Our story starts on the rugby pitch, where founders Evan Sallee, Niko Tonks, and Matt Hauck first met while playing for rival teams. Once competition turned into friendship, the idea of founding a brewery started simmering while homebrewing together. After the three founders had beers together at Black Star Co-op in Austin, the notion of a cooperatively owned brewery came to life.
Our founders believed the operations of craft breweries were opaque and that there was a gap between being a homebrewer and owning a brewery. The founders’ hope was that the co-op model would not only provide a way for consumers to be more involved in the brewery’s operations, but also bring shared co-op values to the Minnesota craft beer scene. After all, great beer is best paired with great community.
The founders' vision resonated with family, friends, and neighbors—receiving immediate support from local retail partners and nearly 300 members who joined the co-op in 2013 before the taproom even opened.
Fair State Co-op became the first cooperatively-owned brewery in Minnesota, and the third in the country, when the taproom doors opened on September 6, 2014. Membership is currently over 2,000 and growing every day.
In 2017, a 40,000 square foot production facility was added to meet growing demand in distribution, which now includes 16 states and counting. Innovative small batch beers that feature hard-to-source and local ingredients continue to be brewed at the original Northeast brewery.
Fair State became Minnesota’s first unionized microbrewery in 2021, and we continue to be incredibly proud of our staff whose hard work, creativity, diligence, and humor helps create beer and spaces that bring people together.