I remember my first visit to Anoka. In 2016 my wife and I purchased a Northern Ale Guide. It’s like a trendy coupon book, with buy one get one deals at breweries throughout the state. The best part? If we visited all the locations, we’d get a free t-shirt. I’ve done a lot of things for a free t-shirt. I’ve volunteered for charities, run grueling obstacle races, and even started a t-shirt blog in my quest to fill out the edges of my wardrobe. Though one of the most enjoyable things I’ve done was traveling through Minnesota to get “free” beer and a “free” shirt.
10K Brewing was in that guide. They were my introduction to Anoka. I recall driving across the Rum River at dusk, the lights of the city enticing us. I recall turning onto 2nd Avenue, remarking at the collection of historic brick buildings. I remember parking—yes parking—because there was an actual lot with actual spaces. And of course, I recall entering the 10K taproom, ordering our beers, and settling in to enjoy the guitarist and vocalist that were performing that evening. I’ve been to Anoka five more times. Each was due to 10K. During those visits I’ve eaten at local restaurants, ordered coffee at local cafes, and shopped at local stores. I’ve encouraged others to do the same.
I’ve since learned that Anoka is the “Halloween Capital of the World.” It’s because I did a podcast with 10K’s owner Jesse Hauf where we tasted some seasonal brews. I’ve seen the town’s beautiful Christmas decorations, including the giant tree on the Jackson Street roundabout. It’s because they invited me to the grand opening of the Empire Room, an event space they opened in the same building. I’ve learned about the city’s water quality. It’s because they gave me a tour of the brewhouse and the special equipment installed to ensure the beer is of the highest quality for their patrons.
Imagine my delight when I heard 10K had plans for a brand new facility. A bigger brewhouse, a full kitchen, an expanded offering, a rooftop patio, a top notch sound system, a chance to grow. Imagine my disappointment when I learned the city was proceeding with a purchase agreement for a restaurant chain that already has eight locations. I live in Bloomington. I don’t know what the restaurant is but, based on our access to almost every chain, I imagine there is no reason for me to travel to Anoka for it. Ditto for the city’s 90,000 other residents, not to mention the entire Twin Cities metro area.
Breweries are a gathering place for people of all races, creeds, and cultures. On any given visit you’re likely to see a retired couple, a newborn, a family of four, and a first date—at the same time. There are no bartenders, there are beertenders. It’s not a bar, it’s a taproom. There aren’t other customers, there are other friends. A craft brewery is woven into the fabric of a community more than a chain restaurant ever could be.
None of my comments are surprising given my primary hobby is blogging about craft beer. But beer tourism is real. A study from the Brewer’s Association learned that 10 million people visited a craft brewery in a given year, 5 million of those were out-of-towners, and 18% of all craft drinkers travel to three or more breweries each year. Given that the amount of craft breweries in the United States has since more than doubled—from 4014 to 9247—I guarantee those numbers have grown too. These people share their journey with their friends and family like they never would for a chain.
Nice beer. Nice people. Jesse and I spoke at length about what their tagline means to him and how it translates to his business model. As you may know, he was born in the area and is a current resident of Anoka. He’s passionate about building a sustainable local business with a mission to give back to the community. He’s started a non-profit that supports underfunded K-12 music programs. He’s donated the proceeds of their Empower Sour to Alexandra House, an organization committed to ending domestic and sexual violence. He’s done more than I can list. And he does these things not because he has a corporate mandate to donate. It’s because he cares. He’s invested time, energy, money, sweat, tears—every currency available to a human—into the city of Anoka. It’s time for the city to invest back in him.
Waiting with hope,
Ryan Salsman, Tap Traveler
For more details on the specifics of the situation please visit 10kdta.com.