Our story starts on the rugby pitch, where founders Evan Sallee, Niko Tonks, and Matt Hauck first met while playing for rival teams. The competition turned into friendship and the idea of founding a brewery started simmering while homebrewing together. 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.
The founders' vision resonated with family, friends, and neighbors—receiving support from local retail partners and nearly three hundred members who joined the co-op before the taproom doors even opened.
Member support drives our success.
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, co-op members have helped design beer recipes, pick fresh berries for fruited sours, volunteer countless hours through the Cooperates program, and form meaningful relationships with each other and staff. The cooperative’s 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. Innovative small-batch beers that feature hard-to-source and local ingredients continue to be brewed at the original Northeast brewery.
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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.