As one of the larger cities in the state, it was only a matter of time for Rochester’s brewery scene to catch up with the likes of the Twin Cities and Duluth.
Kinney Creek, which opened in 2013, has been the city’s only brewery for over two years. The surprise in 2015 is just how quickly the local scene has changed, with Grand Rounds, Forager, and LTS all entering the market.
As the industry veteran in a changing landscape, how does the increase in locally made craft beer affect Kinney Creek?
The growth is no surprise to company founder Donovan O. Seitz.
“I always expected more breweries,” he said, but the dynamic shift surprised him as well. “I didn’t expect it to take over two years, and then blow up to four within the year.”
That change, though, doesn’t signify that Kinney Creek has to rethink its plans.
“Other breweries obviously make us think about our brand and marketing, but with the different personalities of the brewers I believe it will be very balanced,” Seitz said.
Craft beer remains just a blip on the beer sales radar and, as such, Kinney Creek is reissuing the familiar call to cooperate and celebrate beer diversity, stressing that more options generally means better beer for all.
The increase in Rochester-made beers may even add tourism. Organized tour buses of breweries in the Twin Cities and Duluth are common, and multiple destinations helps to justify the drive for out-of-towners.
“We would get the occasional couple passing through on their way to or from the Cities,” said Mara Albert, Kinney Creek’s marketing and events coordinator, “but now, even just yesterday, I had a couple who drive from St. Paul to try the two open breweries in Rochester.”
Rochester Trolley & Tour Co., which offers monthly tours that hit Southeast Minnesota breweries in Winona, Reads Landing, and Rochester, are also exploring options within the city’s borders, she said.
While Kinney Creek is playing nice and celebrating the increased attention to its industry, the brewery does plan to adjust its marketing. Albert notes that she’s working actively to collaborate with other local businesses on more events, such as “painting and a pint” parties.
In addition, Kinney Creek plans to release its first barrel-aged beers this fall and they’re exploring bottle and can options to extend Kinney Creek’s visibility.
While there is such a things as too much local beer, Kinney Creek doesn’t see a tipping point anytime soon.
“The only breweries that won’t make it,” Albert notes, “are the ones who don’t have good beer. Simple as that.”