5 Questions with Brewer Keigan Knee
The Modist Brewing Co. team, from left: Eric Paredes, Keigan Knee, Kale Anderson, and John Donnelly, photo by Danica Donnelly
Experimentation and ingenuity are what Keigan Knee and his team plan to bring to the ever-growing Minneapolis brewing scene this winter when they open Modist Brewing Co. The brewer, who earned his stripes at Harriet Brewing and Dangerous Man Brewing Company, talks about why a dream for defiance sets the brewery apart from other start-up ventures in the Twin Cities—and why everyone should start counting down the days until it opens.
1. How will Modist be different from other new breweries in the Twin Cities?
We have a unique philosophy towards brewing that is best summarized in our company vision: Our aim is to modify beer and how it is perceived by defying rules and expectations, refusing to bend to pre-conceived notions, and by embracing creativity and unconstrained experimentation. This philosophy has influenced our branding, our equipment choices, and our recipes. We won’t be brewing to a particular style, but rather working to create unique beer-drinking experiences. We hope to introduce beer drinkers in the Twin Cities to new beers full of flavor and balance.
2. What are you and your team most excited about?
Modist is the collective expression of the dreams and personalities of four people…We essentially gave ourselves permission to push the boundaries and be different—not for the sake of being different, but to authentically reflect our personalities and interests. We are not locked into a particular style of beer or tone of voice. We can do whatever we think is right for the sake of creating unique beer drinking experiences. That’s what we’re all most excited about.
3. Northeast is better known for its brewing culture—why open up in the North Loop?
We set out to look for a space that would give us the space to create a unique taproom experience, express ourselves creatively, and grow into future years. While we all love northeast Minneapolis and admire the fact that it’s become the brewing heart of the Cities, we wanted to find a part of town with a less developed brewing scene. The North Loop was among the top three areas we explored, and serendipity brought us to 505 N. 3rd St on a random drive about town one day. The space is perfect— an immaculately maintained warehouse-style building with solid family ties, plenty of space inside, and essentially a blank canvas for us to craft the perfect taproom and brewhouse.
4. How has your past career experience influenced your decision to open a brewery of your own?
My dream to one day start my own brewery began long before I joined Dangerous Man. In fact, the seeds were planted when I started volunteering at Harriet Brewing five years ago. It was there that I realized this was what I was meant to do. I got the opportunity to learn to brew on a large scale there and continued to hone my skills as an avid home brewer. But the highlight of my career thus far was when I joined the Dangerous Man team. Rob [Miller, head brewer at Dangerous Man] and I teamed up, giving me the ability to teach, experiment and grow. My experiences at Dangerous Man have taught me the importance of creating an environment steeped in trust and one that embraces diversity and opportunity. I hope to bring these lessons to Modist to create a similar culture there.
5. How have you and your team worked together to ensure everything goes according to plan with the brewery's development throughout the past few months?
Modist had been in the planning phase for over two years. The four of us came together then and dedicated countless hours to building a meticulously detailed business plan. We spent many a Sunday locked up in a room for hours talking about this. We leveraged each other’s experiences to shape the plan: my brewing background, Kale and John’s experience in brewery operations, John’s experience in retail, and Eric’s experience in marketing and general business management. We defined who we wanted to be first and the rest fell into place after that. Right now, we are simply executing on a plan we feel is perfectly laid out.