Interbrew: Keeping it in the Family with Dustin Brau of Brau Bros Brewing

The craft beer movement emphasizes the idea of local production. No brewery exemplifies this idea better than Brau Brothers Brewing in Lucan, Minnesota. Specializing in regional beers with bold and far-reaching flavors, Brau Bros makes sure everyone in Southwest Minnesota has a great pint of beer to go along with the better things in life. CEO Dustin Brau took the time to answer some questions about the brewery  and how they’re growing. Check it out after the jump.

What is your role at Brau Brothers Brewing Co.?

As CEO, I head operations including day to day business. More importantly, as Head Brewer, I get my hands dirty with everything from recipe formulation to brew house operations. Because we’re such a small company, we are often wearing many hats.

How did you get started brewing beer? Is it a family tradition?

Homebrewing, with an eye to own a brewpub. Mary and I both graduated with Hotel and Restaurant Degrees, and we saw our future in the restaurant industry. Luckily, we couldn’t brew enough beer at the brewpub, and we chose to expand to a distributing brewery.

Brau Brothers is truly a family affair. How did you and your brothers decide to take the plunge and start a brewery?

When we decided to expand the brewery outside the brewpub’s walls, we brought Brady and Trevor onboard. They both bring unique skill sets that have been invaluable.

Anything to say to all the people who think you shouldn’t mix family with business?

They’re probably right. It can be difficult, yet extremely rewarding to work with family. Fortunately, my brothers are extremely easy to work with and most importantly, they’re very intelligent people.

How did you choose a small town like Lucan, Minnesota with a population of 200 to set up your brewery?

When we made the change from brewpub to brewery, we never even considered going elsewhere. Our location in terms of its rural nature helps define the brewery and makes it unique.

I hear you grow your own hops and barley on your land?

Correct, we have the largest hopyard in the state, with ten different varieties currently being grown. They popped out of the ground about a week ago. We also grow some of the only two row malting barley grown in MN, only feet from the brewery’s front door.

How much beer can you make with each year’s harvest?

Not much. Last year our entire harvest was used to make our fall seasonal, Hundred Yard Dash.

How much beer overall are you producing every year?

We’re brewing on pace to do about 2,500bbls right now, however we’d like to max out our fermenter’s capacity this summer, which will be somewhere around 4,000 bbls.

What has been the toughest challenge in starting this brewery?

Knowing how and when to grow. Scaling a small brewery can be a challenge, particularly when space is an issue.  Also knowing when to bring on more help. We’ve been extremely behind the last year and a half, and probably should have hired more brewers earlier.

Any interesting new recipes your working on that you could tell us about?

A very traditional Belgian Saison is set to release in early May. Forgotten Flem, Farmhouse Ale will be our first bottle conditioned beer, and we’re very excited about it. We brewed it in an ultra-traditional manner, with quite a bit of wheat and rye, and a blistering 95 degree fermentation!

What is it about beer that means so much to us as a society?

It’s such a social beverage. I love beer, but it’s people I’m drinking it with, and the places that I imbibe that create the experience. We’re so fortunate to be living at a time where there is so much great beer to enjoy.

What are your other passions in life? Do they influence your brewing? 

Spending time with my family and kids fills most of my free time. Because it’s a family brewery, I’m lucky to be around them often. I also like to golf and watch movies, and (surprise) they are good opportunities to have a pint!

Favorite beer and food pairing?

Sausage and beer. The great thing about sausage is the fact that it does well with just about any beer. Hoppy, smokey, or even a clean lager. We keep a small smoker in the brewery and when we get time, we stuff and smoke our own sausages.

Favorite book?

I spent my high school and college years reading anything Tom Clancy wrote.

Any “go-to” brewing music?

We fight over the radio at the brewery. When I get my way, I usually listen to Green Day or Nirvana; I’m partial to 90’s grunge.

Learn more about Brau Brothers on their website.

Still curious? Follow us on Twitter (@midwestbeer), Facebook or send an email to mwbeercollective@gmail.com.

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