Tap Talk: Northeast Minneapolis’ Indeed Brewing Company

Over the last five years, the craft brewery movement has grown exponentially in Minnesota. The Associated Press says licensing records show two-thirds of Minnesota breweries have opened just since 2010. So, we decided to help you – and your livers – keep up with the taproom trend by stopping by some of these Twin Cities brewhouses. For the next brewery, Tap Talk is going back to one of Northeast’s oldest breweries, Indeed Brewing Company.

Like many Minnesota breweries, Surly Brewing Company played a pivotal role in the creation of Indeed Brewing Company.

But unlike many other local breweries, Indeed’s story began before the groundbreaking bill was passed.

Indeed’s story begins in 2010 and sprouts from a tour of Surly’s facilities.

Co-founders Nathan Berndt and Tom Whisenand had been toying with the idea of a brewpub, but had abandoned the idea by the time they were on a tour in November 2010.

However, just one day later an opportunity to start a brewery presented itself.

So, Berndt, Whisenand and their friend Rachel Anderson came together to begin to create Indeed.

First, they created an operations plan.

Next, they found a location, which happened to later turn into the hub of all craft brewing – Northeast Minneapolis.

Five years ago, and even still today, there’s a ton of warehouse space that is available and we just needed some large ceiling capacity for tanks,” Berndt said. “We [also] did some community meetings and met with local neighborhood associations and the people were ever welcoming. After that, we decided we didn’t want to look anywhere else.”

(credit: Indeed Brewing Company Facebook)

(credit: Indeed Brewing Company Facebook)

As the plans progressed, the team hired on brewer Josh Bischoff.

Berndt and Whisenand both homebrewed, but decided to hire a professional brewer to head up their operation.

“It was always part of our business plan,” Berndt said. “We wanted to focus on building the business.”

Bischoff brought with him nearly 12 years of experience and a number of innovative recipes.

As the brewery began to form, all that was left was finding a name. This proved to be a challenge.

There was nothing we were interested in that wasn’t already taken or registered as a business by someone else,” Berndt said.

The team knew they wanted something that wasn’t tied to a geographic location, as they wanted Indeed to grow past just Minnesota. But, as the search for the perfect name continued it began to stifle the rest of the process.

So they decided to shelve it, but not before Whisenand threw out “Indeed.” Inspired by a show he frequently watched, Whisenand channeled Omar from “The Wire” and chose a word he uses commonly.

“When he threw the name out, from my perspective I didn’t really like it because it didn’t really mean anything. It’s just a word,” Berndt said. “A few months later, we circled back to it and it just seemed to fit. I kind of see it as a stamp of approval. You usually say it in a pretty positive way. It fit in our mission of being inclusive and casting a wide net of the people who we thought might be interested in drinking our beer.”

Thus, Indeed began producing in July 2012 and became the first production brewery to open in Northeast Minneapolis in the new era of beer.

(credit: Indeed Brewing Company Facebook)

(credit: Indeed Brewing Company Facebook)

Indeed Brewing Company

Follow them: on Twitter at @indeedbrewing, on Facebook at Indeed Brewing Company, or visit their website online.
Owners: Tom Whisenand, Nathan Berndt and Rachel Anderson
Brewer: Josh Bischoff
Location:  711 15th Avenue NE
Hours: Wednesday – Thursday: 3 to 11 p.m., Friday – Saturday: 12 to 11 p.m. and Sunday 12 to 8 p.m.
Contact: 612-843-5090

(credit: Indeed Brewing Company Facebook)

(credit: Indeed Brewing Company Facebook)

Many Minnesota brewery owners were homebrewers-turned-professional. While a few hire professional brewers, you at Indeed are definitely among the minority. Tell me, as you and Whisenand both started homebrewing, did you bring any recipes to Indeed or were they all Bischoff’s?

Berndt: Primarily they are Josh’s. We have a taproom series called the Derailed Series, and that’s kind of the opportunity for other brewers who aren’t the head brewer to come up with their own recipe.

Before diving into the DeRailed Series, let’s talk about Bischoff’s beer then. What are the flagship brews?

Berndt: First we started with two – Day Tripper and Midnight Ryder. Both were developed in the sense that they weren’t available in Minnesota at the time. In some degree, Day Tripper still isn’t available. It’s a very hop forward Pale Ale and some people think it’s an IPA. It’s made, in some regards, hoppier than some IPAs, [but] it’s just a pale. [It’s] lighter in alcohol [at] 5.4 percent. Then Midnight Ryder was another beer at the time that was an up-and-coming style – a Black IPA, or a Cascading IPA or American Black Ale. [It is] a very hoppy version of a black ale. Midnight Ryder was named after our brewer’s son. His name is Elliot Ryder. Those were the two flagships that we had. Then last year we added another, Dandy Lager, which was a pale lager; a hopped up Pilsner.

Very interesting that you don’t have a typical IPA as one of your flagships!

Berndt: It’s pretty typical for a brewery to come out with an IPA, we intentionally didn’t come out with one. We wanted to put a lot more focus on the Day Tripper. But, we have a seasonal IPA program.

Tell me a little bit about the seasonal IPAs. Does this mean there is always one on tap, or can consumers miss out on the beloved style?

Berndt: When you look at it as a year perspective we have Let It Roll and Let It Ride.

I see, so guests visiting will almost always be able to enjoy one of the “Let It” series as it were. Tell me about the other seasonals. What else do you have on tap at the moment?

Berndt: We have our specialty season beers, which right now would be Double Day Tripper – a double pale ale. The actual style “double pale” ale doesn’t exist, but since Day Tripper is a pale ale we wanted to keep the style the same so we just kind of go along with it. We have the DeRailed Series, which right now is a seasonal IPA. It’s a test beer for something else that is coming down the pipeline. We have a kettle sour called Lucy, which is a sour pale ale. Then, [we have] a couple collaboration beers. One is with Dangerous Man, which is a white IPA with some tea. Then we did a collaboration with New Belgium a few weeks back, so that’s on tap and it’s called Strawberry Fields.

Yum! Those all sound so unique and different! So, you mentioned the DeRailed Series twice now. Let’s talk about that – what is it?

Berndt: The Derailed Series [is] kind of the opportunity for other brewers who aren’t the head brewer to come up with their own recipe. There’s only one head brewer, and that person gets to make all the beers and have all the opportunity. So, this is a chance to spread the love around to other brewers who may not get a chance to come up with their own beer. I think we have four brewers under Josh and they’ve all come up with a beer. Some of those beers, they eventually may be elevated to a seasonal or a flagship beer at some point. We’ll [also] test beers out that we want to get feedback on from consumers.

I bet the other brewers on the team enjoy the opportunity to come up with their own recipes. You also have a program called the Wood Soul program. What is that?

Berndt: Wooden Soul is our barrel-aging sour program. In an offsite facility near Highway 280  by St. Paul we have a warehouse the same size as our brewery, 15000 square-feet. [In it] we have hundreds of oak barrels and wine barrels that we age beer in. [Then] we sour it with varying types of bacteria or even wild yeast. They are all sour or what’s called “wild.” One is called our Wild Ale. It’s not really sour per sea, but it’s an earthy, funky aromatic beer. It’s kind of a gateway to a sour beer in some sense.

Wow! How fun that you have a whole facility dedicated to experimenting with sours! It’s such a popular style now-a-days. But, tell me, do you do any barrel-aged beers that are not soured?

Berndt: Yes. In a separate room over there we have barrel aging in rum barrels, tequila barrels and some port bourbon barrels. One beer that we released in October is called Rumking, and that is a rum barrel-aged beer that we brew. This year it will be available in cans for the first year which is really cool.

That is very cool! You certainly do have a lot of different seasonals!

Berndt: That was part of our business plan. Living in Minnesota, which is a very seasonal state for activities and people’s mindset, it seems like that was how we ended up. It is also how we ended up with a snowflake on our logo because winter is the longest season here. If you live here and you like it, you embrace all the seasons. That kind of dovetailed into some of those beers.

So, which one of your brews would you suggest to someone who is new to craft beer?

Berndt: I would push them toward a seasonal. A lot of our seasonals tend to be on the malty side. Right now, one would be Yamma Jamma, or Shenanigans which is a crowd pleaser in the summertime.

How about someone who is a craft beer connoisseur?

Berndt: I would suggest any of the Wooden Soul beers. They are very dynamic and complex beers that develop over time. Whereas the kettle style beers are pretty clean, they are sour beers but they don’t have that same complex or mystery that comes across when you are working with wood barrel-age beers.

Sounds like the Wooden Soul or DeRailed Series are a really the place to start on your menu! Tell me, have any of your beers been awarded?

Berndt: Mexican Honey was one of those beers that originated in the Derailed program a couple of years ago. [It was the] beer that we came up with the fastest – maybe 20 minutes. It won a silver medal at the Great American Beer Festival two years ago for the honey beer category, I believe.

I find it intriguing that festivals have a specific category for honey beers. It just proves the number of flavors you can add to beer is almost unlimited. That being said, what you do you feel the brewing philosophy at Indeed is?

Berndt: Our brewing philosophy, I would say, is we brew beer we want to drink and hope we can sell the rest. Right now we can get away with brewing pretty hop forward beers and that can be numbing for some people, but generally I think that is why some of our seasonals have been pretty malt forward.

I think if you’re brewing things you like then you’re a much better salesperson for them too! Tell me, after being around on the brewing scene for awhile, what hopes do you have for Indeed in the future?

Berndt: I want Indeed to be a brand that everybody can identify at least one beer with. We may not make beers that everybody likes all the time but at least we make beers that are true to the style and that are interesting. And I would really like to see Day Tripper become a statewide brand in the same sense that Summit EPA is today; something that somebody can recognize from out of state.

I think that is a great goal for Indeed, as well as the brewing industry in Minnesota. Speaking of, where do you want to brewing community to go in the next five years?

Berndt: I want the brewing scene to develop a much more refined taste quality for craft beer. I think that is the next state in development of craft beer in the Twin Cities. We’ve made a big jump in the last three years in the amount of breweries that are open. I think Indeed was maybe 18th packaging brewery in Minnesota. Today, there might be 120 packaging and brewpubs. So, I would want for Minnesota to [start] producing very high quality, consistent beers. That is not always the case in the brewing industry. That’s always been the number one goal for Indeed, have the highest quality in consistency. We invest in quality at this brewery.

I’ve heard that from a number of brewers – that now that numbers are up the focus should shift to quality. I think consumers would be happy with that too. Tell me, what is a misconception you think that consumers have about Indeed?

Berndt: I think one misconception some consumers may have is their surprise at the age the brewery is, relative to our size and growth, which it cuts two ways. Some people are surprised that we are as big as we are, in such a short period of time of four years in age. [As it stands, we are the] fourth largest craft brewer in Minnesota. Or, some people that consider themselves craft beer drinkers may be surprised that we are as big as we are, but without really hearing of Indeed Brewing Company before despite living in the Twin Cities.

Of the misconceptions one could have, I think that is a good one! Finally, how would you describe Indeed in just one word?

Berndt: Innovative

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