When they were kids growing up in Jordan, Jeff Luskey and Kurt Fossen knew their way around the remains of the old brewery there. Today, the longtime friends and now business partners hope to be brewing up success in Blakeley.
The pair has teamed up and will soon be opening a 30-barrel brewhouse, u4ic – aka Euphoric Brewing Inc. – in about 8,000 square feet of leased space within the old creamery building along Scott County Road 1 in Blakeley. And while there is still plenty of work to be done before the two open their taproom for samples and sales of malted beverages, they are excited and ready to get started.
Their business partnership has been fermenting for years. Luskey and Fossen started brewing beer in small quantities on their own since the late-1980s. Their plan is to create 15 varieties of ales – from light summer brews to a dark imperial stout -- that will be available later this summer once they receive the necessary OKs to brew beer and operate a taproom. They also want to offer their beer in bottles and kegs at area liquor stores.
For Fossen, owner of a drywall company, the opportunity to join Luskey is a result of a slow economy. “My business is slow right now,” he said. “I decided to take a chance.”
Luskey works for Tennant Inc., the company that sells floor-cleaning equipment. He’s long eyed the brewing business. Both men will keep their full-time jobs until the brewing business affords them the means to focus solely on brewing beer.
The Right Time
Several years ago, Luskey purchased brewing equipment with the idea of starting a brewery in Sacred Heart, Minn., a small city on Highway 212 west of the Twin Cities. But when his son, Patrick, was born 10 years ago with serious medical needs, operating a brewery was pushed to the back burner.
With the family doing well and able to care for Patrick, they have decided the time has come to follow the dream much closer to home. With all the know-how and most of the equipment the two men need, they’re starting with an effort to raise more capital while waiting for governmental approvals to brew and sell.
They have been working for several weeks to prepare the building for operations. Last weekend, they completed moving equipment from Sacred Heart to Blakeley.
Fossen and Luskey hope to take advantage of a larger population in the area, one that is fond of frosty malted beverages.
But before they can start brewing beer, Fossen and Luskey will start with root beer – Patrick’s Honey Pot Root beer – as a tool to raise the money they need to fund beer brewing. Luskey said the root beer uses his own recipe, one that relies on cane sugar rather than corn sugar or corn syrup. It should be available later this spring or summer.
The proceeds from sales of Patrick’s Honey Pot Root Beer will help fund the brewery. Once U4ic Brewing is established, the profits will go toward a foundation the Luskeys established in Patrick’s name.
They’re also selling T-shirts with the company name and individual serial numbers (plus benefits like a free beer per visit to the taproom and discounts on purchases) on them for $100 as a way to raise money for the brewery.
They’re also willing to accept any volunteer help they can get. If a person is a good worker and needs a job, once U4ic gets rolling, Luskey and Fossen will be drawing employees from those who helped them get started “will have first dibs on a job,” Luskey said. “We want to use local people.”
With a local flair, they plan to use malt from Rahr Malting and bottles from Anchor Glass in Shakopee. They plan to purchase the product they need to brew beer from Brewers Supply Group of Kasota.
U4ic Brewing will also have a Facebook page so people can follow their progress. For more information on their progress, contact Luskey through the page or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org
“We want to be the community’s brewery,” Luskey said.