We're bigger than beer


Posted Friday October 24, 2014
In dog beers, we've only had one.

On October 28, 2009, The Happy Gnome tapped the first keg of Sweet Child of Vine. Until that evening, Fulton existed only as a daydream, an idea. We were extremely proud of that first batch, and we hoped that at least our close friends and family would come out to try a pint that night. They did, and so did hundreds and hundreds of others. Several hours and ten kegs of Sweet Child later, Fulton was no longer just an idea. The first years of Fulton were a blur: stealing time from our day jobs to drive to Wisconsin and brew at Sand Creek Brewery, where all of our initial batches came from; late nights around Jim’s kitchen table trying to figure out how to run a business and where the money for the next order of kegs would come from; promos every day of the week at the first seven, then the first 25, then the first 50 and 100 bars to carry Fulton; hungover Saturdays in Pete’s garage perfecting the homebrew recipes that would become Lonely Blonde, Worthy Adversary, and more. Our founding vision was to start out as a contract brewer, and build a Minneapolis brewery as soon as we could afford it—sometime in the next five or ten years, we thought—and to quit our day jobs along the way. At the time, there were no taprooms in Minnesota, and no packaging breweries in Minneapolis. We had no idea we would be among the first for both. A lot has changed over the last five years. We don’t contract brew anymore, and we have that Minneapolis brewery we dreamed of – two of them, actually. The four of us ditched our day jobs to work full time for Fulton, and so have three dozen other fine people. Sweet Child of Vine is still our best seller, but we brew over a dozen other beers every year. Our first seven bars are still loyal Fulton customers, but there are now over a thousand more locations in the Twin Cities and beyond that serve Fulton; we now sell more in two weeks than we did in all of that first full year. The journey has been about more than beer. We’ve partnered with countless community organizations, from the Randy Shaver Cancer Foundation to the Minnesota Cycling Center to the Minneapolis Firefighters; we’ve helped change state and city laws; we built the Ful10 Fund to make microloans to small businesses and established Fulton Racing to help burn off some of those beer calories. We even built a hop farm. Perhaps best of all, the number of those we count as friends and family seems to grow every day as more brewers, distributors, retailers, and beer enthusiasts join our community. But as the saying goes, the more things change, the more they stay the same. We still love brewing & building Fulton every day. The days are still long, and we’re still wondering how we’re going to pay for the next order of kegs. And this Tuesday, the 28th, we’ll be tapping Sweet Child of Vine—as well as 2013 Libertine, 2013 Worthy Adversary, Langola Fresh Hop, and Expat aged in Parley Lake red wine barrels—at the Happy Gnome amongst friends & family to celebrate the past five years and look forward to many more. We hope you can join us for one.