‘Brew World Order’ in Grand Rapids, Minn.

PHOTO: Martin Pettitt, Flickr CC

How many craft breweries does one small town in Northern Minnesota really need?

Apparently two.

Right now, Grand Rapids, like most towns found along the Mesabi Iron Range, has zero breweries. That is, of course, not counting the legions of people who make hooch tasting of liquid bread and Windex in their basements.

But local brews are the “in” thing, or at least they are in larger cities. So prospective brewmasters now fan into new markets.

That’s how not one, but two sudsy developments found Grand Rapids this year.

As the Grand Rapids Herald-Review reports, Northrock development company seeks to purchase the former Grand Rapids Township Hall along First Avenue. Northrock is putting the deal together for Rapids Brewing Company. This will be a $3 million brewery, restaurant and live music venue. Near the center of town, this will be an impressive location.

The city of Grand Rapids has approved selling the former township hall. The building needs some repairs and renovation, for a reduced price of $100,000.

Meanwhile, another $1.1 million brewery is in the works. Cantankerous Brewing is developing an old storage facility and garage on Southeast 10th Street into a small batch brewery and tap room. The Grand Rapids Economic Development Authority approved a $40,000 loan to help.

Both projects are mostly privately funded and plan to begin construction this year.

Check out Cantankerous Brewing on Facebook. Cantankerous has announced Fall 2017 as their target for opening. Rapids Brewing Company closes the purchase of the Grand Rapids township hall building in April.

By this time next year Grand Rapids will likely have two hip new hangouts, mostly due to private entrepreneurship with help from the public sector.

I say this in anticipation of people in nearby towns saying “why don’t WE get the cool stuff.” Ultimately, someone has to do the market research and stick their neck out to make these things happen. Cities must be ready to help and guide new businesses. It’s a delicate balance of leadership, risk, and ideas.

And while I don’t drink, most of these kind of places serve up a pretty mean root beer on the side. Either way, investment in Northern Minnesota will make our communities stronger.

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