Minnesota on Tap

Ryan Tuenge is an avid home brewer and craft beer lover who is not afraid to spend his last $5 on a pint of beer at the local pub. As a member of the Minnesota Home Brewers Association, Ryan has tried a wide variety of beers and has toured many of the local breweries. He also has a blog about craft beer in Minnesota. He likes to read, write and travel with his wife. Follow him on Twitter @lodgefather.

An Alternative Craft Beer Experience: The Four Firkins

Posted by: Ryan Tuenge under Beer, Local business Updated: March 23, 2012 - 12:01 AM

What started as a little Craft Beer store in a strip mall has now grown into the ultimate beer only store located in St. Louis Park. The Four Firkins, run by Jason Alvey, is more than just a beer store, it’s a beer buying experience. From the Craft Beer on the shelf to employees themselves; one can’t help but notice that this isn’t your typical liquor store. Employees who are passionate about their work can be seen directing customers to the latest offerings often making suggestions and pouring beer samples.

One thing that really separates the Four Firkins from other liquor stores is the customer service. “It's a lot of fun, everyone who works here will be very happy to get to know you” said Jason. Another thing you will notice about the Firkins that you don’t always find is that the inventory turns over rather quickly, which assures that your beer will always be fresh. After arriving here in 2001 Alvey, an Australian native, spent plenty of time doing research before opening his store and he learned a lot in the process. “Before I opened the Firkins I spent a lot of time driving around to lots of different liquor stores. I would typically find one of two environments. Either it would be a huge liquor store with lots of wine and maybe a good beer selection but nobody there could tell me anything about the beer and a lot of the beer was dusty and old”. Anyone who has ever been a victim of hop fade or light stricken beer never forgets that experience—an experience you won’t get at The Four Firkins.

Operating a beer only store does not come without struggles however. The actual cost of running such a store may surprise you, “Beer is the worst margin of any alcoholic beverage” said Alvey. “Most liquor stores make their money on cheap liquor with a high margin. Even wine has a much higher margin than beer.” In other words, do not expect to see more stores like this popping up around the metro—even with the Craft Beer boom we have been experiencing recently.

The Four Firkins even has a Minnesota beer history museum inside, which draws a lot of attention especially from new customers. Alvey, as he is known by most, is usually on duty greeting his customers, often referring to them as “mates” and can be heard telling them stories or sharing a laugh. The non-elitist attitude is welcoming, especially to new comers. According to Alvey, “We often say that we are not ‘beer snobs,’ we are ‘beer geeks,’ that is to say we want you to enjoy good beer as much as we do.”

The Four Firkins is open from 10 AM to 9 PM Monday through Saturday. You can even scout their beer selection before you go with the new search feature on their website.

As Alvey would say,
Cheers Mate! 

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