A Craft Beer Lover’s Craft Brewers Conference (2022)

December 14, 2022

“Do you want to head to the expo?” I asked Jason. We were shuffling out of the keynote. It was an interesting mix of speakers, the highlight being Natalie Cilurzo of Russian River. She shared stories—about how she came to wheel onto the stage in a hard cast on her leg, and how that related to their history. Her focus was on giving back to their community and how they supported it during difficult times. That’s a story all too common, especially with the wild fires that frequent California. While my mind tumbled over the implications of that trend my thoughts lingered toward the day ahead. “Yeah, let’s do it,” replied Jason.

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Loon Liquor

December 1, 2022
Loon Liquor Barrels

“How far is the next place?” my father-in-law asked. We were at local brewery in downtown Northfield, Minnesota. My brother-in-law and his fiancée were visiting from Utah. It was our once a year chance at catching up—face to face. They wanted to go out for drinks after dinner, Charles preference was beer and Maddie’s spirits. “It’s only a couple of minutes down the road,” I responded. Loon Liquor was next up.

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Mellow Mink Brewing

October 14, 2022

“Does anyone want to hit up a brewery before dinner?” I asked. We’d arrived in Mechanicsburg to discuss a project with a new client. It had been a long day, and I was antsy to get out of the air travel rut. “I’d go with you,” Chris replied. “We have some things to discuss. We’ll meet up with you at dinner,” the other two said. Chris and I were running a workshop the following day. With that looming we needed something to occupy our minds and take the edge off. We headed to Mellow Mink Brewing.

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A Craft Beer Lover’s Orlando Outing

September 29, 2022

“Anyone want to grab a drink before dinner?” I asked as we shuffled into the elevator. We’d arrived at our hotel, the conference would begin the following day. “I would,” Jake replied. “When?” Jeff asked. “I was thinking right now, but whenever you’re ready,” I responded. “I can be down in fifteen minutes,” said Jeff. Our welcome to Orlando would be through a craft brewery. I wouldn’t want it any other way.

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Thirsty Pagan Brewing

June 28, 2022

“They changed locations recently,” I said to my wife. We were on the Blatnik Bridge, Lake Superior lay calm to our left with the St. Louis Bay on our right. “Oh really, I don’t remember their old location. Where did they move?” she replied. “They’re in an old train depot, it looks neat,” I said. Our goal was an easy dinner, we had begun a winter trip to Duluth. Pizza sounded the ticket, and craft beer wouldn’t be bad either. Thirsty Pagan it was.

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Spiral Brewery

June 16, 2022

I have a particular affinity for river towns. I’m not talking Paris, although I love that city for many reasons and the Seine is one of them, I’m referring to small American towns. Most of these places followed a similar trajectory. They were born from the marriage of commerce and convenience. In the modern era of unparalleled freight options most have lost their identity and forced to strike a new course. What’s left is a stock of historic brick buildings and a whisper of the past. It’s a place for us to visit to be nostalgic for a time we never lived. Hastings, Minnesota is one such town, home to Spiral Brewery.

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1910 Sip House

June 7, 2022

“This might be a good day to go somewhere,” my wife said. It was early morning on our annual family trip to Lake Clitherall. The sun was risen, yet hidden by clouds. A fine drizzle threatened to sequester us inside the resort. “I was looking on the map and it looks like there is a new cidery north of Battle Lake,” I responded. She gave me a cocked her head and gave a thoughtful grin as if to say “that’s interesting.” It was time for 1910 Sip House.

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An Open Letter to the Anoka City Council

June 3, 2022
10K Brewing Taproom

I remember my first visit to Anoka. In 2016 my wife and I purchased a Northern Ale Guide. It’s like a trendy coupon book, with buy one get one deals at breweries throughout the state. The best part? If we visited all the locations, we’d get a free t-shirt. I’ve done a lot of things for a free t-shirt. I’ve volunteered for charities, run grueling obstacle races, and even started a t-shirt blog in my quest to fill out the edges of my wardrobe. Though one of the most enjoyable things I’ve done was traveling through Minnesota to get “free” beer and a “free” shirt.

10K Brewing was in that guide. They were my introduction to Anoka. I recall driving across the Rum River at dusk, the lights of the city enticing us. I recall turning onto 2nd Avenue, remarking at the collection of historic brick buildings. I remember parking—yes parking—because there was an actual lot with actual spaces. And of course, I recall entering the 10K taproom, ordering our beers, and settling in to enjoy the guitarist and vocalist that were performing that evening. I’ve been to Anoka five more times. Each was due to 10K. During those visits I’ve eaten at local restaurants, ordered coffee at local cafes, and shopped at local stores. I’ve encouraged others to do the same.

I’ve since learned that Anoka is the “Halloween Capital of the World.” It’s because I did a podcast with 10K’s owner Jesse Hauf where we tasted some seasonal brews. I’ve seen the town’s beautiful Christmas decorations, including the giant tree on the Jackson Street roundabout. It’s because they invited me to the grand opening of the Empire Room, an event space they opened in the same building. I’ve learned about the city’s water quality. It’s because they gave me a tour of the brewhouse and the special equipment installed to ensure the beer is of the highest quality for their patrons.

Imagine my delight when I heard 10K had plans for a brand new facility. A bigger brewhouse, a full kitchen, an expanded offering, a rooftop patio, a top notch sound system, a chance to grow. Imagine my disappointment when I learned the city was proceeding with a purchase agreement for a restaurant chain that already has eight locations. I live in Bloomington. I don’t know what the restaurant is but, based on our access to almost every chain, I imagine there is no reason for me to travel to Anoka for it. Ditto for the city’s 90,000 other residents, not to mention the entire Twin Cities metro area.

Breweries are a gathering place for people of all races, creeds, and cultures. On any given visit you’re likely to see a retired couple, a newborn, a family of four, and a first date—at the same time. There are no bartenders, there are beertenders. It’s not a bar, it’s a taproom. There aren’t other customers, there are other friends. A craft brewery is woven into the fabric of a community more than a chain restaurant ever could be.

None of my comments are surprising given my primary hobby is blogging about craft beer. But beer tourism is real. A study from the Brewer’s Association learned that 10 million people visited a craft brewery in a given year, 5 million of those were out-of-towners, and 18% of all craft drinkers travel to three or more breweries each year. Given that the amount of craft breweries in the United States has since more than doubled—from 4014 to 9247—I guarantee those numbers have grown too. These people share their journey with their friends and family like they never would for a chain.

Nice beer. Nice people. Jesse and I spoke at length about what their tagline means to him and how it translates to his business model. As you may know, he was born in the area and is a current resident of Anoka. He’s passionate about building a sustainable local business with a mission to give back to the community. He’s started a non-profit that supports underfunded K-12 music programs. He’s donated the proceeds of their Empower Sour to Alexandra House, an organization committed to ending domestic and sexual violence. He’s done more than I can list. And he does these things not because he has a corporate mandate to donate. It’s because he cares. He’s invested time, energy, money, sweat, tears—every currency available to a human—into the city of Anoka. It’s time for the city to invest back in him.

Waiting with hope,
Ryan Salsman, Tap Traveler

For more details on the specifics of the situation please visit 10kdta.com.

Sawmill Pizza & Brew Shed

May 2, 2022

“I see a sign, right there,” I said to my wife. We were returning from a weekend at my sister’s cabin in Hayward, Wisconsin and had decided to take a different route back. “Oh yeah, I see it,” she replied. An old brick schoolhouse sat on the corner; a hand-painted wooden sign pointed the way. “Pizza and beer, sounds like what we’re looking for,” I said. Sawmill Pizza & Brew Shed awaited.

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Ineffable Brewing Company

April 15, 2022

“Do you want to grab something before we pick up the kids?” my wife asked. Habits are hard to break. The pandemic forced us to establish new routines. We used to do mini-dates before we’d pick up the kids from my in-laws. The lockdowns adjusted that practice enough to make excluding that automatic. Now it was June, the first week of summer. Now things were open and we were discovering old habits lost to time. “Of course, how about Ineffable? It’s that new brewpub in Burnsville.”

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