Friday, November 21, 2014

Fair State Brewing Cooperative Review

On a recent field trip into the Twin Cities, my wife and I stopped by Fair State Brewing Cooperative taproom for a pint.  This brewery is located on Central Avenue in Minneapolis, surrounded by an eclectic mix of Thai, Mexican, Chinese, and Middle Eastern restaurants and shops.  I have never really visited this neighborhood before but is seems like a great place to try some unusual (for Minnesotans) foods and a trip to the taproom.  While the brewery itself does not serve food, they encourage people to bring in food from those local restaurants.

Drawn in by the Red and Yellow logo, we entered this brightly lit and spare taproom.  Some booths and tables offer seating, as well as some at the bar toward the rear of the building.  The place is long and narrow, well lit with light colored walls and wood.  I liked the colorful Fair State mural on one wall near the entrance as it brought a punch of color to the room. 

What makes Fair State different from the other Minneapolis breweries is its business model.  Taking a cue from artist and grocery coops, the brewery offers member ownership of the brewery.  For a $200 fee ($300 to include a spouse) one becomes a member/owner of the coop.  There are special tappings, discounted happy hour beers, and referral rewards as benefits to joining.  There is also an elected board of directors which you can run for or vote for as a member.  They hope to also offer dividends to owners as the brewery becomes profitable.  This is an intriguing concept for a brewery, and may draw a different type of clientele for them than some others.  I do like the idea of having an ownership in a brewery and potentially having some impact on the operations and choices that brewery makes.  I also like the idea of a free pint the anniversary of your joining the group!  Once we sat down I noticed that the entire wall behind our booth had photos of members on clipboards, bringing a personal touch to the otherwise fairly understated taproom.  There were lots of blank spots left, so it looks like there is plenty of space for new recruits up there!

Wall of owners!

Even if you aren't a member, anyone can stop by for a drink.  10 different beers were on tap, and they offer full and half pints.  I was sad that there was no sampler to try them all, but the bartender was happy to give me couple of samples to try before ordering a full pint.  I ended up getting the schwarzbier--a very good example of the classic German dark lager, followed by a very well balanced IPA.  Sj ordered a stout that was pleasant but perhaps a bit more roasty like a porter.  We also got to taste Cletus (that sounds so wrong!) an Imperial Hefe that was interesting, but not my style. 

I didn't stay here long, but enjoyed the vibe and would certainly stop in again.  If I lived in the area I would probably join up.

I like the sentiment: Drink like you own the place!

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