This week, our summer Drinking Apples series introduces us to a group of cider-makers who began their company as part of a project at the University of Minnesota! One of my besties returns to the podcast to preview Minnesota’s biggest beer festival, and hints at her attack plan as the Twin Cities brewery landscape shifts.
Jason Dayton, one half of the team behind Lionheart Cider, explained the University of Minnesota’s Entrepreneurship in Action program (6:08). The professor overseeing the program, rather than have students make a theoretical business on paper, loans groups of students $15,000 to actually begin a business. Dayton says this gives student a much (MUCH) better grasp on entrepreneurship, and successful businesses pay the loans back and help fund the program. The Northern Ale Guide is another business launched through this program, and numerous publications have been started through it as well.
Lionheart Cider presently has two ciders on the market – the original, which can be purchased at liquor stores, and a rhubarb cider on draft across the Twin Cities. The cider is being made in Washington and shipped to Minnesota. Dayton recalled making that partnership, talked about their goals of moving the entire operation to Minnesota, and the challenges facing them now (it’s a familiar one). Dayton looked back on some of the challenges Lionheart faces along the way as they navigated the industry (9:43). He called it a “trial by fire” at the start, but said the lessons learned early have been valuable as the company carved its own path. As Dayton said, “You can’t always just go to someone else. As a small business owner, the buck stops with you at the end of the day.”
Lionheart recently moved their social media under the name Minneapolis Cider Company, so we may be in for some big news soon!
I re-united with Sarah Meyer of Bent Paddle Brewing, also at Tullibee (32:59). Minnesota’s premier beer party is next weekend, All Pints North, in my hometown of Duluth. I have never been to this beer festival and I’m not going again this year, BUT she’s got stories. She wouldn’t tell me which brewery owner she found hitchhiking his way to a party, or which brewery is no longer allowed to rent a house in Minnesota, but she DID tell me who her go-to cab driver is and the wall decor of her hotel room at last year’s All Pints North. Tickets appear to be still available for All Pints North, which goes 3-7 p.m. July 29.
Sarah discussed the changing the strategies down here in the Twin Cities (47:18). She said tap takeovers like the ones you see advertised at your favorite bar don’t hold the weight they used to, and that forces a brewery’s sales team to adapt. She’s got her eyes on the Twin Cities suburbs – many of which have had very little exposure to craft beer – and has a big event coming up with nine other breweries that helps The Sheridan Story. If you want to win a stylish melee weapon, she tell you how!