Fair State Brewing Coop’s Massive Expansion

If you subscribe to the adage of ‘If you’re not growing, you’re dying”, Fair State Brewing Cooperative has been secretly working out and taking steroids. To an excited gathering at a members-only event on September 6, President, CEO and Chief Holder of Fancy Titles Evan Sallee announced the next phase of expansion for the co-op: a production brewery capable of quintupling beer production in the Midway industrial district.

The numbers shared by Sallee would cause any entrepreneur to drool: keg sales have gone up 82%. Taproom sales are up 50% over last year. Liquor store sales since they started canning? Up 388%. Demand for their award-winning beers is off the charts. With peer, industry, local, state and national recognition as one of the best up-and-coming breweries in the country, they’ve released 78 different beers and seen a membership explosion from 125 to over 900 members.

The face of the expansion

East entry exterior view. The patio joins up with a customer reception area and spacious office inside.

“The existing brewery on Central Avenue is going to stay exactly the same,” announced Salle to a cheering and relieved membership. “The existing brewhouse will become Niko’s laboratory to continue to craft, experiment and develop new beers.  This facility is going to help us meet demand for our more popular beers.”

The new brew house will come with 120 BBL cold and hot liquor tanks feeding with a 30 barrel mash tun and kettle, processing via whirlpool and centrifuge before filling 4 x 90 barrel fermenters (with space for more) and 4 horizontal lager tanks.  Barrel aging racks, a keg/cooler space bigger than the entire current brewery footprint, a canning line, a full lab, modern offices and trailer-level docks will all reside in the new space.  While the leased space is 40,000 sq ft, parts are planned to be leased out to another business.  “We should not have to move again,” remarked a smiling Matt Hauck, Director of Operations.

Brew house expansion

Artist’s rendering. The artist has no idea how big 90 BBL fermenters are.  They will reach to the ceiling!  But who am I to judge – this looks much better than what I could do in MS Paint.

“Are you doing the expansion in steps?” I asked Niko Tonks, Head Brewer. “No, we’re going to do it all at once,” he replied. Niko went on to explain that the search for additional brewing space has been going on for over a year. “We looked everywhere, but we kept coming back to this space.”  The building is flanked by two parking lots, which seem to dare the co-op to hold even larger events that the taproom could not.  When asked if they’d be open to sharing space or collaborating with Midway brewing neighbors Lake Monster, Urban Growler, Burning Bros and Bang Brewing, Tonks said anything is possible.

Because Minnesota law does not allow a brewery to have more than 1 taproom, only samples can be offered to tourists and guests at the production brewery.  There will be no on- or off-sale beer here.

Sallee ran through other statistics which caused multiple rounds of applause.  Their charitable “Fair State Cooperates” effort has contributed over 10% of revenues to 12 worthy, non-profit causes in the community chosen by the membership and the board of directors.  Their volunteer group has worked over 3000 hours with these organizations, further helping them to succeed in their mission.

“The goal is to start brewing by 12/31, even if this means we’re boiling some water.” quipped Peter Heidorn, freshly-hired marketing, and communications manager. “There are some advantages to brewing in the same year you buy your equipment. Not sure what’s actually possible or if that’s too ambitious.”

Memberships and volunteer opportunities are still available at fairstate.coop/shop. Ready to turn your skills into free beer? Check fairstate.coop/events for upcoming volunteer dates or contact Davin at davin@fairstate.coop.




About the author

Brian Hayes (aka Pika) has enjoyed over 1700 unique Minnesota-brewed beers (some more than once). He prefers taprooms over bars, variety over standards, dark beers over light and harbors a secret affection for fruit beers.