For several years, three friends — Tom Berg, Andy Rutledge and Dan Herman — spent a lot of time talking about launching a brewery.
“Their conversations escalated, and escalated,” said Herman. “Finally, we just looked at each other and said, ‘We’re really doing this, aren’t we?’ And we all said, ‘Yeah.’”
They sure are. Their Falling Knife Brewing Co. is opening in mid-October, but on Tuesday, beer drinkers can get a preview of their handiwork, when Tilia chef/owner Steven Brown hosts a gathering at his Linden Hills restaurant.
The event is no coincidence: Herman spent eight years behind Tilia’s bar.
“It’s going to be a really cool moment to see our beer at Tilia, where I worked for forever,” said Herman.
Starting at 9 p.m., three kegs will be tapped: Cloud Surfing, a Hazy Double IPA; Ghost Step, a coffee sweet stout done in collaboration with neighboring UP Roasters, and Freischutz, a Northern German pilsner.
The trio has taken over, expanded and transformed the former NorthGate Brewing facility, located in an industrial park in northeast Minneapolis. The 149-seat taproom will feature table service — a rarity in Minnesota — and is being finished with custom-made furniture by Minneapolis-based Studio Elwira.
The brewery’s 5,000 square feet of production space is already in use; brewing started in July.
Berg is chief brewing officer, Rutledge is chief executive officer and Herman’s role falls into sales, marketing and public relations.
“And, apparently, delivery driver as well,” he said with a laugh, as he took a moment to talk while dropping off kegs at Grumpy’s for a preview. “This is the first day that we’ve actually sold beer to a place. I get to actually have one in a little bit.”
“The three of us were in conversations about, ‘Who is the next person who should get a shot a brewing?’” said Herman. “Robby is bright and dedicated and driven, and we’re so excited to have him.”
More previews to check out include Pub 42 in New Hope starting at 4 p.m. on Oct. 2, Palmer’s Bar in Minneapolis starting at 4 p.m. on Oct. 3, Butcher & the Boar starting at 4 p.m. on Oct. 5 and the Hopkins location of Pizza Luce starting at noon on Oct. 6.
When the brewery’s taproom debuts on Oct. 18, it’ll be set up for 16 beers. Five are ready now, and another four to five should be good to go by opening date.
As for the Falling Knife name, “It’s an old kitchen term,” said Herman. “A falling knife has no handle, you just let it drop, and you pick it up later, you don’t do the risky thing. But we’ve decided to take the risk. People say the market is saturated, and we’re going into a place where another brewery didn’t last. But we’re doing it. We know we’re not going to get everything right, that we’ll take a few licks. But we’re having fun with it, and thumbs up on that.”