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. Next up, Northeast’s Dangerous Man Brewing Company.
“Mommy, mommy! There’s a dangerous man in the house!”
And with those words a brewery was born.
Well, okay, it wasn’t quite that easy.
Like almost all brewery owners, Rob Miller had been a home brewer first. For roughly 10 years he played around with different recipes, crafted unique brews and had dreams of opening up his own taproom.
The dream began to become reality when the Surly Bill passed in 2011, paving the way for brewers all over the state to open their own individual taprooms to share their beer and their passion.
Miller, and partner Sarah Bonvallet, began working on their own taproom.
The location was predetermined. Miller grew up in the area of northeast Minneapolis and had always known he wanted to return to the community. However, the building was still to be found.
After touring a number of spaces, the pair eventually settled on their current location in 2nd Street.
“It just immediately screamed out what Dangerous Man was going to be,” taproom manager Sam Dahl Holzinger said. “So, with the help of many, many friends and family they were able to pull the money together.”
And in 2013 the northeast brewery was born.
Owners: Rob Miller and Sarah Bonvallet
Brewers: Rob Miller, John Leingang, Ramsey James Louder and Jordan Bettman
Location: 1300 2nd Street NE
Hours: Tuesday through Thursday: 4 – 10 p.m., Friday: 3 p.m. – 12 a.m., Saturday: 12 p.m. – 12 a.m.
So, I think we have to know, how was the name “Dangerous Man” chosen?
Dahl Holzinger: It goes back to when Rob was attending a wedding in Texas. After the festivities ended…he went to bed on [a] couch. At the time his beard was very long. The little girl who lived [at the home he was staying at] woke up in the morning and saw him screaming, ‘Mommy, mommy! There’s a dangerous man in the house! There’s a dangerous man in the house!’ And that just sort of stuck ever since. So, that was the name he was giving to [any homes brews he was doing.] It was right out there and it was just the most perfect, obvious choice as soon as it came to be.
That is a great story! So Miller was very set on bringing the taproom to a community he knew, which is a theme in craft beer. Why is community so intertwined with craft brewing?
Dahl Holzinger: That’s the culture now. That’s where, I’m hoping, our society is heading. I think collectively people are wanting to know where their drinks and where their food is coming from. Northeast is a fantastic community of people who are involved and who want locally sourced things because they want this community to thrive, not some community they’ve never even heard of or some company that’s to big to even care about. And it is indicative of craft beer. It falls right into place with all of that. I mean think of the growth of co-ops and farms-to table-restaurants. People are kind of getting done with these big macro breweries and switching to something local.
Locally sourced and owned is a huge trend in the food and drink scene now. So, how does Dangerous Man support the community?
Dahl Holzinger: Specifically for us at Dangerous Man, the community is absolutely everything. We aren’t distributing outside the taproom. That means the only place you can get it is in the taproom, which means we rely 100 percent on this community. [We] showcase other people that work in this community in using local companies. [We used] Wood From the Hood to build the new bar in our expansion space, Rogue Arc to work on the back bar in the old space, and local artist Peter Geyen did a couple of the really big abstract pieces in our taproom. We had another person, Jake Keeler, who was connected to the community and the Dangerous Man people, and he was the one who painted this giant fish with a giant beard on the wall. We didn’t set them up to be iconic, we just wanted to support a local artist and have it coincide with what we are and have it be a part of the atmosphere and the environment when you come here.
You also have a strong community presence outside of the taproom with your volunteer program. Tell me about that.
Dahl Holzinger: We [do] have an extremely successful volunteer program at Dangerous Man. Our own Hilari Bandow [operations manager] is super passionate about community and kind of on her own ran away with this Dangerous Man Volunteers [project]. We have over 500 people involved. We do things all around the community, whether that’s pack lunches for kids who might not necessarily have a lunch to take to school, building bikes for Free Bikes 4 Kidz, or clean up all around the neighborhood. This spring we canoed and kayaked down the river and cleaned up along the way. Our volunteer group is just the most passionate. They love Dangerous Man, they love beer, they love community and they love helping people. I think our volunteers are the best.
Wow! That’s great that not only are you involved but you offer a way for others to be involved too. Can anyone join?
Dahl Holzinger: Absolutely. It’s on our website. It’s a sign up thing. You end up on a big list. There’s a lot a lot of people, but we’ll put the events out there to people and the first 30 to sign up get to go on it. But the more hands the better.
Great! So, over the past few years, Northeast has become sort of the central hub of craft brewing in Minneapolis. With all the influx of breweries opening there, how has the climate changed for Dangerous Man?
Dahl Holzinger: I got hired on here at Dangerous Man right at the beginning. I actually answered a Craigslist ad, which is beautiful. I started off as a server/bartender and made my way up to a taproom manager. So, I’ve gotten to see all the breweries pop up in this neighborhood, and there has never been a concern, or fear, or a sense of the wrong kind of competition between what we set up in Northeast. All of [the breweries] are making fantastic beer. It’s not a threatening thing. In fact the comradery between us has only grown stronger. We actually just started the Northeast Brewers and Distillers Association.
In addition to community it seems that the brotherhood between breweries seems to be a common theme as well. It definitely doesn’t seem like any extra competition is hurting you as your currently expanding! Can you tell me a bit about the new space?
Dahl Holzinger: It’s going to be [in] the space just across from us; a door down, same building, 1600-square-feet. The back three quarters of it is all production. We have been extremely limited by our fermenter space. We have four fermenters in our existing location and if you don’t have a fermenter open you can’t brew a beer, and if a beer is not fermenting you can’t serve the beer. You can’t move it over to be conditioned. So, we’ve run into issues with the demand we’ve had. So with this expansion that allows us to sell as many growlers ad we want. We’re [also] expanding our barrel-aged program. We’ll be releasing a lot more very special barrel-aged bottle releases and we’re also going to be introducing the crowler to our taproom.
Sounds like a big project! I’m sure you’re all very xcited for it to open! Do you have a projected date?
Dahl Holzinger: No date yet. We’re still hard at work at it. We’re shooting for later this fall.
Well, I’m sure many people will have their eyes open for when it is completed! So, let’s talk about the beer. You do a lot of limited batches, but do you have any staple beers?
Dahl Holzinger: Yes, which was something we never really expected to happen. So, right form the get go the Chocolate Milk Stout [became a staple]. We’re all really, really proud of it. That was supposed to be a beer that was just going to be seasonal, Rob thought maybe wintertime. But the absolute demand and love for it right off the [bat], we learned, maybe four months in, that we need to keep the beer on all the time. So, that was the first one. That became the flagship, you could say. Then the very next beer to become that is our Peanut Butter Porter. That we started doing just about a year ago, and again it was one of those beers that the demand for it superseded us doing anything else. We had to keep that one on tap. And, I think, for us, we really do shine when it comes to dark beers. We do a few different porters. We have that Peanut Butter, we were doing a hazelnut for a while, a pecan porter, a coffee porter, and I think people really gravitated toward those beers and toward us for providing something that doesn’t always have to be super hoppy.
Peanut Butter? That is a flavor I’ve never heard of in beer before. How did the idea for that flavor come about?
Dahl Holzinger: [Peanut butter beers] are kind of far and few between. (laughs) Rob and I were actually talking about different soda flavors. At the time I was making sodas and we were talking about what would be interesting and unique. Kind of in that brainstorming of, ‘How do we bring something really different?’, we came across this peanut butter idea in our research. I think it was him that said, ‘Why don’t we do a peanut butter porter?’ And we did. It is peanut butter on the nose, not as much in the flavor. It’s not overwhelming where you feel like its clinging or sticky.
Sounds very unique! What else do you have on tap at the moment?
Dahl Holzinger: We have quite an extensive list. We go through beers so fast that by the time that one’s gone we have something totally different and new on. That’s what makes us special because we don’t have anything we do all the time. The only two we do all the time are the chocolate and the peanut butter. But, generally, we try to rotate through something dark, something unique, something hoppy and something light. We try to keep something on for everybody.
Sounds like, no matter what, whenever someone comes in they kind find something. Do you have anything seasonal on at the moment?
Dahl Holzinger: Yes, we have two seasonals on right now. One is our Marzen Oktoberfest. It’s 5.7 percent alcohol by volume. It’s 24 IBUs. It’s a very traditional beer. It’s malt forward. It’s slightly sweet but there’s enough hops to balance that out. It’s very drinkable. It’s brewed as a traditional lager. It’s actually one of the only lagers we brew. And then we have or Imperial Pumpkin Ale, which is a little higher is ABV. That one is 8.3 percent. It is 20 IBU. This batch strikes the perfect balance between the pumpkin that we use, and we do use real pumpkin, and the spices that you want to go with the pumpkin, like the nutmeg, the cinnamon and the cardamom. So, it’s not overly sweet and it’s not overly spiced. I think there is just a perfect fine balance between the two. It honestly kind of tastes like you’re sipping on a pumpkin pie.
Sounds perfect for this time of year! So, what is the most popular beer?
Dahl Holzinger: It’s still the peanut butter.
Wow! That is quite the beer! What is your most awarded beer?
Dahl Holzinger: The Chocolate Milk Stout. It’s won best stout in the Growler Magazine’s ‘Kind-Of-Big-Deal’ awards the last two years. It is what people talk about in other states talking about beer, they know of it. We also just took home the Summer Dabbler cup. I think a lot of that was due in large part to the Peanut Butter Porter.
Awesome! That’s very exciting. So, what is your favorite beer at Dangerous Man?
Dahl Holzinger: It changes so often. My personal favorite would probably actually be our Belgian Table Beer. It is light, sesionable and super flavorful. It’s lower in alcohol but it’s still all the things you want in an ale, and in Belgian beer especially. Also, the two seasonal beers. I am a huge fall seasonal beer drinker. There’s just something about the air getting crisp, that smell of fallen leaves, it just goes hand-in-hand with the Oktoberfest. So for me, the fall season beers are my jam.
I agree. I love a good pumpkin beer! But speaking of that, almost all taprooms will do an Oktoberfest or pumpkin beer, as well as IPA or porter. Are you ever concerned with continuing to be innovative as breweries continue to open up?
Dahl Holzinger: It’s not really something that we are concerned about. For us, a lot of our innovation comes from the freedom our brewers are given by Rob. If they have a good recipe idea and it comes out vested, it’s like ‘Yeah, let’s brew this! Let’s make a full batch of beer.’ A perfect example is right now we have a Caraway brown ale. One of our brewers John Leingang is obsessed with Reuben’s and he loves using things like coriander and those spices and seeds. So that’s not something anybody else is doing. We [also] do Firkins, which you can be really creative with those beers as well, adding fruits to it, or spices, or different hops. So, I think we really have some of the most creative beers, or at least the ability to make those creative beers, because the freedom and the trust that Rob has kind of given to the brewers.
That’s great that you’re able to try so many different ingredients and flavors. I’m sure it helps keep the beer unique. So, if you had to sum up Dangerous Man in one word, what word would you use?
Dahl Holzinger: Fresh. Our beer is fresh. That’s what we’re all about. It’s brewed and it goes right to your glass. That’s sort of a commitment we have. It doesn’t sit on a shelf in a liquor store or in a keg behind a bar. It is straight from our tanks to your cup.