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Biz Buzz: Beer economics

Breweries are making a comeback.

The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development reported 2,538 breweries are operating nationally — the most in the nation since 1887.

In a recent DEED report on breweries, the state’s “burgeoning craft beer industry” was noted for producing 391,000 barrels last year. That amounts to an 83 percent increase during the past decade, DEED writer Jan Saxhaug noted.

DEED reported 65 of those operating breweries are in Minnesota.

Saxhaug referenced a 2011 story headlined “A Midwest Beer Tour to Cure the Winter Blues,” by the New York Times, which “highlighted the explosion of new breweries along the western tip of Lake Superior, likening the Northland’s brewery scene to a ‘north woods Napa Valley for the beer tourist.’”

According to the Brewers Association, American craft brewers sold 13.24 million barrels of beer (6.5 percent of all beer sales in the country) in 2012 — a 15 percent from 2011.

The Legislature’s passage of the bill allowing breweries to add tap rooms is visible in Baxter’s own Jack Pine Brewery on College Road. And Brainerd Lakes Beer, with business partners Jesse Grant and Dan Stanifer, were early on the list as they laid the ground for their microbrewery with a Brainerd site in 2008. Now the idea of the tap is included in the Boulder Tap House’s identity in Baxter. Craft beers are found on tap in a number of area restaurants.

“An unofficial count shows 65 regional brewing companies operating in Minnesota. According to Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau statistics, in 2012 there were 57 active brewery permits in the state, up from 26 in 2004,” DEED reported. “The amount of beer produced by the state’s breweries has increased 83 percent over the past 10 years, growing from 218,691 barrels in 2003 to 390,962 barrels in 2012.

“More than half of the state’s production comes from its two regional breweries, Summit Brewing Co. in St. Paul and Schell’s Brewing Co. in New Ulm. The remaining production comes from a variety of smaller microbreweries, brewpubs and contract brewing companies spread throughout the state, with notable concentrations in the Twin Cities and Duluth.”

In last week’s Biz Buzz, the news about the Woodtick Inn bar reopening was met with numerous positive comments. Several readers sent emails noting the Woodtick Inn, while it has a Deerwood address and lists Deerwood on its Facebook page, is physically in the city of Cuyuna not Deerwood as the column listed.

RENEE RICHARDSON, senior reporter, may be reached at 855-5852 or Follow on Twitter at

Renee Richardson
Richardson is a Pacelli High School graduate from Austin, Minn., who earned an applied science degree from the University of Minnesota, Waseca, with an emphasis in horse management. She worked extensively in the resort industry. She received an associate’s degree from Central Lakes College, where she was editor of the Westbank Journal student newspaper, as well as a summer intern at the Dispatch. She graduated from St. Cloud State University summa cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in mass communications and interned at the St. Cloud Times covering business while attending SCSU. She's been with the Brainerd Dispatch since 1996.
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