Andover couple Dave and Debbie Torgersen have shared home brews with family and friends to rave reviews the last few years. Ready for their beers to touch a wider set of taste buds, they are making plans to open up a brewery in Spring Lake Park later this year or in early 2018.
“It’s been a roller coaster,” Dave said.
It was his idea to start brewing beer at home back in 2013. He thought it would be fun.
But Debbie quickly became as interested, if not more so, in the hobby.
“I really like the history of the different styles,” Debbie said. Both she and her husband prefer darker beers, but there is a time and place for all types of beer, they agree.
Preparing meals for their son who has a sensitivity to gluten, Debbie became pretty experienced at rewriting bread recipes over the years.
“I had played around with a lot of grains in doing that, so as I started playing around with the grains required in brewing, it was kind of an extension of that,” she said.
Debbie intends to be Torg Brewery’s head brewer, and as a woman, she will be in the minority: Less than 5 percent of breweries have women in charge.
“We need to increase that number,” Debbie said.
When Dave retired from the U.S. Army after a 30-year career in 2015, they had nine or 10 home brews on tap at his retirement party. And they found themselves with more time to brew.
Soon, they decided to open their own brewery.
There have been setbacks, particularly in navigating the new MNvest law, according to Dave.
MNvest, effective as of June 2016, allows for investment crowdfunding. Registration is typically required under federal and state securities laws, but MNvest provides an exception.
Torg Brewery was one of the first three MNvest offerings – the other two are also breweries.
Through MNvest, Torg hopes to find Minnesota investors willing to put up a minimum of $5,000. Such an investment would represent a 0.25 percent ownership stake in the brewery.
The Torgersens are hoping to raise $600,000 total, but once they have secured $150,000, they can move forward, according to Debbie.
“We really like the idea of regular Minnesotans being able to invest in local businesses,” Debbie said. “It builds your customer base, and everybody’s excited to bring their buddy into the brewery that they own a stake in.”
David Laes, who was in the Army with Dave, plans to invest.
It’s nice to see veteran-owned businesses, and he describes the beer as “phenomenal.”
“I’m already planning to make the trip up there,” Laes said.
Gretchen Sabel, who lives across the street from the Torgersens and has raised some hops for them, has also enjoyed sampling some of their brews.
The Squirrel Nutkin, an English brown ale, is her favorite.
“They’re really nice people,” and Sabel thinks the brewery they are planning to open will match their disposition, providing a nice place to relax and unwind.
After research, the Torgersens decided to build their business in Spring Lake Park.
“We wanted to be in this neck of the woods,” Debbie said, noting that currently only three breweries are open in suburbs north of Interstate 694.
“It’s a need up here,” she said. “It would be great for this to be the next area where you have an insurgence of microbreweries popping up – one in every community.”
The Torgersens have their eye on a two-story building south of Northtown Mall off of University Avenue, the old Pacesetter Medical Imaging building.
They envision Torg Brewery as a true “cornerstone of the community,” a place all can come to engage in conversation and relax after a long day, Dave said.
The plan is to have six beers on tap when the brewery first opens and expand to 12 in time.
Four “flagship beers” will be on the menu, as will two “training wheel” selections, designed to ease beer drinkers not accustomed to craft brews into the scene.
“Before traveling, beer to me was just your typical Miller High Life and Budweiser,” Debbie said. “That’s what I knew beer to be, and I wasn’t much of a beer drinker.”
Traveling the world and sampling all varieties of beer opened up her palate, and she wants to provide a similar experience for people here at home.
For more information about the future Torg Brewery, visit www.torgbrewery.com.