When Lift Bridge Brewing’s co-founders Dan Schwarz and Brad Glynn decided to make their entrepreneurial dream a reality, their goal was to brew unique Minnesota and Wisconsin beers sourced with local ingredients and supported by one simple mission: To elevate life’s moments with the perfect pairing. From Honeycrisp Apple Pie Beer to the award-winning Farm Girl Golden Ale, Lift Bridge Brewery continues to innovate and develop unique flavor profiles for its comprehensive lines of beer, hard soda, and soft drinks. The company operates from two locations in Stillwater, MN and New Richmond, WI and brews over 20,000 barrels of beer each year.
A pillar of the local community, Lift Bridge Brewing Co. employs over 30 people and is host to many fun events like Dogtoberfest, Townie Tuesdays, the annual Drag Brunch, crafting sessions, pumpkin carving, and so much more. Lift Bridge Brewery also brings in local food trucks so everyone has both plenty of beer to drink AND delicious food to eat!
We recently had an opportunity to sit down with Co-Founder and VP Marketing, Brad Glynn to learn more.
How did you and co-founder Dan Schwarz meet?
We both moved to Stillwater around the same time and were in a poker league together! So we met by staying out all night in various garages and basements around Stillwater. I was an avid homebrewer and Dan, having started many businesses, brought the entrepreneurial spirit and skill-set we needed at the time. As we talked about our mutual desire to start a company together, the conversation escalated to the idea of starting a craft brewery in Stillwater. Our discussions started in the early 2000s. We planned the actual concept in 2005/2006,and officially incorporated it in September 2008. It was a journey.
How did you meet Avisen Legal’s Todd Taylor?
Dan and Todd have friends and business associates in common. We were looking for a lawyer who was plain speaking, honest, and engaging; someone who simplified complex legal issues, not one whose first language was “legalease.” We wanted a lawyer who would enjoy sitting with us and having a beer! Finding like-minded partners was really paramount, and Todd fit the bill to a “T.”
How has Todd Taylor’s experience as an entrepreneurial lawyer helped you?
Over the past few years, Todd has been our key advisor on some really important growth strategies. It’s important to us to have someone looking out for our needs and someone who understands the complexities of the beer brewing industry. In fact, beer is one of the most highly regulated industries in the US.
Brewing, distributing and selling beer in our taprooms requires us to meet stringent compliance requirements and abide by strict regulations. The risk of having to pay fines and fees for doing something wrong would be extremely detrimental to our business – and to the reputation we have worked so hard to build in the community. Todd also helped us through the difficult process of acquiring shares from minority partners so that today, Dan and I are the sole owners of LIft Bridge Brewing Co. Todd has always helped us smoothly progress from point A to point B and successfully get to the other side.
What were the biggest challenges when you started Lift Bridge Brewery?
Starting any business takes grit, determination and commitment. Our sole focus was to understand the rules, regulations, and compliance requirements we had to adopt to successfully enter the market as a craft brewery. Before prohibition, there were three craft breweries in Stillwater, at the time an economic hub for the lumber business. Lift Bridge Brewing Co. is the first microbrewery in Stillwater since prohibition!
As with any business, attracting and retaining employees is key. We also needed to understand the market by continuing to evolve our customer service by listening to what our customers wanted and doing our best to deliver innovative new beverages.
Overall, the residents of Stillwater were really thrilled when we opened. Stillwater is such a charming town with a lot of artisans, boutiques, restaurants, and antique shops – it really is a beautiful community and we are honored to be part of it. Right around 2008 the craft brewing industry was just getting started. We were the 12th microbrewery in the state. There are now over 160 in Minnesota. Lift Bridge Brewery is currently the 6th largest brewery in the state.
What advice do you have for other budding entrepreneurs?
First, you have to understand the market, find out what people need, and fill that need. Throughout the journey, don’t sacrifice your vision. Stay true to yourself. Early on create a mission statement and let it guide and govern all of your decisions. Most importantly, stay focused on achieving your goals.
Proud to be a Beer Drinker: More Background on Lift Bridge Brewing Co.
Since 2008, Lift Bridge Brewing Co. has created quality craft beers that supply adults with what they need to slow down and enjoy life. Through every can, bottle or tap pull, Lift Bridge wants drinkers to taste the history of Stillwater, the pride and fun the company has in its creation and the uncompromising natural ingredients used during the brewing process. In 2015, Lift Bridge Brewing Company began crafting sodas under Lift Bridge Soda Co.; the brewery launched their hard seltzer line in 2019, and in May 2021, expanded into a second taproom and production facility in New Richmond, WI.