The first ever pint of Fulton was poured at The Happy Gnome on October 28th, 2009. To commemorate our 10th anniversary, over the course of 2019 we'll be publishing a series of 10 stories from the last 10 years in our blog and newsletter. Welcome to Part 1.
IN THE BEGINNING THERE WAS HOMEBREW
Starting a brewery was not the original plan. That came later.
First it was a Mr Beer homebrew kit; a gift. Then an experimental brew over a long cabin weekend with inconclusive results. An invitation over birthday beers at Gluek’s Bar. The first “real” brew day on a -13 degree day in February 2007. The first sips a few weeks later gave the first hint: we can make beer. Good beer!
The next two years whipped by. The Saturday morning trips to Northern Brewer and Midwest Supplies, and the slightly later Saturday morning trip to pick up the hose clamps you forgot. Moving from a kitchen stovetop and carboys in the basement to a single turkey burner and a modified half barrel keg in a one car garage to a 3-vessel 10 gallon all-grain system with pumps and programmable temperature control in a two car garage.
Somewhere everywhere along the way we were drinking beers — possibly homebrews or possibly another craft beer in bottles that hopefully didn’t have the dreadful (to a homebrewer) pressure sensitive labels that are impossible to remove when it’s time to clean your bottles for reuse. And over those beers someone first spoke the words “wouldn’t it be cool if we started our own brewery someday? An actual brewery, not just a home brewery?” This was a novel conversation that made the four of us unique from exactly zero other homebrewers who had ever brewed a good beer. The differences in our case ended up being timing, a little bit of luck, and a deep well of persistence tinged with a healthy hint of ignorance.
At that time, we thought one of the hardest parts was gauging how good our beer actually was. And, even if it was objectively good, would that mean it would actually sell? Sure, there are open competitions that judge beers on their fundamental merit — but winning gold medals for homebrew recipes is far from a guaranteed recipe for commercial success in the marketplace against the Goliath international breweries and the well-established regional craft breweries.
On the other hand, our families and friends continually told us how good our beer was. The problem, though, is that friends and family feedback is not exactly a high bar of professional critique. You have your family, who are Minnesota Nice and just want to participate in the appearance of success — so they’ll tell you it’s great beer, regardless of how it actually tastes. Then there are your friends, who have been consuming reasonable volumes of your beer and are both a) inebriated enough to be disqualified from any professional gravitas they might have otherwise carried (and likely had none to being with) and b) not going to criticize the hand that’s feeding them free beer.
So there was an objectively problem. But we carried on nonetheless.
One recipe, “Wagging Tail Pale Ale,” — an early version of what would only much later become our third year-round beer “The Ringer” — was a particular favorite. We poured through a lot of 5 gallon cornie kegs of that in 2007-08, and as we got closer to launching the business we were convinced that it would be our solo launch beer. The beer got better and better over time, and even though we didn’t launch with it initially, thankfully the name got better too.
It wasn’t until very close to our target launch date — less than 3 months — that we were convinced to come out with an IPA instead of a pale ale. As we sampled Wagging Tail to more and more of the local industry figures, we kept getting similar variations of this response: “This is nice. Have you ever thought of making an IPA? This is kind of a hops market.”
We had actually thought of an IPA, if only for a minute or two. Sweet Child of Vine was a name that came before a recipe, thanks to a fortuitously timed radio play of a certain G’n’R song on a brew day. The beer we later brewed to fit the name fell into place the second time we ever brewed it. It was almost perfect.
So we thought we had the beer figured out. But that wasn’t the hard part (not that there was an easy part). In 2009, locally brewed beer felt like it was on the cusp in Minnesota, but it was not yet a big thing. A whopping 12 breweries were in operation in the state — or, one for every 440,000 people. To make things more difficult, Minnesota regulations made an already challenging business even moreso, compared to more beer-progressive states. Taprooms wouldn’t become legal in Minnesota until 2011. There were zero production packaging / distributing breweries in Minneapolis at that time and even if there had been it was illegal for them to sell growlers.
But — though we didn’t know the extent of it at the time — we were riding the crest of a major wave. Our state was ready for modern beer laws, and we were in prime position to push them along.
If the sky is the limit then we've proudly hit that limit. 10 years ago while brewing in our garage we would have never imagined being able to enjoy a MN craft beer in-flight (let alone one of our own beers). But, as of this past Friday March 1st Fulton's Lonely Blonde is now available on Sun Country flights.
So many destinations, so little time. One thing is for sure, we're headed somewhere warm soon for Spring Break. Vegas anyone?
Minnesota's favorite American Blonde Ale 5 miles up in the air? Yep, we'll drink to that.
It's weeks like this that serve as a not-so-subtle reminder that we're residents of the North. Though the extreme weather might be occassional, the extraordinary beer is consistent.
Speaking of extraordinary beer...are you ready for the big game? We are. And so are many of our retail partners that have stocked up on Fulton 12 packs (of 12oz bottles) for February. You'll find special pricing on Lonely Blonde, Sweet Child of Vine, and Standard Lager across the metro all month. Your fave local store run out of Fulton!?!? Ask 'em for more!
At Fulton we're true believers of "love at first sight". And when we saw the menu for the annual Valentines Day dinner w/ Fulton at Republic we fell head over heels all over again with one of our favorite beer bars in town. What's even better this year is that they're extending the menu thru Saturday the 16th giving you 3 days to pick from. Each of the 4 courses comes with a clever pairing of a unique Fulton beer, including a first taste of our latest Mixed Fermentation beer: Culture Project 3 (pictured above). Tickets are finite and available right here. Menu below:
Prix Fixe Menu with Fulton Beer Pairings
Trio of Cheese
Shepherd’s Way Sogn, Shepherd’s Way Big Woods Blue, Four Fat Fowl Brie
(Fulton Culture Project 3)
Caramelized Carrot Soup
Balsamic reduction, grilled baguette
Seared Duck Breast
Rainbow pave, truffled demi glace
Cocoa, crushed Oreo’s, creme chantilly
(Fulton Cognac BA Worthy Adversary)
Sometimes it takes a little bit of hope to get into a healthy head space this time of year. Spending all week below zero, we've been constantly reminding ourselves that there's spring days, bike rides, and block parties ahead. Another big motivator for us is anticipating meeting riders at our weekly Early-bird registration drive nights in February. Each Wednesday come on down to the Fulton taproom anytime from 4-8pm, sign up for the Fondo at the lowest price, and get yourself a free beer right then and there. Can't make it out? That's ok too. You can sign up for $39.95 right here through 2/28/19.
Whlie you're signing yourself up for one of MN's biggest bike rides of the year, make sure you're going to be riding in style with the 2019 Fulton Gran Fondo jersey. Both men's AND women's sizes this year and made by our friends at Twin Six. Pre-order yours right here.
Our Downtown MPLS neighbors at Parallel are turning 1! They're celebrating with a good, old-fashioned Latte Art Throwdown. Join us for an evening of friendly competition, cool folks, hot coffees, and $1 Fulton Beer. Doors open for signups at 6:00p and the competition starts at 7:00p. Throw downs are fun to watch, even if you don’t know anything about latte art or coffee (the $1 beers help out too). Not yet convinced? Find out more on the event site.
It's your fault Fulton is here, today, on the cusp of our 10th anniversary year. To say that we wouldn't have made it this long without your continued support is a gross understatement. People have been at the center of everything we do and make here at Fulton since day one. That focus and commitment to our people, our communities, and the quality craft beers we make for you never wavers. As we wind down the last full week of 2018, we can't help but feel an incredible sense of gratitude. So, thank you. All of you (you know who you are).
What's a bit of introspection and looking-back if not for a great opportunity to do the complete opposite and get starry-eyed for the future? Right? In doing such we present to you (above) the 2019 Fulton Brewing Brand Calendar in all it's tentative splendor. For those following along with Fulton over the years you'll quickly notice how much newness we have planned for everyone next year. Coffee, fruit, mixed packs, and our first Radler all play supporting roles in what's about to be an extremely tasty year ahead. But we think one of the most exciting things of note is our brand extension of Minnesota's favorite American Blonde Ale...
What happens when you take your favorite thing and give it a twist? Pure, refreshing, awesomeness is what happens. We took your go-to beer and added the perfect amount of grapefruit to give it just enough citrusy goodness to leave you wanting more. Like the classic version, it's smooth, easy-drinking, and nearly perfect for any occasion. After months of testing and keeping secrets we've got our sights happily locked on April for a launch (just in time for warmer months ahead). Stay tuned!
It's the season of traditions! With one weekend left to party we're joining up with our pals Madre Cacti and Sam Cassidy to bring you the 2nd annual Rolling Xmas Revue. It's a night of good times, good tunes, buds, and beers all benefiting another good friend of many, Mr. Aaron "HIX" Lee. It's all going down at Terminal Bar this Saturday at 8.
There's no room for "It's a school night, I can't go" excuses when it comes to next Monday's NYE party at The Hook and Ladder Theater. The night features snacks, a champagne toast, (Fulton) beers, and live music from 2 of the Midwest's finest. Tickets are still available and you can get yours right here.
On Sunday December 2nd we joined hundreds of Minnesota's finest at Circus Juventas for the first Growler Magazine Kind Of A Big Deal Awards ceremony. Whereas in year's past the awards were given in a less formal (but more personal) setting, this year's ceremony was an incredibly organized celebration of craft here in MN. It was a party not to miss, certainly.
Blonde for the win! For two years running Fulton's Lonely Blonde has won the "American Blonde Ale" category. Minnesota, thank you. Our most recognizable and widely available beer is that way because of you.
Introducing two new (limited) variations of our beloved 300 Mosaic IPA. Better than the original? Well, that is left to individual preference but we're confident that you'll enjoy both and will find them incredible cousins to their not so distant cousin. Find both the Mango and Brut versions in our new 300 Mixed 4pack of tallboys available now.
Whether you have been forgetting to go shopping or you were waiting for the last minute on purpose, we've got you covered. Last Call is back! Come check out the wares of nearly 20 MN makers at the Food Building the Saturday before Christmas. With local foods by our friends at Lowry Hill Meats and beers by us (duh), you're destined to have your fave shopping experience of the year. The fun begins at 3. Be there.
Registration for the 2019 Fulton Gran Fondo is open! We kicked off early bird registration for next year's event last week and you can sign up online for the lowest price of $39.95 from now through the end of February. Want to ride with us? Get yourself registered right here.
Ride in style with us this year wearing the 2019 Fulton Gran Fondo jersey. And ladies, you spoke and we listened. For the first time ever we're offering this limited design in both Women's and Mens sizes. Order yours in advance of the big day right here.
You can't claim the "North" and not embrace the cold. At Fulton, we happily look forward to the seasonal shift towards chiller weather and all the new that follows it. With plenty to do in the week ahead, we're here to share a few reasons to get up and out with Fulton.
Minneapolis' biggest ode to the season is back again. And by which, we're talking about Holidazzle. With something for all ages and many interests, the Thursday-Sunday festival brings together the very best of the city over the holidays. Back again for the 4th year running, Fulton's heated beer garden is bigger and better than ever. Also back, is our Holidazzle Proper Porter with the addition of cold press coffee from our buddies Big Watt Coffee.
A list of highlights and scheduled events and happenings for all things Holidazzle lives here. See you in Loring Park!
Have you been to the Fulton taproom lately? If not, then here are a few reasons to consider. One: Beer! At last count, we've got 25 different beers on the menu at our humble little North Loop taproom. That's a lot of variety, more than ever before, in fact. Two: Merch! We've added tons of seasonal goodies to our assortment just in time for some holiday gifting. Three: Happenings! From meat raffles, free music nights, the return of our weekly vinyl nights and more-we've got it going on. And while we're talking about taproom events...
We might be 6 months away, but trust us, there are 1,600+ #FultonGranFondo riders eagerly waiting for the first weekend of May to come. While we can't speed up time, we can do our part to get all you cyclists a little closer to the action. This coming Wednesday in the Fulton Taproom we're hosting on Early Bird Registration night for the 2019 Fulton Gran Fondo. While you're there, get signed up for another Fulton-sponsored bike event in the Lutsen 99er. Sign up for them both and get 2 free beers (for consumption that night, in the taproom).
The holidays are great for surprises and we've got one for you right here. From one-off to once-a-year to year-round, our 300 Mosaic IPA has become one of our most acclaimed beers. Now, we’re happy to share two new variants of our beloved 300: one a dry, effervescent “Brut”; and one fermented on pureed mango. This special 300 Mixed Pack comes out soon, so keep your eyes on these emails and our Instagram for updates.
We've talked the talk, but now we're walking the walk. We've taken a step into a whole new territory for Fulton with the release of our very first Mixed 12 pack. What's inside you ask? We've taken our beloved 300 Mosaic IPA and double-dry-hopped it with Citra to bring even more hop aroma to you. If you liked 300 before, you're in for a real treat. Speaking of hops, we've taken our Session IPA Hopstar and bottled it for the first time. What was once a Holidazzle exclusive has now been bottled, too. Yep, we're talking Proper Porter. And last but not least, Minnesota's favorite Blonde Ale (Lonely Blonde, duh) sneaks into the mix for those who are looking for something familiar to round out the pack. Look for this 12er where you regularly buy Fulton beginning now.
The holidays are an exciting time of the year for us in the taproom. With new beers, new merch, and lots of old and new friends alike, the space is always bustling. Between our weekly comedy nights (Wednesdays) and our Sunday Music Series, we've got a bunch of free fun to experience here in the North Loop. Also worth mentioning, if you're looking for a place to host your holiday party, look no further. Just give our Taproom Events Manager a shout here.
Hollidazzle is near! Minneapolis' premier holiday celebration is coming back and with it, Fulton as the official beer for our 4th straight year. Loring Park comes alive for 5 straight weeks of winter-themed fun (both indoors and out) beginning next Friday, November 23rd. We took our exclusive Holiazzle Proper Porter and amped it up a bit with the addition of Cold Press from our friends at Big Watt Coffee for an incredibly smooth, deceptively decadent version of our American Porter. You can get Fulton inside our humungous tented (heated) beer garden and outside amongst a bevy of local businesses in the Holidazzle market. Admission is always free and the event is all ages to attend. See you next weekend in the park!
A sizable understatement, we know. But as we stare down the final months of this year and set our sights on the one ahead, we're reminded of just how big of a year 2018 has turned out to be. That said, with only 2 full months left we've got some exciting things to share.
"Eagerly Awaited", that's our general feeling this time of year when we can smell our annual release of War & Peace brewing. As you'd expect, it's pitch black, smooth as silk, and packed to the brim with coffee flavor provided by a pound of organic PEACE COFFEE beans per barrel. It's making it's yearly return in both draft and in 4packs of 12oz bottle the first full week of November.
Our first "big" mixed pack is here. Or, almost. Early November brings us some familiar and not-so-familiar faces by way of this flashy 12pack. We've packed 3-each of Lonely Blonde, Hopstar, Proper Porter, and a special double-dry-hopped (w/ CITRA) version of our acclaimed 300 Mosaic IPA. This is the first time Proper Porter has ever been packaged and the first time Hopstar has been put in bottles. With a little bit of something for everyone, it's perfect for holiday gatherings, weekends of raking, and special soirées. Look for it wherever you find Fulton in your neighborhood.
Community, commonality, and local flavor. Oh, and Whiskey. These are some of the cornerstone qualities of our partnership with Jameson. For the 2nd iteration of our collaboration beer with the largest Irish Whiskey maker in the world, we worked to further develop the presence of coffee flavors and aromas while paying close attention to the balance needed when working with oak and whiskey. The fruits of these labors can soon be enjoyed at a number locales here in the MSP metro area. Don't want to wait till your neighborhood bar taps their keg? Well then, come join us in our taproom where it's already on draft.
This Saturday is our own special holiday here at Fulton. In celebration of all things 300, we're hosting 6 separate events across town on the 300th day of 2018. For the full skinny including where to find our wrestler "Chaos 300" (Pictured above), head on over to our events page right here.
The Fulton Star Cross is back again. Though it might be a sanctioned USA Cycling race, don't let the officialness spook you into thinking this is anything less than a totally fun, completely bonkers, spectator-approved race extravaganza. Meet us at Lions Valley Place Park for 2 days (and 1 night!) of the Midwest's most enjoyable CX racing. To get in on the action, you've got to register by 11/1 (go ahead and take care of that here).
Locavore? Food lover? Forager? Fisher? Hunter? Gardener?
This Monday, 10/8, we’ll be opening our taproom for a book signing by Hank Shaw, the James Beard award-winning author, blogger, podcaster, and outdoorsman. (Guess it would have been easier to just call him a renaissance man). Hank is already well-known for his elevated wild game recipes in his previous cookbooks “Buck, Buck, Moose” and “Duck, Duck, Goose”, and now he’s touring in support of his newest culinary curation, “Pheasant, Quail, Cottontail.”
Doors open at 5:00, and though it’s open to all and no ticket required, you might be interested in the $45 package deal which includes the book, one beer, and two appetizers inspired by Hank’s recipes and prepared by our awesome kitchen team. Not to be outdone by the kitchen, our brew crew kegged a sahti-inspired infusion of Keller Pils just for Monday's event.
You can buy the package deal here, or just show up on Monday, no ticket needed. If you’re not buying the ticket, you can go a la carte style: the bar and kitchen will be open for regular orders, and Hank will have books for purchase at a discount too.
We're in the back half of August now and summer's end is looming. The cicadas are singing, teachers are prepping for upcoming classes, and the back-to-school sales are in high supply. Here at Fulton though, we're not throwing in the towel on summer just yet. You know the saying "everything good must come to an end"? We raise our pint-holding hands in stern opposition to this as we prepare ourselves for one last Summer hurrah at the Minnesota State Fair. Our annual pilgrimage to the fairgrounds in search of everything-on-a-stick is something we look forward to for months. Like you, we find ourselves in (frequent) need of some fine refreshments while visiting. With 2 million people cycling through there over 12 days, the crowds can get thick enough to lose your bearings from time to time. As such, you might find yourself asking "Where the heck can I get myself a Fulton?". Well, we're here to help with that question. We've got this nifty map we made just for you to help locate some of your favorite Fulton beers. Better yet still, we've brewed up an exclusive Frontier Summer IPA for our friends at Frontier Bar. All the excitement kicks off Thursday...see you at the fair!
Linden Hills' favorite block party awaits you THIS Sunday. We've teamed up with our buddies at Tilia to help bring you AUGTOBERFEST. The food is excellent (duh), the drinks are extraordinary (double duh), and the good times are assured. The party vibes kick off at 3pm and tickets ($8 for adults, 10 and under free) are available at the gate. For more details follow this here link to the land of information.