The brewery movement has been strong in Minnesota, especially in the metro. But if you head up to the northwest corner of the state, you’ll find a startup that’s facing an ideal business situation: more demand than supply.
Revelation Ale opened in Hallock 1.5 years ago. Brothers Ryan and Josh Evenson, along with their wives, took the leap to develop a small brewery in a 1930s Amoco Standard gas station on Hallock’s main street. The actual retrofitting of the building was a family affair, with both brothers, along with their father, putting in a lot of sweat equity.
Ryan had previously worked as Hallock’s city administrator, but as an avid home brewer, the idea of going larger scale with brewing was attractive. The question of whether Hallock could support such a business was resolved fairly quickly; the brewery opened a taproom three nights a week, estimating that they’d get 40-50 people per night.
Instead, they quickly found themselves serving 200 people a night, drawing fans in from Grand Forks, Thief River Falls, and even Winnipeg. Their slate of ales offered changes seasonally, but most visitors will find a brown ale, IPA, fruit sours, blonde ales, and Belgian wheat, among others. They also offer nonalcoholic, gluten-free house-brewed root beer and pop.
That unexpected early success means that the small shop and taproom aren’t nearly enough to keep up with demand. So Ryan and Josh took another leap of faith and purchased a building down the street from the present location, not to move the whole operation to, but to act as an expansion. When the brothers and their dad finish rehabbing it, the new building will allow them to triple their production.
That includes future plans for a canning line. Currently most of their products are available on tap at various locations across northern Minnesota (nothing south of Alexandria, according to Ryan) and some North Dakota locations. They do a little canning, but it’s manual, so finding it in a liquor store is a bit of a risk.
But demand is poised to grow. In January, Revelation won the Best Brew at the Happy Harry’s Beer and Bacon Festival in Grand Forks, beating out more established brewers, including the likes of industry giant Surly Brewing. That in turn has led to calls from Twin Cities liquor stores, looking to stock their ales. But first things first: They’ve got to get that new building outfitted before they can experience the next level of growth. But if you’re up in Lake of the Woods chasing walleye, take a little detour to Hallock and have a taste for yourself.
What else is happening in our state? Be sure to check out the 10 p.m. Sunday night WCCO newscasts, where you can learn more in the weekly segment, Finding Minnesota.