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