Joel grew up in Northern Minnesota, a part of the state which, at the time, wasn't exactly known for its abundance of craft beer. So he headed South in search of something better. Like many drinkers raised on Midwestern craft beer, it was Summit EPA first and Bells Two Hearted Ale second that opened his mind to bitterness, hop-forward flavor and the unlimited possibilities of beer. These revelatory experiences inspired him to start homebrewing in 2004, and he hasn’t looked back since. He’s been a professional brewer since 2007, with stints at Minneapolis Town Hall Brewery, Boathouse Brewpub and Great Waters Brewing Co. under his belt.
What got me started in craft beer? That's a tough question to answer. Was it my vague memory as a child going up to the fruit bowl and finding that the grapes had turned into a crude version of wine- sparking research into fermentation? Was it time spent living in Wyoming with several trips per week to Fort Collins Colorado? Was it some marketing scheme that caused me to grab a outrageously green can of beer off the shelf, opening the door to craft beer with one of its founders?
I had heard stories about a close friend making beer in his kitchen; that always led to inches of water on the floor, people drunk, and an end result of a sub-par beer. So I decided to attend one of these get-togethers to satisfy my curiosity. Let's just say it was everything I expected and more. I also saw many ways of improving the process so I decided to make my own system. With much stricter tolerances for temp and sanitation, along with a sober mind and a foresight to not wear socks while brewing, I started making beer the winter of 2009.
Competition quickly excelled our skills and soon we were brewing week and sharing new techniques we had learned. Passing my beer out to friends and family soon turned into bringing 3 kegs to Christmas and donating my beer to charity auctions to raise money for worthy causes.
Then one holiday my uncle brought up an idea "how would you like to start a brewery?" How could I say no? Soon after I was sitting down with Paul and Mark sampling and describing my beer and talking about the possibilities of the future.