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Brewery launches local production

(Dave Wallis / Forum News Service) John Anderson, top, adjusts the speed of a pump as his brother Chris Anderson checks the flow as Fargo Brewing Co. starts local production of its beer Tuesday in Fargo.

FARGO -- It's not quite time to roll out the barrels at Fargo Brewing Co., but it will be soon.

The company started brewing its first batch of beer Tuesday in its new downtown brewery.

Until now, the company has done its brewing via contract through Sand Creek Brewery in Black River Falls, Wis., a relationship that is now ending.

For Chris Anderson, Fargo Brewing president and brewmaster, Tuesday was a special day.

"Very exciting and very nerve wracking at the same time," he said. "There's kind of a lot riding on making sure I do it right."

Anderson said quality control is a simple process.

"I taste the product, from raw ingredients going in all the way through to the finished product," Anderson said. "The best indicator of something wrong is your palate."

He estimated the company's first Fargo-brewed batch of beer, the label's popular Stone's Throw Scottish Ale, will be ready in about three weeks.

The beer will be packaged in kegs and cans; bottles are being discontinued.

"It's kind of the trend in the craft brewing industry now, and there's a good reason for it," Anderson said. "It's better for the beer. Things that destroy beer quality are light, oxygen and temperature.

"I can't necessarily control temperature once it goes out my door, but if it's in a can, I can control light and oxygen."

Anderson and partners Jared Hardy, John Anderson and Aaron Hill are working on setting up a temporary tap room at the brewery, where they will offer on-sale pints of their own making.

Because of a change in state law, they will also soon be able to offer 6-packs, growlers and 5.16-gallon kegs for off sale.

Plans are to open a pub within the brewery that will feature food and drinks, Hill said.

Fargo Brewing's products are sold from western North Dakota to northwest Minnesota.

About 40 bars in the Fargo area carry its beer on tap, while about 30 bars and liquor stores in Fargo, West Fargo and Moorhead, Minn., carry its bottled products.

Chris Anderson said Fargo Brewing plans to focus on the North Dakota and Minnesota markets for the remainder of the year.

Next year, the company is looking to move into the Sioux Falls, S.D., and Duluth, Minn., markets, with their ultimate aim firmly set on the Twin Cities.

But the immediate goal "is to produce absolutely outstanding beer," Anderson said.