Though Utepils might be difficult to pronounce, the new Minneapolis brewery is still making a name for itself.
Utepils (OOH-ta-pils) is the Norwegian word for “the first beer enjoyed outdoors in the sunshine after a long, dark winter.” Ute means “outside;” pils means “beer.”
As you enter Utepils’ taproom, you must first pass through an impressive gauntlet of stainless steel brewing equipment. The pseudo tunnel opens into a luxurious taproom filled with natural light.
I ordered the full flight of beers (only three at the time, as the brewery had just opened its doors). My favorite, however, was Ewald The Golden, a Bavarian-style Hefeweizen (ABV 5.2%, IBU 14). True to its name, this Hefe was a light, summery gold, and packed with well-balanced flavor.
If you’re like me, you’ll walk into Utepils and have no idea why the beer in this stunning taproom is so great. If you’re not like me, you might know ahead of time that the place is packed with beer A-listers (think: brewers from Summit and New Glarus, founder from Vine Park and Craft Brewers Guild, custom-built 50bbl system straight from Bavaria).
As a friendly guy bussed our empty beer glasses, he commented on my camera and the photo lessons I was providing my drinking buddy. When I asked if he’s in charge around the taproom, he humbly told me, “Well, I like to think I am, but we all know that isn’t true.” Turns out he’s the founder, Dan Justesen, and kind of a big deal in the beer world *facepalm*.
Like most big deals in the beer world, Dan was completely gracious with my beer faux pas and even offered me a piece of advice. He told me, “Good brewing makes good living.” This phrase also happens to be Utepils’ motto “because it’s true,” says Justesen. “When you do good, good things come of it. When you brew good beer, people want to come in and buy it, so the staff gets paid well. And maybe one day the owner actually makes some money!” he laughs.
While Utepils’ motto is honest and accurate for the beer industry, I think it can speak more to the staff’s values than to their business goals. Good brewing and good living aren’t focused solely on making good money. In fact, for many beer people, the money isn’t always a major factor.
Beer is a labor of love; it’s relationships formed at the bar; it’s hard work and good laughs. Beer isn’t just about good ingredients and skillful brewing (though those are important), it’s also about the people with whom you enjoy it, and the times it brings you together. That’s good living.