Finding a niche in the niche brewery world

  • Article by: JAMES LILEKS , Star Tribune
  • Updated: April 28, 2012 - 9:33 PM

Rob Miller across the street from where he would like to open a microbrewery called Dangerous Man Brewing.

Photo: Jeff Wheeler, Star Tribune

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If you'd told people 100 years ago that local beer was coming back, they'd wonder what you meant. Isn't it all local?

Consolidation and plant closures made the ranks of American beers as thin as the product itself; the days of enormous brick factories perfuming the neighborhood with yeasty breezes disappeared.

But now some citizens are bringing back neighborhood ales, and we thought we'd tell you about one who hopes to be the Next Thing in beerworld: Rob Miller, founder of Dangerous Man Beer.

So, calling it Miller Beer was out of the question, we gather. How did you get the name?

"We were sharing a house in Texas with some friends. I had a big beard at the time, and I woke up one morning and was heading to the kitchen; a friend's daughter saw me, got startled and ran to her mom saying there's a dangerous man in the house.... I'm really not very dangerous," he adds.

Born and raised in south Minneapolis, Miller went to the University of Montana, met his wife and talked her into moving back here to Northeast.

"After moving back I started brewing beer at home. I always had a passion for beer in college" -- forgive us for interrupting, but that could also describes the guy who pounds Fox Deluxe. "Well, out west I tasted all these interesting beers, and when I got home I realized there wasn't a lot happening."

Day job, with a plan: "I was a produce manager for Whole Foods. My wife and I dreamed of opening a neighborhood taproom, then we realized it wasn't legal, so we put the dream on the shelf."

Then huzzah, the law changed, and taproom prohibition was over.

"When the Surly beer bill was catching momentum, we tweaked our plan and designed it around the taproom."

This week they'll start rehab on the brewery's home at 1300 2nd St. NE., and he hopes to be open by October. Unless he's sabotaged by unscrupulous competitors! Just kidding: It's a brotherhood, not a rivalry.

"The local brewers have been really supportive of me," Miller says. "Sharing secrets, the mistakes they made."

Surly beer, Dangerous Man -- there's a niche for someone who wants to make Even-Tempered Guy or Helpful Fellow Ale ("the beer to drink when you're filling out your United Way Pledge card!").

But we'll leave that to the next Minnesotan who decides there are thirsts to be slaked, and he's the man to do it. Good luck; skol.


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