This Father’s Day weekend, I attended the Under the Brew Skies Fest in Fargo, North Dakota. Now in its fourth year, this event is the primary fundraiser festival for the North Dakota Brewers Guild and is a celebration of both North Dakota brewers and the brewers in bordering states. More than 60 beers were on offer from just over twenty independent craft breweries in downtown Fargo’s beautiful Island Park.
The North Dakota Craft Brewers Guild (NDBG) was founded in 2013 to promote craft brewing and to protect the interests of the craft brewing community in North Dakota. The state’s pintsized but growing craft beer industry had about 16 breweries in 2018, with total annual production landing 51st in the nation at just over 16k barrels of beer. The breweries in N.D. are picking up steam now, though, with about 25 open breweries. Gorgeous new facilities – like Drekker‘s new location in a historic brick train repair building – have opened, much to the delight and enjoyment of the communities all around the state.
Alongside the fest, the NDBG hosted their annual meeting, held at the almost open new facility for Drumconrath Brewing Co in downtown Fargo. On the agenda was an important discussion of the next steps for the organization in nonprofit development, which includes the consideration of hiring a paid staffer to help direct the guild’s day-to-day operational activity. Four new brewery representatives have stepped onto the board, and lots of exciting progress has been made since my last visit four years ago.This year in Bismarck, the NDBG worked with the state’s tax department and wholesalers on legislation allowing for brewery participation in special events. This legislation expands retail sales and allows for beer transfers for microbrew pub and brewer taproom license holders. Signed by the Governor on April 4, S.B. 2343 will provide for a significant improvement in the functioning of N.D. brewery business operations.
NDBG brewery members are participating in numerous other fundraising events through the year, including the Minot Oktoberfest, the Midwest Travel Network Conference in Medora, and a golf outing hosted by the ND Hospitality Association. N.D. brewers are also being featured at a dinner in Fargo in collaboration with the North Dakota Grain Growers Association for officials from the federal Environmental Protection Agency.Other projects the NDBG is heading up on behalf of its members include coordinating with the neighboring Minnesota Craft Brewers Guild on a collaborative shipping arrangement for festival and competition beers headed to the 2019 Great American Beer Festival.
Thirsty N.D. constituents have much to rejoice in with all the great progress and exciting landscape of N.D. beer, thanks in large part to the successful efforts of the North Dakota Brewers Guild!