Minnesota Breweries Supply More than Good Beer

Brad Finstad

If I told you that one of the fastest growing industries in Greater Minnesota today is brewing, you’d probably tell me that I may be enjoying the products of brewers a bit too much.

I do enjoy ice cold beer—and I live not far from the August Schell Brewing Company in New Ulm—but a report recently commissioned by the Southern Minnesota Regional Competitiveness Project is the source of my information.

The report identified brewing as the industry in southern Minnesota that will enjoy the fastest rate of job growth over the next decade.

While at first glance this may be surprising, it really shouldn’t be.

Minnesota has a very rich and colorful brewing history. At one point, the state had over 100 breweries serving local communities. While the number of brewers dwindled over the years, local breweries and brew pubs are springing up again all over the state — from Brainerd and Duluth to the tiny town of Lucan in southwest Minnesota.

The craft beer or “microbrew” craze, the growing ranks of beer aficionados and an increased demand for locally produced beer is fueling much of Minnesota’s brewery revival. Established and entrepreneurial Minnesota brewers are stepping up to the plate to meet this demand, and they are hiring more and more Minnesotans to help them.

On your next trip to a local restaurant or liquor store, ask for a Minnesota-brewed beer and experience for yourself what our state’s brewery revival is all about.

(Brad Finstad is executive director of the Center for Rural Policy and Development. He can be reached at bfinstad@ruralmn.org.)