Our story starts on the rugby pitch, where founder Evan Sallee, Niko Tonks, and Matt Hauck first met while playing for rival teams. The competition turned into friendship and while homebrewing together the idea of founding a brewery started simmering. Then, the notion of a cooperatively owned brewery came to life when the three founders had beers together at Black Star Co-op in Austin.
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 provide a way for consumers to be more involved in operations while also bringing co-op values to the Minnesota craft beer scene.
Member support drives our success.
The founders' vision resonated with family, friends, and neighbors. Early on we received support from local retail partners and nearly three hundred members joined the co-op before the taproom doors even opened. On September 6, 2014, Fair State Co-op became the first cooperatively-owned brewery in Minnesota, and the third in the country. In the years since we opened, co-op members have helped design beer recipes, picked fresh berries for our annual fruited sour, volunteered countless hours through our Cooperates program, and formed meaningful relationships with each other and our staff.
The cooperative’s membership is currently over 1,500 and growing every day. In 2017, we added a 40,000 square foot production facility to meet growing demand in distribution. At the original Northeast brewery, we continue to brew innovative small-batch beers that feature hard-to-source and local ingredients. Often these limited beers are only available at the taproom or through the cooperative’s bottle subscription program, Journeys + Sidequests.
Fair State was founded to do things differently. We make beer, yes, but we make it to build community.
It takes a lot of hands to live out that vision.
In 2019, our team worked more than 60,000 hours to make almost 3,000,000 beers. Most of that time was brewing, cellaring, testing, packaging, and serving beer, but 25,000 hours of it was the behind-the-scenes work that makes it possible to make and serve that beer: forecasting, procurement, accounting, compliance, payroll, benefits administration, creative production, distributor support, in-market support, digital and social media marketing, event production, and taking care of and managing our team.
We’re incredibly honored that so many of you have chosen to enjoy our beer, and we’re incredibly proud of this group of people who use their creativity, diligence, and humor to make beers and spaces that bring people together.