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 headed south to Faribault’s F-Town Brewing Company.

When starting a brewery, there are a few things you need: knowledge of beer, brewing skills, passion and a little bit of luck.

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Noah Strouth, Travis Temke and Chris Voegle possessed each of these, but it wasn’t until a serendipitous town meeting where the three met that their brewery, F-Town, was born.

Friends since childhood, Strouth and Voegle had begun homebrewing years prior to meeting Temke.

The pair honed their craft while experimenting with flavors and ingredients. Soon, as with all homebrewers, they began to dream about owning their own brewery.

Meanwhile, Temke, a Faribault resident, was eager to help revitalize the city’s downtown area.

So, in 2014 the three all attended a meeting about business in downtown Faribault.

“We actually met at a community event that was helping and promoting downtown Faribault,” Temke said. “We went to a visionary meeting to talk about the future and vision of downtown Faribault, we got together and decided to start work together.”

With Strouth and Voegle’s knowledge and skill of brewing, and Temke’s understanding of Faribault’s history, the group knew they had to bring craft beer back on tap in Faribault.

And, as luck would have it, after their chance meeting, they did just that.

“The oldest brewery in Minnesota would have been Fleckenstein’s. They closed in 1963,” Temke said. “At one time there were three different breweries that called Faribault home. So, that’s why we’re located in downtown Faribault.”

Almost two years later, F-Town is continuing the city’s beer tradition while accelerating their presence in the craft brew world.

(credit: F-Town Brewing Company Facebook Page)

(credit: F-Town Brewing Company Facebook Page)

F-Town Brewing Company

Follow them: on Twitter at F-Town Brewing Co., on Facebook at F-Town Brewing Company, or visit their website online.
Owners:  Noah Strouth Travis Temke, Chris Voegele
Brewer:  Noah Strouth and Chris Voegele
Location:  22 4th Street NE, Faribault
Hours: Mondays & Tuesdays: Closed, Wednesdays & Thursdays: 3 – 9 p.m., Fridays: 3 – 10 p.m., Saturdays 12 – 10 p.m. and Sundays: 12 – 3 p.m.
Contact: 507-331-7677

(credit: F-Town Brewing Company Facebook Page)

(credit: F-Town Brewing Company Facebook Page)

I love that there is so much passion, both for the beer and the city, in your brewery. Tell me, how did you come up with “F-Town” as the name?

Temke: We had a long discussion about names and we wanted to do something out of the ordinary, other than just “Faribault Brewing Company.” When we first started, and obviously still to this day, we felt that we wanted to have the brewery grow. We felt that being really centralized on Faribault people might not be able to relate, either geographically or they just don’t really understand the city or really know much about it. So, we wanted a name that represented the town but also had it be flexible and unique.

I think it’s very important to think about the reach of your name when you think big picture. It’s great that “F-Town” is still tied to Faribault but not too specific. So, let’s talk about beer! What are your flagship beers?

Temke: We have a core four. They are an American Brown Ale, an American Red Ale, an IPA and the Faribo Lager.

Now, I noticed those don’t have names, so to speak. They are just labeled with the style of beer it is. Why is that?

Temke: We felt that there was a lot of opportunity for names but at the same time we want people to know what they’re drinking. So, what we were doing with the core four is having the logo and our name as the brewery be the focus. We want you to know more about F-Town and we want to recognize the brand. With seasonals, we have more about what we do in Faribault and more about the community. Therefore, on our cans and everything we do we have “Faribault Made.” That’s kind of our slogan.

What about seasonals? Do those have names?

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Temke: Yes, our seasonals do have names. We have a seasonal that’s called Forever Summer. [And] we have one out now that’s called a Mocha Stout. That is a collaboration with the Faribault Woolen Mill. We also have an Imperial Maple Stout.

Those both sound perfect for this type of weather! So, how many beers do you tend to have on tap?

Temke: Currently, we have 10 different choices out of 12 taps. We try to run between 10 and 12 options at a time. [It’s] a mix between core four and seasonals. Now, we have our Oatmeal Stout [on tap] that is blended with coffee and cocoa nibs. Then we put that on nitro so it’s different than our Mocha Stout. Then we [also] blended our Brown Ale through the same unique blend so we have two unique beers on nitro. [Previously] we’ve also had our watermelon-strawberry Heffeweisen. We had a saison, a California Common called “Commoncazi,” and then also a Pale Ale.

Sounds like a lot of great options! So, what would you say is your best seller?

Temke: Well, 70 percent of all beer sales is IPA. So, right now it would be our IPA. But our local favorite would be our Faribo Lager.

I always find it so interesting how much sales can vary if you’re talking about taproom specific or distribution accounts. Tell me, what beer would you sell someone who is new to craft beer?

Temke: The Faribo Lager. It’s very approachable, easy to drink and all around a nice crisp, clean lager.

From your description, I can understand why a town with such a rich brewing history would enjoy a beer like that. So, what about a beer snob? What would you serve them?

Temke: Our Imperial Maple Stout.

I love that there is no hesitation! I must say, it sounds like a very intriguing beer. Any upcoming flavors you can share?

Temke: Well, they’re working on a sessionable Red IPA.

With IPA’s being such a big share of the market, I can understand why that would be one your team would want to explore. So, moving on from your offerings, aside from drinking it – what is your favorite thing about beer?

Temke: I think for us, and our taproom kind of shows this, it’s community. [It’s] just being able to sit down and enjoy beer and converse. Our taproom may not be the largest, but we have tables that came from Munich, Germany from prior Oktoberfests and these tables make you interact with the person next to you, even if you know them or don’t know them. They force you to interact because they are such a narrow table. So, for us, it’ nice to see everyone kind of come together.

I always marvel at how a simple thing like beer can really bring people together. It’s a universal beverage, that’s for sure! So, what do you think makes Faribault a unique brewing destination? Why should people from the metro visit?

Temke: I think the community, and the fact that it is so close to the metro. It can be a fantastic day trip. We have the most registered historic buildings in Minnesota for one city. We do have a history of brewing here – [F-Town] is across the river from the original brewery. We have a rich history of cheese making here – we made the very first blue cheese in America in Faribault. Then also, the oldest Minnesota company is the Faribault Woolen Mill. So, it’s a destination in the fact that there is a lot of history and we are located right downtown Faribault.

I think as the craft beer scene continues to grow the way it has, people are excited and willing to travel to breweries. It’s great that they get to experience Minnesota history and culture along the way. So, what is something you would want someone to know before they come into the brewery?

Temke: We don’t judge. We are a community that does really appreciate beer. So we know that palates can be matured and it just takes some time. We want people that come to realize that we’re here to help, we’re here to educate, but we’re also here not to judge one’s preferred choice of beverage.

I’m sure that drinkers of all knowledge level appreciate knowing they can come in and ask questions free of judgement. So, as you continue to foster a craft beer community in Faribault where do you hope the brewery will grow to in the next five years?

Temke: To have a much larger presence in the metro. We want a larger share of the market and to be able to share our craft to those individuals in the metro. My goal in five years is to be fully statewide, which is pretty generic. But for us, it’s just a matter of getting the market share we’ve been trying to obtain. It’s a matter of getting more draft lines so people can actually learn about us through our liquid. For us, [we want to] get people to realize they don’t need to come to the brewery or the taproom to enjoy our beverages or beers. Learn through our beer, then come discover the people who made it.

I can imagine trying to get tap lines in the metro is a competitive business. I can also understand why getting more lines is so important to visibility and a driving factor for business.  Outside of F-Town, where do you hope to see the brewing industry in the next five years?

Temke: We’re all competitive, so as long as we continue to make better beer, challenge each other and continue to work together on a mission of just making sure that we provide the best quality and most consistent product to people who live in Minnesota, [I’ll be happy.] But I think the next five years there will be changes in how we do that, especially in how we pair up and have the best efforts together. You already see it in Northeast Minneapolis, with the cooperative breweries. Each one will then share that wealth. Hopefully, that will step throughout the regions where maybe southern Minnesota will have our own co-op. I think you’re going to see more and more of that because it is so competitive. People that think the nationwide microbreweries are going to go away – they’re not. They’re going to get stronger, better and they are going to come in differently than they are now, so we just have to be ahead of the game on that.

That would be a very interesting way to combat the growing number of craft breweries and strength of macro-breweries. As you said, it already seems to be taking hold. So, I guess we’ll just have to wait and see where the next five years takes us! So, to finish up, tell me one word you think describes F-Town.

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Temke: Dedication.