The Brau Brothers
A recent foray to Lucan, Minnesota (population: 220) proved to be an edifying and satisfying experience for my wife and me.
For those of you who are "out of the loop" and have never heard of Lucan, this sneeze-and-you'll-miss-it hamlet sits a few miles south of Vesta or a bit west of Wabasso.
A drive down Lucan's main street takes about a minute. Abandoned businesses stare vacantly; a tired grain elevator sags as if it were holding up the soaring blue dome of the prairie sky.
Suddenly, incongruently, there appears the John Deere green canopy of the Brau Haus, which is a very nice pub.
What interested us, though, was a red shed at the outskirts of Lucan. Upon entering the shed, my wife and I met a nice young man named Dustin. When I told him that the place smelled like a brewery he smiled broadly and said, "Thanks!"
Dustin was pleased because we were standing in the production facilities of Brau Brothers Brewery.
Beer is mankind's oldest alcoholic beverage. Egyptian hieroglyphics from 3000 B.C. portrays a group of men making beer. The following panel of hieroglyphics seems to be of these same men consuming beer and acting rowdy. The first known depiction of a "keg stand" can clearly be seen.
In the third panel, the men appear to be ill and are participating in some kind of ritual that forswears all future beer consumption. The final panel is of the men brewing a new batch of beer.
While Germans didn't invent beer, it could certainly be argued that they did much to help perfect it. This bodes well for the Brau brothers, since "brau" is German for "brew."
When I pointed this out to Dale, father of the three Brau brothers, he replied, "Folks have said, With a name like that, what took you so long to get into the beer business?"
Dustin, CEO and head brewmeister, said, "I don't have any formal education in beer-making. I took up home brewing as a hobby and it sort of grew from there."
I can understand how a hobby can get out of hand. But this? You've got some serious-looking equipment here!
"All of it was purchased used," said Dustin. "For instance, our brewing vessels came from a Washington brewpub."
I see that family members get to help out around here.
"This is a family operation," said Dustin. "Dad is the handyman who keeps everything running. My brother Trevor handles the finances, and the youngest brother Brady is our IT specialist. Our kids all pitch in when needed. We tell them that this is how they pay their cell phone bills."
You have a lineup of regular beers and also make small, limited-release batches. How do you decide what kind of beer to produce?
"It's based on whatever happens to interest me. Last fall we made 900 cases of a double nut brown ale which sold out in nine days."
Where do you get your recipes?
"I have a range of sources, including other brewers and the Internet. I'll look over a bunch of recipes, then come up with a variation of my own."