Who are you and your current job?
Peter Heidorn, Marketing & Communications Manager. Fair State Brewing Cooperative in Minneapolis, MN.
What was the inspiration behind your brewery?
The idea for the brewery was hatched when Fair State’s founders Evan Sallee, Niko Tonks and Matt Hauck visited the first brewery cooperative in the country in Austin, Texas (Black Star Brewing Cooperative).
While they were enjoying beers, they realized the cooperative business model would be something unique to bring to Minneapolis – a state with a rich history in cooperatives and a rapidly expanding demand for craft beer.
The cooperative model provides people a way to get involved where they wouldn’t necessarily be able to do with other businesses, mainly craft beer. It’s a fair and equitable way of doing business, and it helped get the concept off the ground. There were 250 members before Fair State opened, and now with a membership base of 1,000+ and growing, the ability to be a Member-Owner has created a passionate community of people first connecting over craft beer, then uniting over everything else. And that’s the best part – Fair State has become more than just beer. It’s a support system for our local community.
Can you give us a tour of your beer scene?
Craft beer has become a part of the MN cultural identity. Northeast Minneapolis is particularly fervent, with nine breweries within walking or biking distance from each other. It’s a very supportive and amicable community. There’s a diversity of character and style in the product and Taprooms that offer a different experience for every kind of beer drinker.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to start a brewery?
CEO Evan Sallee: “It’s very tough. There are a lot of factors that play into whether the idea has legs or not. There are the business-side and the beer-side. And it’s almost easier to start a brewery than becoming a professional brewer these days. It’s a very competitive industry where it helps to know somebody who knows somebody. Brewing on a professional system is also very different than brewing at home. The biggest piece of advice is to talk to as many people as you can. Get informed before you get yourself into something that overwhelms you. And know yourself. Form a team around you can match your passion and understand the vision.”