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New Mpls. Brewery A Labor Of Love

By Kerry McNally, WCCO-TV

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO ) -- Behind a red door with a handwritten sign, a Minneapolis man is taking his shot at the American Dream. Jason Sowards has turned his simple hobby into a passion that then became a profession.

"Everybody along the way would say, 'My God you're taking such a risk!'" explained Sowards while inside the cold and sparse industrial building he's leased on Minnehaha Avenue. Sowards, a chemical engineer, is the founder of Harriet Brewing.

It was a risk Sowards was willing to take when his hobby of home brewing beer began to win awards and receive raves from the most important of critics.

"I had a really tremendous win at the end of the year and it just gave me the confidence I needed, along with all my peers in the neighborhood saying, 'Gosh what are you doing? You need to be bottling this stuff and selling it,'" Sowards said.

Just over a year ago, that's precisely what he set out to do.

"When I designed this brewery, I wasn't just designing a brewery, I was designing my job for the rest of my life. My dream job," Sowards said.

The equipment was shipped over from Japan, the malt trucked in from Shakopee and the building was right where he wanted it. There was, however, one major problem: a Minneapolis ordinance in Ward Nine would make it impossible for him to do business.

"I realized that they wouldn't let me sell Growlers," Sowards explained. "St. Paul can sell Growlers and micro breweries can sell Growlers and other surrounding metro areas, but just not Minneapolis."

He called his Council Member and three months later, the ordinance was changed. The brewery can now sell 64-ounce refillable bottles, known as "Growlers," in their lobby, which also doubles as an art gallery.

If day one was any indication, the future looks very bright for Harriet Brewing. Sowards gets a little emotional describing the scene a few weeks ago.

"There was a two-and-half-hour wait, line out the door, I felt bad actually, because all these wonderful people had to stand so long in line and they did to wait to get a Growler of our beer, I was just touched by the whole thing," Sowards said.

Harriet Brewing is currently brewing and bottling Dark Abbey, a Belgian-Style Dubbel and West Side, a Belgian Style IPA.

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