From the August Schell Brewery in New Ulm, Minnesota's oldest craft brewer, to the just-established Mankato Brewery, the craft beer phenomenon is going gangbusters. Surly, Summit and Steel Toe are just three of 30-some labels in the state that constitute the specialty brew industry.

Indeed, craft beer is gaining a firm foothold across all of the Upper Midwest.

According to Advertising Age, sales of craft beer in the region jumped 16 percent last year, greater than the national increase of 15.1 percent and greater than the West Coast increase of 13.3 percent -- the region where craft beers really got their start.

The trade journal cites one of the newest Minnesota producers, 612Brew, as a prime example of the rapidly sprouting craft beer industry. Earlier this week, 612Brew said it has leased space at Central Avenue and Broadway in northeast Minneapolis and plans to open a taproom by late fall.

"We're proud to be a part of the craft beer scene in Minnesota," said 612Brew co-founder Ryan Libby. "States like California, Oregon, Washington and Colorado support hundreds of small and independent breweries. We're excited that Minnesota is growing into a formidable beer state as well."

Among the top 10 states in terms of craft breweries per capita, according to the Brewers Association, neighboring Wisconsin ranks ninth while Vermont ranks first. In the same survey, which uses 2010 numbers, Minnesota ranks 26th but has added at least 10 new craft breweries since then.

David Phelps • 612-673-7269