it did not!)

QuOTeD Social & Storytelling

It’s just a coincidence that the QuOTeD podcast will be at the Urban Forage Winery & Cider House two days after the panel discussion. We are hosting a storytelling event. It’s free and open to the public and for everyone. It’s going to be fun. Give it a whirl. Here’s more information.

When will the QuOTeD Podcast episode about this panel discussion be ready?

As I said, we’ll be making a podcast episode based on this panel discussion. The best way to learn about when that is ready is to subscribe to the podcast. You can also subscribe to the QuOTeD newsletter, which will be especially useful for those who aren’t super comfortable with navigating podcasts yet.

QuOTeD Social & Storytelling

You’re invited…

QuOTeD Social
Friday, February 22 at 7 p.m.
Urban Forage Winery & Cider House
3016 East Lake Street
Minneapolis, Minnesota 55406

It just takes one good question to spark an evening of stories and we want to include yours in a future episode of the podcast. Whether you’re moved to answer the question (revealed to those who show up) or would rather just soak up a good time, please come! Our guests have really enjoyed these gatherings in the past and it is our pleasure to host another one. For the latest information about this event including any special instructions (nothing too onerous, we promise), either let us know that you’re interested in coming or check back here for updates. You can also follow and share the event on Facebook. That said, RSVPs aren’t needed. Just show up! We’d love to see you!

Special Assignment

Part 1

1-23-2019 – For past QuOTeD Socials we would suggest a pre-event special assignment for our guests to do and this time is no different. If you want to play, get a used envelope or any handy scrap of paper you can use to make a list. Write the heading: “QuOTeD Podcast – Feb. 22”. We suggest putting this on your fridge, bathroom mirror or some other place where you’ll see it every day. Stay tuned for further instructions. In the meantime, consider types of lists. What kind of list are we going to make? We’ll see.

QuOTeD Podcast pre-event special assignment. Start a list.

Part 2: Make a List

1-30-2019 – Think of some things that you have that you “should” let go but you just can’t bring yourself to do it. Make a list of the first few things that come to mind. Add to the list as more things come to mind over the next week. You can write your list on the envelope in Part 1, but any paper will do.

Our History with Urban Forage Winery and Cider House

We have a history with Urban Forage and it is our pleasure to be making this place a part of our plans. The owner Jeff Zeitler and I met on a committee that was charged with starting a community garden. Then when Jeff and his wife Gita decided to pursue a dream and open a winery, they asked me to produce a video for their Kickstarter campaign. A few years later, it is so cool to see the business take form. They’ve managed to take a vacated pawnshop and create a very nice atmosphere for enjoying their offerings of various fruit wines and ciders.

Jeff and Gita Zeitler

Jeff and Gita on the Podcast

It’s true, Jeff and Gita as well as their two kids have appeared on an episode of QuOTeD. The family attended a QuOTeD social where we asked our guests to tell us about their first cars. It was a fun night! Jeff also shows up in our very first episode about what it means to be grounded. I really appreicated what he had to say about getting stuff done (like start a business): “I just did the work. I put my head down and did the work.” Later he played an art-collecting dentist in a story we made up about a painting. He did some really good improv work, which we actually recorded at the winery.

10 Ideas for How to Get Some Damn Ideas

Last November I took on the challenge to post an episode of QuOTeD every day for the month. My friends Dave and Megumi also participated in National Podcast Post Month (NaPodPoMo). On By the Bootstraps, Dave talked about idea generation and asked listeners about where they get their ideas. I just discovered a response I scribbled down at the time and thought I’d share it here. Sorry for the late reply, Dave. But here it is.

Some Ideas about Some Ideas

    1. Recognize the ideas you already have. Ideas float by all of the time. Notice them and keep a notebook.
    2. Define and guard quiet times. Instead of listening to NPR in the morning or popping in the earbuds on the train, experience the ambient noise. Be in the environment.
    3. Guard “the boring bits”, as Sherry Turkle calls them in her book Reclaiming Conversation: The Power of Talk in a Digital Age. The time you spend waiting to get an oil change doesn’t have to be filled with Facebook and the rest of it. Daydream instead.
    4. Yeah, daydream.

This page is blank. Where do the ideas come from when you're looking at a blank page?

    1. Read. Read anything. A novel. Trash. The paper. Just make sure it’s a linear experience without hyperlinks. The next distraction need not be a click away.
    2. Take a walk every day. In her podcast, Life Gets Better Now, Mary Hayes Grieco said something that helped me understand why I generally feel better when I walk. She said (roughly) people experience their intuition in different ways. If you’re a kinetic type, you need to move to get the juices going.
    3. Mine your social media feed. I know, I know. I said ditch it. But if you can contain it, Facebook posts might generate some ideas. Be careful. Facebook is also linked to feeling depressed.
    4. Sit down. Be still. You don’t sit down because you have an idea for a novel. You get an idea for a novel because you sit down. This goes back to guarding quiet time.
    5. Practice observing. I like to write about what I see. After a shift of waiting tables, I liked to sit at the bar with a notebook. But maybe you’d rather paint. I tried to learn how to draw a cat by watching a tutorial on YouTube. My cat turned out pretty good. And I learned to notice details about my own cat that I didn’t see before.
  1. Give yourself some structure. For NaPodPoMo, I decided to incorporate clips from old cassette tapes. I also ended every episode with a question, which is consistent with my usual podcast. By putting some rules around my project, arbitrary though they may have been, I don’t have to wander around in no man’s land.
  2. Challenge yourself. This list is a case in point. I was challenged to come up with 10 ideas. In other words, not every challenge has to be Mount Everest.
  3. Invite engagement. Interact with people. QuOTeD is all about engagement whether I am talking to individuals or hosting an open mic.
  4. Be in the world. Leave your house… without your mobile device. Sorry to sound like a broken record, but it can’t be said enough. If you’re feeling annoyed… Well that’s some information, isn’t it?
  5. Find your internal motivation. If you can’t find the internal motivation to do something, maybe the challenge needs tuning. Or maybe you need a different challenge.
  6. Experience the new. In The Charge Brendon Burchard talks about incorporating the new into our routines. This can be a big deal, for example, a trip planned months in advance. Or it can be simple. Try walking down an unfamiliar street, for example.
  7. Pound on the piano. I don’t play the piano but I play the piano.
  8. Bounce a ball. Shoot some hoops. You’ve seen a gym, right?
  9. Do something else. When you hit a wall, clean the bathroom. At least get something out of the day even if you’re creatively stuck. Warning: Do not confuse this with taking up any distraction, such as surfing the Internet. Be discerning.
  10. Poke at the Universe. Experiment. See what happens.
  11. Do more. When someone asks you to come up with 10 ways to generate ideas, make it twenty.

I Do Not Consume Podcasts

Could we just say what we mean? Do we mean ‘consume’ or ‘listen’?

by Rebekah Smith
Question of the Day

When I had a college radio show the station manager would scold us for using insider lingo on the air. “Say ‘Public Service Announcement’ and not ‘cart'”, he would insist. Carts were these boxy looking tapes where the PSAs and other promos lived. You could easily jam them into a player, sort of like an 8-track tape, which made them ideal for these short bits. Today as more and more jargon infiltrates the language, I wish there were a staff meeting where someone would stand up and say, “Stop doing that! You sound like an idiot!”

Continue reading “I Do Not Consume Podcasts”

Apologize When You’ve Done Something Wrong

On Facebook a friend shared the following post about apologies from the Instagram account of FeministVoice (December 21, 2016).

“lately i’ve been replacing my ‘i’m sorry’s with ‘thank you’s’ like instead of ‘sorry i’m late’ i’ll say ‘thanks for waiting for me’, or instead of ‘sorry for being such a mess’ i’ll say ‘thank you for loving me and caring about me unconditionally’ and it’s not only shifted the way i think and feel about myself but also improved my relationships with others who now get to receive my gratitude instead of my negativity.”

As of this writing, 58 people have liked the post and 54 have shared it.


“How do you know when you’ve heard a sincere apology?” is a question I’ve been asking for a future episode of my podcast, QuOTeD (now available). So the suggestion to substitute our sorries with our gratitude struck me a little funny. The more I thought about it, the more it seemed like a load of crap.

The impulse to rein in unnecessary apologies is understandable. But broadly replacing them with gratitude feels false. It discounts why we apologize.

What tells the truth? What connects? What heals? According to the handful of random people who responded to my question so far, this is exactly the purpose of an apology. It

Tells the truth.

Apologies move us through conflict. They are not the cause of our low self-esteem or the reason for negativity in our lives. Whereas these things might be exacerbated when we hide from our imperfections instead of embracing them, which an apology can help us do.

Sincere apologies tell the truth, connect and heal.

Unlike an apology, gratitude does not necessarily acknowledge the reality of the harmed party (i.e., the truth). In the case of the above post, gratitude is primarily concerned with the comfort of the offender who wants to avoid conflict. So, instead of facing how our actions may have negatively affected another, it’s easier to conflate apologies with self-hatred or attach them to our critics who demand perfection. Or we might have personal issues that make apologies difficult. Now “self-care” gets to mean that we should be overly concerned about how much we apologize. Be careful with your pruning. It turns out that the words “I’m sorry” do matter. When wronged, people want to hear those words and they notice when they don’t. In some cases, they remember these instances forever.

Not to overblow the issue of tardiness, thanking me for waiting for you does nothing to acknowledge my reality, except to say that I did wait some undetermined amount of time – which you have deemed trivial. This fact is divorced from whatever might have been going on for me logistically, emotionally or whatever (i.e, my reality). Maybe I was irritated. In this case, a pre-emptive “thank you” becomes a means to manage and control my response. That hardly sounds like genuine gratitude to me. Just like corporate speak, it aims to redefine my reality without consulting me. It’s creepy. It also glosses over what is being communicated. Situations vary, but you’re being 15 minutes late tells me that I do not matter. Someone is a few minutes late and now I don’t matter? To clarify, I know that I do matter. And it’s why I can recognize it when I’m being treated as if I don’t.

It might be more helpful to ask “What does it mean to honor someone?” At minimum wouldn’t we show up on time and be fully present once there? The habitually late who want to see themselves as free spirits as opposed to as passive aggressive control freaks who can’t think of a better way to claim their power will cringe to hear that honoring your word by being on time matters. Your calendar might try to prove helplessness. It is crammed with soccer games, good causes, appointments, even double-bookings. My first impulse is to make reassurances. We’ve all been late. Nobody is perfect. But this is off the topic. Instead, I refer you to this unapologetic article about tardiness in which self-respect requires directly and gently confronting those who keep us waiting.

People who talked to me for QuOTeD also tended to want apologies to be coupled with change. Does being grateful accomplish this? No. But it does suggest what I can expect from you in the future. The lack of an apology indicates that no change is needed. Moreover, what you don’t say is up for interpretation. When you change the subject (i.e., say “thank you” instead of “I’m sorry”) I might conclude that under (your) terms of this relationship it is not acceptable to voice my dissatisfaction. I am to be silent about feeling annoyed and disrespected. This is the definition of dysfunction.

What you do say is also up for interpretation because you are not being straight, which has been the problem all along. Thanking me for something I didn’t willingly give you is another way to tell me that you’re in charge and that I can expect more of the same. You’ll continue to be some kind of lovable pocket-picking airhead that is incapable of anticipating traffic and I’ll play the supporting actor who serves to absolve you of your guilt by “accepting you as you are” at the expense of my own dignity.

To put it in the harshest terms, your self-love is buttressed by my self-hatred.

Apologies such as “sorry I’m late” sound hollow because they’re commonly offered without pausing enough to mean what we say. They’re filled with clichés about (self-imposed) emergencies, (predictable) traffic jams and (supposedly) lofty priorities. But instead of dropping the shallow apology, what about deepening it? What about just being sincere? What about intentionally honoring people? For me, it’s not that I’m incapable of getting my mother’s birthday card in the mail on time, which (it pains me to say) I don’t always do. It’s that I have never thought about it in these terms: Honoring her. What if I did? Might that change my behavior without perfection becoming the unreachable goal that constantly nags me? In any case, if you’re always late and don’t intend to make any adjustments, no apology is necessary. At some point it’s on me to decide whether I want to continue to make plans with someone who is unreliable or fill-in-the-blank, but that’s another story and again one that is addressed in this article.

But what about the apologies that really are driven by insecurities and self-hatred? For example, I don’t need to apologize to the plumber because my house is a mess. However, nor do I need to thank him or her for excusing it. And as mentioned before, these aren’t really apologies anyway as they aren’t intended to empathize with another person by diving into their reality. They’re just words intended to ease our own discomfort. They’re social niceties. Is that the end of the world? Regardless, no one will care if we ditch them.

Mrs. Roosevelt apologizes to students for the disarray of the White House rooms which are being prepared for air raids.[Collins, Marjory, 1912-1985, photographer Washington, D.C. 1942 Feb. Library of Congress. Under the auspices of the Bureau of University Travel and the National Capital School Visitors' Council, over 200 high school students chosen for their intellectual alertness visited Washington for a week. Mrs. Roosevelt apologizes to students for the disarray of the White House rooms which are being prepared for air raids.]

On the other hand, what if you ruin my favorite sweater? Are you going to apologize and try to make it right? Or are you going to thank me for not being materialistic and accepting that you’re no Martha Stewart in the laundry room? I’d hate to think of what a person like this would say should I find them screwing my husband! These are extreme examples and probably not the point of the post. But it’s helpful to see where the logic takes us. It breaks down with a capful of Clorox.

Keep it real, people. Say you’re sorry when you’ve done something wrong.

T-shirts and Poetry Games

Brian and I were just in Chicago where I attended the Podcast Movement ’16 conference. I’m currently working on a QuOTeD episode that documents the extra day we spent in the Windy City after the conference. As we bummed around, with the exception of advertisements, I started to note the words people were wearing on t-shirts. I wondered if they could be strung together to either snap a sort of picture of the day or a specific time and place in the culture.

Woman in t-shirt
By Friedrich Haag (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

The t-shirts we saw were:

Continue reading “T-shirts and Poetry Games”

Purpose vs. Happiness, Another Take

Sixteen years ago, a friend and I found ourselves talking about purpose. The following is a partial transcript from that conversation. I had just made a comment about how “knowing yourself” always seemed to be the promise of the next stage of life. When you’re thirty, this. When you’re forty that. When you’re fifty…

Paint swatch on white wall. Why did you wander into the room? What's your purpose?
Paint swatch on white wall.

Incidentally, the original Question of the Day was “Tell me about a wake-up call that informs the way you live your life today.”

Continue reading “Purpose vs. Happiness, Another Take”

Trading in the old car

How does it feel to trade in the old car?

After 13 years, Brian trades in his Mazda that has had one too many repairs. The night before we take it into the dealer, we get the car washed and take it for a spin around our favorite places in town.