September 22, 2022

Indeed Brewing (Season 4 Episode 36)

Indeed Brewing Company is celebrating its 10th year of brewing in the Twin Cities. We talk to Tom Whisenand, Co-founder and CEO of Indeed Brewing Company about their recent developments and move into Wisconsin.

Well-known as an engaged and community-oriented brewery, Indeed’s taprooms are warm, welcoming, and home to Indeed We Can, the company’s employee-driven charitable giving program, which donates 100% of taproom net profits to an employee-sponsored local nonprofit every Wednesday of the year. Their diverse offerings are anchored by their flagship Day Tripper Pale Ale, driven by new hits like Flavorwave IPA and Pistachio Cream Ale, and elevated by its series of wild barrel-aged beer.  They are now moving into the THC space as well with beverages infused with THC. Find more to explore at www.indeedbrewing.com

Indeed Brewing Podcast Transcript

Stephanie Hansen 0:03
We are hosting another makers of Minnesota dinner at the Lexington in St. Paul. Not only will you be front and center with some of the best Minnesota makers in the Twin Cities, but you will be treated to a three course dinner compliments of Chef Nick from the Lexington, who will be using the featured makers ingredients in all the courses he’s making for this special event. Our October dinner is Tuesday, October 25. And our featured makers are so fun, including milk and honey ciders, who was making beautiful ciders at their orchard in St. Joseph, three bear oats who specialize in grain bowls full of delicious goodness. Also on Deck is taking stock foods. They’ve got these organic bone bras that taste amazing and are so good for you, as well as olive oil on tap, who has formulations of specialty oils and vinegars that are out of this world. And speaking out of this world is Mrs. Kelly’s tea, Mindy Kelly is truly a savant at blending the most beautiful, flavorful, aromatic teas and she’s been doing it for years in Northeast Minneapolis. I can’t wait for you to meet her. I’m so excited to see how Chef Nick will use all these ingredients in this multi course menu. We’ll have a limited number of tickets for this special dinner and when they’re gone, they’re gone. So go to the lex mn.com and sign up via Eventbrite for the makers of Minnesota dinner. Get your tickets now at the lex mn.com. And watch for details on our November 29 dinner where Chef Nick will be cooking the book, The True North cabin cookbook just in time for the holidays. So go to the lex mn.com to get tickets and sign up for my free newsletter. So you’re always in the know about any events I’m excited about or hosting at Stephanie’s dish.com.

Hello, everybody and welcome to the makers in Minnesota podcast where we’re talking to cool people doing cool things. Today I’m talking to Tom wisdom and and he is the co founder and CEO of indie brewing. And I’m so glad to talk to you because you guys are on the cusp of something really controversial, but also really cool and maybe really fun. With the launch of the THC, hard seltzer that you have to good. You also had a CBD seltzer prior called law that you’re bringing back into production. And we’re getting you this is the end of August and this will air in September. So we’re getting you on the really beginning cost of this new and emerging industry. What does that feel like? Because you guys, kind of we’re on the front end of the beer movement too. So good for you.

Tom Whisenand 2:46
Yeah, I mean, it feels good. You know, in beer and an alcohol, you kind of are very restricted in what you can do. And so for the past 10 years, and we’ve certainly kept ourselves busy, you know, growing indeed, into a relatively large craft brewery and popular Taproom in Minneapolis and then Milwaukee. But I will say over the past 10 years, we’ve had a lot of ideas and those ideas weren’t always possible because we’re involved in alcohol. So the change has happened recently with the legalization of hemp derived THC in Minnesota for use in consumable products is kind of a game changer for us because we get to be involved and participate in it. And it’s something that we’ve always sort of been eyeing honestly, it’s it’s, you know, law was a step towards the idea of of making a THC beverage in the future. And so yeah, it’s it’s kind of, it’s really exciting. We just turned 10 years old, and it feels like we’re returning. It’s not just like another chapter and indeed but maybe it’s like another whole section in the book. So

Stephanie Hansen 3:50
yeah, for sure. And you guys originally started with the LOL product that CBD based and you are bringing that back online. Can you like you have 2% THC in your two good product and the legal line is 5% Apparently, and I know that each city is kind of weighing their options. I’m curious what the difference is between the two drinks and why you felt like you wanted to bring the ball back and then also like what the feeling is can you describe it?

Tom Whisenand 4:25
Sure. Yeah. So you know low is the original beverage we made which is made with just CBD, which was derived from hemp, but doesn’t have you know, at least as much perceived sort of psychoactive impact on you. And then you know two good is two milligrams of THC and also two milligrams of CBD. And that THC is hemp derived but it’s the same THC you would find in like legal cannabis products in other states where you have recreational marijuana. You know, we different consumers want different things. Some people are looking for CBD. CBD does have some, you know, everybody kind of everything, all this stuff impacts people differently. But yesterday I was actually sampling some CBD and, you know, I felt like a euphoric sort of euphoric feeling, kind of just like kind of chilled out, I guess you could say, the THC products, they can, they can make you more that kind of traditional high that you might associate with smoking, marijuana or consuming edibles. You know, two milligrams is not a huge amount of THC. by most standards. Of course, it all depends on the person, if you’ve never consumed, THC might have a bigger impact on you. So you know, two milligrams is where you want to start. It’s, I don’t like to compare THC consumption to alcohol consumption and the effects that it has just because it is so different. But the idea with two milligrams is a lot of people will consume 2468, even 10 milligrams of THC. And there are certain people out there who consume much more than 10 milligrams of THC at a time or in a period of time. So two milligrams is kind of made where you can maybe have 123 And you can kind of experiment and see how it impacts you. You know, as you consume more, so yeah, we will be you know, releasing a product here in the near future as well. That is gonna be a five milligram hot beverage as well.

Stephanie Hansen 6:24
Yeah, it’s such a weird territory because I’m I’m older and and, you know, we smoked pot recreation, recreationally in college, and I wasn’t really a big pot smoker. And my daughter’s group of friends like her she was in the early 20s and the mid 20s. And they just really see THC and cannabis and pot, they see it as no different than drinking a glass of wine, having a beer, they’re very comfortable with the medium, they’re comfortable with gummies. And, you know, my group sees that I think is more like an illicit situation. So it is really interesting to see how these walls are being broken down. And also how, you know, we have such a culture of alcohol, and everyone is, you know, will Rosae all day and it’s like no problem. But then we still treat this other drug that in a lot of instances, my daughter has like just schooled me on the use of marijuana, THC and CBD. And there are research studies that it is a lot less addictive component, it causes less health problems. So while we’re lobbying sort of the use of alcohol, THC get kind of gets to be seen as maybe not as acceptable. It’s a very interesting space that we’re in. I love that you guys are so forefront in this. Is that something you’ve just always been thinking about? And as soon as you could you did?

Tom Whisenand 7:56
Yeah, I think, you know, like you’re talking about that. The stigma has changed a lot in my lifetime, from being younger and experimenting, when it was really, really, really stigmatized and really illegal. And, you know, both you and I think have seen the changes in our adult lives. Really progress and even the language that we use now to talk about, you know, like you mentioned smoking pot, and you know, I have smoked pot before but now today I consume cannabis. It’s yeah. Is your mom’s ditch weed? No, it’s not. And it is amazing to see, you know, that it has gone from just being you know, a plant material and a bag that you would burn and inhale to really all these other just ways of consuming it. And it’s, it’s great, because it has, I think it’s given the consumers a lot more control over what they’re consuming. And the options and it’s helped people explore the various uses for but led to recreational cannabis and has been the medical originally and saying, Hey, this is something that can be good for you. And you mentioned those health effects. So, you know, I personally have always been, you know, someone who has looked at cannabis and thought that it could be a positive thing, much like I look at alcohol and see it as being a positive thing. Doesn’t mean that it can’t be bad, doesn’t mean that, you know, there’s a good reason that we have age restrictions on consumption of things and that there’s, you know, in the case of alcohol, these there’s there’s taxation that leads, a lot of that money goes towards sort of public benefit to try to offset the negative impacts that cause are caused by alcohol. And I think you see the same thing happening in other states with cannabis and I’m sure you’ll see it happen in Minnesota. Yeah, I mean, I, you know, 10 years ago never imagined that would is I would essentially be involved in our company and be involved in producing a THC beverage and actually selling it and then basically becoming a participant in this growing cannabis industry in the country and now the state of Minnesota That being said, it’s a natural fit for for myself just because of my interest in it over the years and in our company and just the culture of our company. I mean, we, if you look at Indeed, and you look at the brands that we create the experience that we have the tap room, you know, we have a little bit of a psychedelic bent, we have a little bit of a counterculture, that we kind of attract people who feel comfortable in that space. It doesn’t mean we didn’t have conversations as We waded into THC like, hey, like, you know, if you are uncomfortable with this, if you don’t want to work on this, you know, we want to have a chat with you, we want to make sure that we’re not ramming this into a company, because we are a company of nearly 80 employees. And so we have very diverse, you know, set of people and viewpoints and experiences and everything, and not everybody at our company, consumes cannabis. So, so far, it’s been a really fun fit. And I think the other kind of piece of that is the, you know, we aren’t a brewery, we aren’t a business without people who consume our products. And I feel like it’s just a natural fit for a good chunk of the people who are fans of indeed, and what we do on the beer side. And we’ve seen that sort of growing and changing tastes of consumers, people are drinking less, younger people are drinking less, they’re interested in other things. Some of those things may have like a psychoactive impact, like THC does, or alcohol. And so they’re just kind of looking for different ways. So we’re excited to have this available, you know, in our in our, in our brewery for people who are looking for something besides alcohol as well,

Stephanie Hansen 11:29
I It’s kind of crazy to I hope, you know, Minnesota, sort of the land of the Puritans, I really hope that they decided to just legalize because then at least the government can get some benefit in terms of providing alternative resources if people need them, and just making an even fair playing field and having some regulation. It’s just crazy that we’re still acting like, you know, this isn’t being sold everywhere, but on to other subjects. It’s hard to it’s hard to talk to you without thinking about Chuck, you know, he is an artist that I know from some of the festivals that I’ve worked on, and he’s designed a lot of the labels on your cans, as he designed, he hasn’t designed all of them.

Tom Whisenand 12:13
Yeah, so we basically with Chuck, we work with Chuck, since we started 10 years ago, he’s been an amazing partner for us. He whenever we’re doing a brand new brand, that’s going to kind of be a mainstay be something that happens all the time, we have him design the artwork for it and collaborate with our in house designer Andy coffer. And then Andy kind of takes that art and adapts it to a can and fits it into labeling along with all of the regulatory labeling requirements that we have, and all those things and and then we do do some, you know, for things that are not necessarily going to be done over a long period of time, or maybe something we’re just starting out will do student house label without chuck, chuck is an amazing and very successful artist, that we’ve been just really lucky to work with over the years. And so we try to deploy him only on the things that are going to be a little bit bigger things for us. Right. But yeah, it’s I think he’s a huge part of the indeed brand. And it’s impossible to imagine indeed, without him, I mean, he’s helped us create, you know, our whole identity. And a brand identity says, you know, it’s it’s everything really, it’s it’s really the first way people are usually interact with you is when they see you. And the the seeing you oftentimes leads to them, then trying your actual product and trying the the taste. So for the very beginning of indeed, we just believed we had to have kind of all of the key components done in a really, really excellent way. So you know, you couldn’t you could have the greatest liquid in the world inside of a can but if the label was terrible, it sort of ruins the experience, and vice versa. And then also just running a business that you know, in a company that is a good company and does good things in the community and is engaged with that part of it because people care about who makes their beer and what they do and what the purpose of that business really is. So I feel like over the years we’ve you know, really tried to succeed on all those fronts and something we continue to do and it’s you know, kind of back to the the cannabis thing as well THC. It’s we’re trying to do the same way with that as well, where we’re just not rushing in and creating you know, just something random and throwing it out there. It’s something literally been working on for years and have only been able to launch like a beverage like that successfully and THC or in beers by the diligent work that we’ve sort of built up over time to be able to do it.

Stephanie Hansen 14:29
Are you surprised at the success level that you’ve had with the pistachio Cream Ale? And also a little bit of the honey lager?

Tom Whisenand 14:40
Yeah, honestly, astonished.

Stephanie Hansen 14:43
It’s everywhere. The pistachio ice cream ale. It’s crazy like, and I really like it, but I can’t believe the amount of like random bars that are carrying it.

Tom Whisenand 14:52
Yeah. Yeah. You know, it’s funny because you mentioned both pistachio Cream Ale and then Mexican honey and yeah, I would say both. those beers are beers that like, it’s not that they didn’t take a lot of effort to create, but they sort of just happened on their own. They weren’t something that came out of like, a big, we have big planning meetings, you know, we have big brand calendar planning meetings quarterly and look to where like, right now we’re talking about 2024. But those are just beers that just sort of like happened in this like, hey, what if we did this? And gosh, that’d be pretty, you know, relatively straightforward for us to do. We think we know how to do that. Let’s give it a shot. You know, in the case of Mexican honey, that was back in the early days of indeed, when it was very few people working there and which kind of in some ways made doing new things very easy. We just be like, well, let’s just do it. And that’s how that beer happened. And, and then it just grew from there. And then and pistachio Cream Ale is kind of a different example of that, where we actually, you know, we had the idea, but we had recently opened up our, our pilot brewery and Taproom in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. And we’re like, well, let’s go brew down there. It’s a small facility and we were able to kind of test it out there and people liked it down there. And then we were able to brew it up in Minneapolis, and then it just, you know, just exploded and yeah, you see it a lot of places. You know, people like cream mills in the upper Midwest. You know, New Glarus, spotted cow is a great example of that. It’s a cream mill. Castle danger has a successful cream male. And so I think it was just kind of a natural momentum thing for people. They’re like, Oh, I know what that is. And I think I like it. And what I really liked about pistachio cream ales, it’s, it seems like, there’s a huge wide audience of people that like it. People who maybe, you know, aren’t necessarily the biggest craft beer drinkers in the world, but they do like craft beer, and they’re curious about it brings a lot of those books in brings a lot of people in who just don’t like hoppy beers. It’s a fun beer. You know, we’ve never tried to take ourselves too seriously indeed. So having a beer with like a bunch of weird psychedelic pistachio guys on it. It’s just sort of awesome and funny, and Yeah, gotta kick it in. And usually, if people ask, you know, they’re like, Well, how do you make it? I’m like, Oh, we have to get everybody together in the company to crack all the pistachio nuts. It takes days, days and days and days, you know, it’s awful. Our fingers are sore. And sometimes people believe that I just laugh and

Stephanie Hansen 17:14
it was pretty funny. You’re a big, my husband’s a big fan of all of your beers. And one of the things that I think I had in the tap room was super long time ago. But I’m like, I think this year, the company that will be the one I think that could be really successful. Why isn’t there like more jalapeno beers in cans?

Tom Whisenand 17:38
Yeah, why are there more jalapeno and pepper beers out there? Yes. It’s one of those things. I think we did. You know, that’s funny. The one you’re talking about was a long time ago. And I think that was probably daytripper. And that was probably me that made that back then. Because I had a garden in my backyard. But I was spending so much time at the brewery. I remember going home one day, and it was the whole garden was covered in tall weeds and that I looked underneath all the weeds and there were all these peppers in there that I had grown and so I picked them up and put them into beer and it was pretty good. And originally I was good. I was inspired to make that by Vickers brewhouse up in Duluth that always made a pepper beer for a long time. And it was really good. And I think they still do. You don’t see him much. They’re kind of difficult to make. Handling watch peppers in a brewery is not very much fun. And people get out of their fingers and get in their eyes and then their eyes are burning and and it’s just one of the things that people love to try and will drink in a tap room. But if you made a six pack of pepper beer and put it in the store, it would fail miserably guarantee. Oh,

Stephanie Hansen 18:38
darn it. I did I had a I had one that if you get a chance to try it, it’s being made in a small brewery in Minnesota. It’s called vengeance. It’s a jalapeno cream nail. Jack Pine. If you get a chance order it because I had some the other day and I was like, it reminds me whenever I have a pepper beer, I think of that beer that I had at your tap room. Because I loved it so much.

Tom Whisenand 19:01
You know ingredients. So you never know what people do right now. You see people experimenting with like mushrooms and beers. And yeah, if someone would have known but it just it’s you never know, maybe peppers are the next thing.

Stephanie Hansen 19:12
We interviewed Brad Glynn at from lift bridge at the state fair. And we were talking about what’s the next thing in beer and he asked us Stephanie March, my radio partner and I and we both said, savory. There’s been so much with the fruit forward and the Hayes’s and just this real juicy factor. And we were both like, you know, how about a sage beer? How about a lemon thyme, something? Just something more on the savory side?

Tom Whisenand 19:40
Yeah, we made a sage beer Long, long ago, maybe two years ago was called SAGE coach. It was but it was fun. It was very sad. Yeah, Thanksgiving. Yeah, exactly.

Stephanie Hansen 19:54
When you are in your day to day, you know during the George flow way the situation, your tap room was able to expand during COVID. You were able to expand into the outdoors. And you’ve kind of kept up that that area outside. Is your Minneapolis tap room. I mean, it’s pretty small. And is your Milwaukee tap room a lot larger? And how is your reception in Milwaukee? Ben has to be kind of intimidating to be in such a beer town.

Tom Whisenand 20:22
Yeah. I mean, yeah, you know, indeed, is evolved and adapted a lot over the years. No more so than in the last, you know, two to three years with everything that’s happened in the world and happen in Minneapolis. You and so yeah, we’ve we’ve been really fortunate to have, you know, really just an awesome group people working at indeed that are creative, hardworking and ready to pivot. Which is, especially when you talk about our tap rooms, both in Minneapolis and Milwaukee. There’s an enormous amount of pivoting over the last few years and changes. And some of that was driven by our own decisions, like opening up a Milwaukee taproom, which we opened up in late 2019. But a lot of it was driven by other events that were pretty much completely out of our control. And so we’ve been really lucky to have all that. And we’ve really been enjoying the last year or so here where it feels like there hasn’t been a lot of pivoting that hasn’t been a result of us all getting in a room and saying, Yeah, let’s do this. Let’s go for it. Yeah. And really nice, because it’s really exhausting to have to constantly change things. When you don’t really want to, you know, the tap room in Milwaukee opened late 2018. It is bigger than the the primary Minneapolis tap room, it’s a little bit different in sort of setup doesn’t have like much outdoor space. It’s like a nice cozy interior beer hall, it’s very nice. You know, we had a little bit more of a budget to kind of make that place nights from the start were in Minneapolis, we literally moved into an abandoned building and made it work 10 years ago. And so it’s a little bigger in size. But you know, Minneapolis probably has more seating ability, just because we have the multiple spaces now. And outdoor space, like you mentioned, which we’ve kind of just taken a parking lot and turn it into a patio, which sort of spun out of COVID being able to expand outside, which has been a nice addition. So yeah, we’re you know, we’re really happy overall, the kind of where we’ve come with our Taproom spaces. And, you know, right now we’re actually in progress, though, in Minneapolis of planning, you know, a move of our tap room to a warehouse that we bought nearby, just a block away. So we, we own a parking lot in Minneapolis, kind of near the brewery. And just on the other side of that we have a warehouse now. And we’re we’re developing plans to build a new construction Taproom on that site. And it’s it’s for lots and lots of reasons. One of them is that, like you mentioned, we have pretty much one of the smallest tap rooms in the state. Actually, it is very small, when you look at the kind of the core part of it. And we’ve sort of had to add pieces on. But we’re really excited to develop and build something that is is going to capture everything that we already do really well and the spirit of indeed, but do it in a way that can really give our customers even a better experience.

Stephanie Hansen 23:05
That’s fine. I’ve been to that warehouse. I think you there was like a bike race that kind of ended up there. And you had outdoor event. Yeah,

Tom Whisenand 23:12
yep. Sounds right. So right now we’re doing warehousing over there. And we plan to build like a two storey Taproom facility there with rooftop and everything. It should be pretty cool.

Stephanie Hansen 23:21
That is cool. When do you anticipate that opening? Gonna be a few years still?

Tom Whisenand 23:25
Yeah. But hopefully, hopefully construction costs will come down a little bit too in that timeframe. Yeah,

Stephanie Hansen 23:30
it is. It is actually lumber is a little bit less I’m hearing and so good planning on your part. What was really nice to actually chat with you. I’m a big fan of the beer and I will try the the THC infused seltzer when I get a chance. I’m going to do it with my daughter because she’s like you can’t do without me, mom. She’s like you need you need someone to be there with you. I’m like, fine, fine. But I’m looking forward to it. And I’m glad that you guys are in the space. I think if anybody can do it responsibly and fun and make a living at it. Why shouldn’t the Minnesota makers, you know, awesome. Yeah.

Tom Whisenand 24:07
Thank you. Yeah.

Stephanie Hansen 24:09
It was great to talk with you. And we’ll release the podcast in September, um, a few weeks ahead. So I’ll give you a heads up before we release.

Tom Whisenand 24:16
Great. Thanks a lot. Okay. Thanks, Tom. All right. Before you go, I gotta ask though. Where are you?

Stephanie Hansen 24:22
Oh, you know, I’m in Ely, Minnesota. Okay. I just launched a cookbook and I have a bunch of events. And my husband and I are preparing our van. We bought a Winnebago Paseo during the

Tom Whisenand 24:35
Coronavirus, cool. I saw the seven and a half minute topo map. I thought he might be somewhere cool. And he’s great. So yeah,

Stephanie Hansen 24:41
absolutely. That’s funny. All right. Well, we’ll talk soon then.

Tom Whisenand 24:45
Alright. Thanks, guys. We’ll see you. Thanks. Bye.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai