Bang Brewing finds opportunity in tough times

By Sandy Boss Febbo

Editor’s note: In 2013, Bang Brewing opened at 2320 Capp Road as St. Anthony Park’s first craft brewery. Owned and operated by the husband and wife team of Jay and Sandy Boss Febbo, Bang Brewing features all-organic beers and a sustainability ethic. The business reflects their values, building community along the way. Here, Sandy gives an update on their business.

“Biggest impact, smallest footprint.” These words lead each of our business decisions. It’s become our motto.

From the start, Jay and I have worked all aspects of our brewery operations—without investors and without employees—in our first two years. Only when you know what you do, can you do what you want. This led to three more mottos: “This is crazy,” “No sudden moves,” and, “Don’t *@%# it up.”

“The Bin,” what we call our custom-built grain bin, serves as our brewery and taproom. This highly efficient building— along with our all-organic beers, returnable 750 ml bottles and our native prairie and rain gardens— quietly show our commitment to environmental responsibility.

We operate with a quadruple bottom line: people, planet, purpose, profit. Intentionally small. We have an opinion. We believe change happens by individual actions. Our scale and approach are about brewing awesome beer with the best ingredients in a space that allows us to share how we think it can be done. Better. With less.

And every day is a reminder that we make our living one beer at a time. Our growth has been steady, our customers have become friends and our employees are now family (thank god for Matt). Our first seven years led to inspiring partnerships and multiple awards. We’re awed by the opportunities that have resulted.

Rolling with the punches

2020 began as our busiest year to date, with plans underway for the adjacent parcel of land we’d recently purchased.

And then the pandemic hit.

We closed our taproom even before the state required, and furloughing our staff was gut-wrenching. With our taproom doors closed, we searched for the proverbial open window. Found a few!

• We shifted our focus from taproom to bottling. We invested in a more efficient system to manage our returnables, which has set us up to increase production and distribution. Every bottle that comes back to us is a connection: We’re in this together.

• We have new organic farm partners. In Minnesota. Plural! We brewed a beer to celebrate. SUDS, a cream ale, features organic grains from Doubting Thomas Farms, malted by Minnesota’s own Vertical Malt (which just completed their organic certification) and is the first in our Perennial Percent series in which each batch includes Kernza®, a new grain.

• Sourcing organic ingredients has been our biggest challenge but most rewarding success. The relationships we’ve established with small farmers, and our overtures to larger producers and brokers, have given us access to a wider range of ingredients every year. It’s become clear that our regional systems are fragmented, and we’ve long recognized this as an opportunity to build a more connected, accessible and equitable approach.

• We’ve partnered with the University of Minnesota to launch the Organic Brewers Alliance. We are aggregating a nationwide database of producers of organic, regenerative and sustainably farmed ingredients that will become a tool connecting farmers, mid-producers and brewers. Next steps: Map it out, identify clusters, shape cooperative purchasing opportunities and nurture its growth.

• That adjacent parcel? Slowly working on it. Step one, we removed some asphalt and extended our rain gardens to sink more stormwater runoff and allow for more beer garden space. Step two, we’ll continue to stare at the existing pole barn and think about what we might do with it.

We’re grateful to be where we are; this moment is important and it feels good to be moving forward. We’ll keep working on these projects while brewing and bottling our hearts out. Our taproom will remain closed through this pandemic.

For everything 2020 dealt, and exposed, we found exciting opportunities and necessary responsibilities.

Thanks to all for your continued support via our retail partners and curbside hours— it’s keeping us in motion and fueling these plans, one bottle at a time.

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