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Beer brewers seek donations with Kickstarter

Tom Hill, Justin "Bud" Kaney and Tina Hanke, three friends hoping to start a microbrewery in Bemidji, are asking for $5,000 in donations by Jan. 23 so they can start brewing their own craft beer.

Instead of going to a bank or potential investors, the three have initiated a Kickstarter campaign, in which they are asking the public to donate a total of $15,000 at They are hoping this will allow them a more immediate way to make their first batch of beer and sell it on local shelves.

As of midweek, Hanke said $9,696 has been raised.

One of the stipulations of using a Kickstarter campaign is that the entrepreneurs will only be able to receive the public donations when their goal of $15,000 is reached.

As a last effort to raise money, Hill, Kaney, and Hanke will be hosting a beer tasting from 6-10 p.m. Jan. 13 at Keg 'N' Cork.

"If we have to go through banks and personal loans, it would take us much longer to start brewing," Hanke said. "We are hoping to have some beer available for this summer in town."

Hanke said the $15,000 will cover the costs of a 30-gallon kettle used for boiling, fermentation vessels and license fees.

Once the brewers have what they need to start brewing, they hope to work out of a commercial kitchen somewhere in town, the location of which has yet to be decided.

Since Hanke, Kaney and Hill announced their intentions to start brewing beer, Hanke said she has heard positive feedback from the community and other brewers around the state.

"It's been really positive," Hanke said. "It's been exciting to see how many people know about craft beer and want to see it here in Bemidji. We're just trying to get product out there, and then see what the feasibility is of having a microbrewery."

Despite challenges and unknowns of finding the money to start brewing, Hanke said she and her partners are optimistic they will receive the donations they are hoping for.

Hill, originally from Hibbing, works for Northern Brewer in St. Paul and is an alumnus of Bemidji State University.

Kaney, originally from Wittenberg, Wis., works as a project estimator at Northwest Cabinets and is also a BSU alumnus.

Hanke, also originally from Wittenberg, currently works part time for the city of Bemidji.

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