In my attempt to cover upcoming breweries, I came across Richard Drawdy, the brewer for the soon to open Bank Brewing. The brewery is located in the small border town of Hendricks, MN and I'll let Richard tell you more about that in his own words! When I first looked up the brewery I discovered that they are responsible for the Beer for Wildlife series of beers that include Rooster Lager and Walleye Chop. They have been donating to wildlife conservation with profits from those beers for a couple of years now. A friend of mine won a whole case of Rooster Lager at a Pheasants Forever benefit and shared a bunch with me a while ago. These are pretty easy drinking lagers (and I have to admit that I had so many that I boiled up some amazing locally made brats in some of it!) that certainly appeal to the majority of beer drinkers. The company is poised to make some big changes in the coming months!
So without further ado, here is the interview:
JABlog: I like the wildlife conservation aspect of your current beers. What made you want to take that path?
RD: The Beer for Wildlife line of lagers were born out of love for hunting, fishing, beer, and the desire to develop a way to give back to the land and preserve hunting areas. When our proprietor Jason Markkula was on a hunting trip to Hendricks, MN there was a unique conversation that occurred in an old bank building turned hunting lodge. Jason and his hunting buddies decided that he should start a beer company, brew his favorite home brew recipes at local breweries and sell the beer to local hunting enthusiasts, contributing a portion of every sale to land purchase and wildlife preservation. Since 2009 these brands have been brewed seasonally to coincide with the hunting season they represent and the passion for crafting beer grew. The old bank building, turned hunting lodge, has now been turned into the taproom at 200 S Main St. in Hendricks, MN.
JABlog: I'm assuming that the previously mentioned beers were contract brewed off-site since you are now planning to brew on premise. What led you to make that change? Also do you plan to brew those beers at your new site?
RD: You are right, the beers for wildlife are made in 15 BBL batches at Brau Brewing Company in the 12oz bottle and Keg formats and the Walleye Chop cans are coming out of Cold Spring, MN being brewed 75 BBL at a time. The decision to move to a brew on-premise was driven by an opportunity that presented itself in Hendricks. The historic creamery building at the other end of the same city block as the bank taproom was screaming to have a brewery in it. After years of renovations it has a new life making beverages for fans to enjoy much like it once did as a creamery, now with beer instead of dairy. It’s been fully restored with a 15 BBL brew length, 1500 BBL capacity brewing system on the main level and a loft with apartment and office space as well as rooftop patio on the upper level.
The beers for wildlife will continue to be brewed the way our fans have always enjoyed them, out of the Brau facility. This will free up the Bank Brewing Company to start fresh with new beers, facility, and brewing team.
JABlog: Hendricks, Minnesota is long ways from the present craft brewery action of Minneapolis and Duluth! Why open a brewery in a small town nestled on the South Dakota border?
RD: The location was a derived out of a love for the area and the people of Hendricks. The two abandoned spaces on main street were begging for a new life. In working with area economic development associations and historic preservation organizations we were able to give these two buildings a new purpose. Hendricks is a great, supportive community that has been extremely excited to see this to completion from day one. We have a burgeoning craft beer boom of our own over here on the border, with Brau just east in Marshall, MN, Wooden Legs Brewing to our east in Brookings, SD, Take 16 Brewing soon to open in Luverne, MN, as well as Gandy Dancer in Sioux Falls, SD, among others also in planning like Remedy Brewing of Sioux Falls, SD.
JABlog: I like to know who my beer comes from! Tell me a little about your brewing history.
RD: I am a home brewer and will always be one. It is really a homebrewer's dream come true to be given the opportunity to take over a commercial system. I'm currently taking a Chemistry of Beer course with the University of Oklahoma, as well as studying all the brewing texts I can get my hands on. I've watched or listened to every episode of of Brewing TV, Basic Brewing Radio, and The Brewing Network and have learned an amazing amount from those sources as well. In addition to those learning opportunities I have been helping the guys at Brau to brew out wildlife lagers once in a while to gain some commercial brewing experience.
JABlog: Tell me a bit about your personal connection to brewing and craft beer.
RD: Brewing to me has become an obsession, something that I think about doing all day every day. It has captivated me with its raw simplicity and its archaic techniques, while its intricacies, complexities, and unknowns are what keep me coming back for more. I know that there is no way that one person could possibly know what all the different combinations of water, grain, hops, and yeast taste like. However, I see it as a challenge to try and figure out many of themes that form those relationships. I love being a craft beer fan and am guilty for getting caught in the frenzy of always wanting to try the latest and greatest things that breweries dream up. I will carry this desire into my role as brewer, always pushing the envelope of innovation and creativity while brewing new and exciting things regularly. I want to focus the majority of our time on brewing interesting, exciting, thought provoking, conversation worthy beers. Not only that, I look forward to developing the community of craft beer in and around the Southeast Minnesota/ Southwest South Dakota area. I believe that offering a wide variety of palate entertaining and educating beers will be a fun and exciting experience for everyone. I am excited to brew beers that will span the gamut from classic to eccentric and everything in between. What you can expect from me as a person is friendliness, openness, humor and fun. I truly believe that life should be fun everyday and if its not then you are doing something wrong, this is why I am so grateful to be given the opportunity of taking a dream to reality and brew beer for a living!
I am a very open person, willing to share anything and everything with you about our brewery, our beers, and myself so please don't hesitate to contact me via email, Facebook, Twitter, Untappd or in-person at the brewery and taproom.@bankbrewer@bankbrewingco
JABlog: What types of beer are you planning on releasing from your new brewery? Are you aiming at the serious craft beer geek or more at the local casual beer drinker?
RD: I touched on this above as well but really what you can expect from us is things that excite the craft beer geeks and aim please the casual drinker with exciting flavors that temp their palates into further exploration. There are a couple styles we plan to lead with the first of which is Wanted - a tropical hoppy punch of a session IPA. This is a style that I have found myself wanting the most in the last year. A beer that has all the hop punch and amazing aromatics you get in a Double IPA while allowing you to have a few amongst friends without worrying about the inebriation that comes with the DIPA. Another beer that I have focused a lot of time on refining recently is Sour Bomb - a lemony, intensely tart beer that quenches my thirst for sours while being an everyday drinker. I look forward to playing with fruit variations on this one as well.
JABlog: How do you plan on marketing your beer? Taproom, bottles, cans, kegs?
RD: I may be crazy with this idea but my initial plan is to take 80% of every batch into kegs and sell in the taproom as well as draft accounts. The remaining 20% of each batch will be going into the 750 ml format with some great new label art, sold in the taproom only. So we will then be developing an archive of our bottle product since we will be taking some from each batch we can monitor how the beers develop over time.
JABlog: When do you plan to be up and running?
RD: The facilities are nearing completion and we should be cranking out the first batches early this summer.
JABlog: Thanks so much for the informative interview Richard! I look forward to trying the beers and seeing how this new move for the brewery will go. There may have to be a road trip involved! I'll post an update here when the brewery opens as well. For my readers, if you visit the brewery please post back here and tell us how it is!