There are plenty of places in the city to and get a beer. However, in the last five years, the focus has turned from places to get a beer to places where you really want to go to get a beer. The drinking options in the midst of the Twin Cities taproom explosion have increased in a staggering way. As places continue to open, it becomes more and more about providing drinkers with great beer to drink, but also an atmosphere that is conducive to enjoying the company of others as they drink craft beer.
Fair State Brewing Cooperative has been open for just about six months and provides craft beer drinkers with unique and delicious beers. Fair State also fosters a wonderful craft beer drinking community with a co-op membership that is over 600 strong and growing.
Lets start with the look of the taproom. The exposed brick and long, beautiful bar give the taproom a very comfortable feel. The bar was made of the reclaimed wood from the original building. The uniqueness and high quality of the bar allow for plenty of seating, as it stretches far down at least half the length of the taproom. The layout is perfect for meeting people and having great conversation. There are windows that allow you to see into the brewhouse. The bathroom is down a hallway and on the wall of that corridor the words, “Drink like you own the place” are painted. That statement speaks volumes about the experience that the founders of the brewery want their patrons to have.
Fair State Brewing Cooperative was founded by three college friends, Evan Sallee, Niko Tonks and Matthew Hauck, who all have shared an interest in beer dating back to 2002 when they met in college. The cooperative nature of the business stems from a desire to connect good people with good beer. The state of MN has a very high number of cooperative businesses ranging from farm shares to places to shop for groceries, so a cooperative brewery seemed like something that would work well. As of 2-19-15, Fair State had over 600 members, a number that has far exceeded what they initially projected. The membership benefits include, but are not limited to voting on different beer styles every couple of months. Members also enjoy Happy Hour prices ($1.00 off pints and $.50 off half-pints) all day on Monday and Wednesday-Friday from 4-7pm. Recently, a Fair State Brewing Cooperative-themed Members Only jacket became a perk for signing up!
Fair State’s beers are the deft and nuanced concoctions of Head Brewer, Nico Tonks. Nico started at Jester King Brewing and Live Oak Brewing in Austin, TX, where he learned the art of brewing continental lagers and wheat beers. The availability of local ingredients often dictates what is brewed. Although, Pilsner is the favorite style of the taproom and their version is on-point. In addition to lagers, they also brew ales and will usually have a nice selection of each on tap. One of the things I was especially impressed with was their sour beer, Lactobac 1. Their barrel aging program is expanding and in the future, there will be more and more delicious barrel aged selections to enjoy.
Groucho Marx once said, “I refuse to join any club that would have me as a member.” Fair State Brewing Cooperative’s passion for beer combined with the amazing community being fostered there might cause him to rethink his prolific statement. The options for drinking good beer in the Twin Cities and beyond are great, but finding a place with this type of inviting atmosphere is not as easy. Fair State has hit all the marks, so get there and try the amazing drinking experience for yourself. Prost!