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, Tap Talk chats with one of the original Twin Cities brewers – Fulton Brewery.
When it comes to the founders of craft beer in the Twin Cities, many think Summit and Surly are king. But, while both breweries paved the way for smaller operations, some were already in the works before the Surly Bill was passed.
One such operation was Fulton Beer.
Like so many breweries after it, Fulton began as a homebrewing hobby in a garage.
“The four of us started out homebrewing strictly as a hobby,” co-founder Ryan Petz said. “It sounded like a good excuse to hang out in the garage and drink beer with our friends.”
Petz, along with Jim Diley, Peter Grande and Brian Hoffman, began crafting recipes and brewing beer in 2006.
At the time, none of the four had any intention of doing anything other than enjoying each other’s beer and company.
But, after a couple years they began to feel differently.
“After a couple years of enjoying the brewing process, constantly learning, and starting to make some good beers, we thought we had something special on our hands,” Petz said.
In 2009 they had two recipes – Lonely Blonde and Sweet Child of Vine – they felt were delicious and complex enough to help them launch a small-batch brewery.
While they had the recipes, they lacked the space.
All four were at a crossroads and were not able to purchase their own spot, so they began to reach out to local breweries about the possibility of contract brewing.
They finally found a spot at Sand Creek Brewing Company in Wisconsin.
Then, on Oct. 28, 2009 they sold their first pint of Sweet Child of Vine.
Now, over seven years later, Fulton Beer has grown from two recipes to over two dozen and from one garage to two breweries in Minneapolis.
Follow them: on Twitter at @fultonbeer, on Facebook at Fulton Beer, or visit their website online.
Owners: Jim Diley, Peter Grande, Brian Hoffman and Ryan Petz
Brewer: Peter Grande
Location: 414 6th Avenue N, Minneapolis
Hours: Tuesdays – Thursdays: 3 – 10 p.m., Fridays: 3 – 11 p.m., Saturdays: 12 – 11 p.m., Sundays: 12 – 6 p.m. and Mondays: Closed
So, since you’ve been around the Twin Cities for almost ten years many may be familiar with your story, but let’s start with a refresher. Where did you come up with the name “Fulton?”
Petz: Fulton is the name of the Minneapolis neighborhood where we started homebrewing. Our first (one car) garage was there, and so was the second (two car) garage.
What a cool homage to your starting location! Tell me, what lead you to move the operation from Fulton to Northeast and then the North Loop?
Petz: Our main goal was to be within the city of Minneapolis. We looked all over town, and especially in southwest near the Fulton neighborhood, but never found the right spot until the North Loop location came up.
Well it certainly has been a great spot for you guys thus far! It must be a fun time too as more breweries, like Modist Brewing and others, continue to open up. So, let’s talk beer! What do you currently have on tap?
Petz: We currently have 16+ beers on tap at any given time. We keep our website up to date with what’s currently on: http://www.fultonbeer.com/tap-room
Wow! That’s a lot of tap lines! I know many are familiar with Lonely Blonde and Sweet Child of Vine, but tell me – what are your other flagship beers?
Petz: We consider our flagships to be Lonely Blonde, Sweet Child of Vine, 300 IPA and Standard Lager.
With 16 on tap there must be an extensive seasonal list as well. Tell me, what is the best seller out of all of your brews?
Petz: Lonely Blonde.
I know that is definitely the beer that comes to mind for many when they think Fulton. So, although the craft beer boom has hit the Twin Cities hard there are still some that may be just getting into the craze. What would you serve someone who is new to craft beer?
Petz: It varies. The best way to serve beer to a craft beer novice is to ask him or her what types of flavor they like. You’d be surprised at the beers a craft beer first-timer will land on!
I bet some people get a beer that is lot darker than they would have thought they’d like! How about the opposite side of the spectrum, how do you surprise someone who has been enjoying the Twin Cities brew scene since it began? A “beer snob” if you will.
Petz: Again, it depends on what their personal bias is. Our IPAs and also our new Culture Project beers, which are conditioned for a year or more in oak barrels with all kinds of unique fermentation cultures, [would be a good starting place.]
It sounds like for 2017 barrel aging is going to be even bigger. Speaking of trends for the New Year, are there any flavors you’re looking to explore in 2017?
Petz: Many! We always have new beers in the works. We’ll be announcing some exciting 2017 additions soon.
Something to look forward to! So, as Fulton continues to thrive in Minneapolis, where do you hope to see the brewery grow into in the next five years?
Petz: Doing the things we are now, but doing them even better. Crafting extraordinary beers, doing great things in our community, having fun and contributing to a better beer industry.
Sounds like a great goal! What about for Minnesota, where do you hope to see the brewing scene grow into in the state?
Petz: Focusing on quality above all else, from brewers to distributors to retailers to consumers. Bringing the concept of better beer to more people and more occasions.
It sounds like that is a goal and hope for many brewers across the state – that as the number of breweries levels out the quality of the beer becomes the biggest priority. So, aside from drinking beer, what is your favorite thing about the beverage?
Petz: I love that beer can be a means for bringing people together. To me, beer and drinking is supposed to be a social act. There are too many negative forces dividing people today; maybe if more people took the time to discuss things over a beer we’d all get along a little better.
That’s a great thought! To finish things off, tell me, how would you describe Fulton in one word?