Biz Buzz: Introducing the Better Beer Society

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December 19, 2011
By: Jeremy Zoss
Jeremy Zoss
In a sign of its increasing vibrancy, the local craft beer scene has its first support agency. Northeast resident Rob Shellman has launched the Better Beer Society, an agency designed to promote craft beer at all three levels: brewers, distributors and retailers.

“I realized that Minneapolis was really on the cusp of becoming the next great beer city,” said Shellman. “The time is right for an agency to represent smaller breweries who need a voice.”

Shellman is a certified Cicerone, the beer world’s equivalent of a Sommelier. A major focus of the Better Beer Society will be educating staffers at beer bars on the intricacies of beer, such as appropriate beer pairs, alternative suggestions and even working with chefs to develop beer and food pairings. The Better Beer Society will offer certifications of bars and restaurants at three levels: BBS Certified, BSS Silver and BBS Gold.

“It’s all based on a points system, mostly about staff knowledge,” said Shellman. “At the BBS Silver level, glassware is matched to its appropriate style. At the Silver and Gold levels, it’s going to be a lot about the beer and food pairings.”

The Better Beer Society will also work with distributors to expand their portfolios of craft beers and will work with small craft brewers to promote their beers. “For startup breweries, there really isn’t time or money to be spent to hired a salaried marketing rep,” said Shellman.

The overall goal of the Better Beer Society, said Shellman, is to give craft beer the respect that it deserves. While he’d like to ultimately expand the Better Beer Society nationally, right now he’s content to keep things local. “There’s a great scene happening right now here in Minneapolis,” he said. “We’re happy to be a part of it.”

Kettlebell Café shakes up your workout

When John Grinde started taking classes in the Russian kettlebell fitness program from trainer Dawn Wittenberg, he wasn’t thinking that they would one day become business partners. He simply loved the workout the classes offered and discovered that he wasn’t getting the same effect from his workouts at home.

“I couldn’t get the workout out of a class that I got in a class,” said Grinde. “So I got the workouts from Dawn and printed them out at home. I had them posted all over the walls. But obviously I couldn’t take them with me.” So he shrunk down the workout instructions, laminated them and started bringing them to the gym.

“People started asking me where I got them,” said Grinde. And Minneapolis-based Kettlebell Café was born.

Kettlebell Café sells four sets of workout cards, with each set increasing in intensity. Each card has instructions for a different routine. By grabbing a card randomly from one of the sets, kettlebell users add variety to their workouts, which prevents boredom and avoidance of difficult techniques. The workouts in the level four cards are all named after neighborhoods in Minneapolis.

Grinde says he started Kettlebell Café because he wants people to get fit. He stresses that the company’s workout cards are for people who know how to properly exercise with the heavy metal kettlebells.

“You have to take a class to use these,” said Grinde. “I want to make that absolutely clear.

However, as tough as kettlebell workouts can be, there are only a few basic moves to learn. Once you know the basics, said Grinde, you can use the workout cards. And once you know the basics, you’re in for an amazing workout. “It’s the most comprehensive workout you can get,” said Grinde.”

The Kettlebell Café cards are available now from or for $25 a set, or $85 for all four sets during the company’s holiday sale.

Utne Reader offices leaving Minneapolis

HENNEPIN — The Utne Reader, one of the few national magazines headquartered in Minneapolis, will shut down its local offices and relocate to publisher Ogden Publications offices in Topeka Kansas. The local staff will complete two more issues before handing it off to the Ogden staff, which also produces titles such as Mother Earth News and Natural Home & Garden.

The magazine, which Eric Utne founded as a compilation of “the best of the alternative press,” was purchased by Ogden six years ago and has seen its circulation shrink since the magazine’s peak in the mid-1990s. But according to editor-in-chief David Schimke, the quality of the publication wasn’t at issue.

“It’s been a great run. I have to say that it’s been a great run editorially. I think we brought the magazine back to its former relevance. We became not more ideological, but much more political and forward-looking,” said Schimke. “They’re just finding it difficult to keep it here and find a way to make it work.

The move means that changes are likely on the way for the publication itself. “I think that this is the sort of magazine where the editor and staff really shape the look and feel of it,” said Schimke. “That was certainly the case when I came in. Not necessarily better or worse, just different. I hope it continues to do really well. I think it’s a really important brand. Editorially, we really aren’t struggling and it really has transcended the Internet issue. The magazine is really about a lot more than simply reprinting stuff. It’s a highly curated, fact-checked compendium of stories. I think there’s a place for it in the marketplace.”

New storefront for Tiger Rose Tattoos

SHERIDAN — Tiger Rose Tattoo only opened in the Foundry building at 349 13th Ave. NE back in July, but the business is already moving to a larger location — right next door. Owners Kyle Skyer and Metal Mike are moving from their second-floor location in the Foundry to the storefront at 355 13th Ave. NE.

Both owners say that Foundry owner Kelly Sharp has been an excellent landlord and that the other businesses in the building have been great neighbors. But when the former electronics store across the parking lot opened up, the chance to be on the ground level of 13th Avenue. Business District was one they couldn’t pass up.

Tiger Rose Tattoo will be the sole occupant of the two-story building. The former doctor’s office on the second floor will be used for special events and art
openings, said Metal Mike.

Tiger Rose Tattoo will celebrate its grand reopening on Jan. 14.

Clay Squared to Infinity opens downtown holiday location

NICOLLET MALL — Northeast Minneapolis’ clay and tile shop Clay Squared to Infinity has opened a second location downtown for the holidays. The temporary location will be open through Dec. 31 at 555 Nicollet Mall, Suite 289, on the skyway level of Gaviidae Common.

The store will present special truck shows highlighting artists from Northeast including Martha Enzler, Stephanie Kaczrowski, Emily Dyer and more. The shop also sells work by Clay Squared to Infinity co-owners Layl McDill and Josh Blanc. McDill specializes in polymer clay artwork, gifts and ornaments, while Blanc focuses on handmade tiles.

Clay Squared to Infinity will donate 5 percent of sales to the Northeast Minneapolis Arts District.

Shuga Records relocates to Chicago

SHERIDAN — After seven years in Minneapolis and three years at its current location, Shuga Records has closed its store at 165 13th Ave. NE. The business is relocating to its hometown of Chicago to focus on its growing online mail order business and running a retail shop in a larger market.

Shuga Records closed its doors on Dec. 11, but will reopen every first and third Saturday of the month to clear out inventory, starting Jan. 7. Once operations are up and running in Chicago, all Twin Cities customers will receive a 35–50 percent discount on phone orders.

Pizza Luce named Restaurant of the Year

Pizza Luce was named the 2011 Restaurant of the Year by the Minnesota Restaurant Association.

Dan McElroy, the executive vice president of the Minnesota Restaurant Association, said Luce was honored because of its consistency and the variety of food it serves, also citing how well the restaurant caters to groups such as vegans and those with gluten intolerance.

“They’re successful and creative and innovative,” McElroy said. “People in the industry are blown away that a pizza restaurant can be so diverse.”

Corey Sax, Pizza Luce’s marketing director, said the restaurant is appreciative of the award but taking the accolade in stride. Luce shared the news with their social media followers to some fanfare, but won’t be advertising the award much beyond that.

“It reinforces the idea that we’re doing the right thing and that we have happy customers and a happy staff,” Sax said. “We know we do a good job and we’ll continue doing a good job.”

Past winners of Restaurant of the Year include Manny’s Steakhouse and Mancini’s in St. Paul. The award is based on a nomination process and then voting by member restaurants.

The Minnesota Restaurant Association has 1,700 members and is under the umbrella of the trade group Minnesota Hospitality. Each year the association also honors a “Restaurateur of the Year” and announces new inductees into it’s Hospitality Hall of Fame. 2011’s Restaurateur of the Year award went to Andy Borg and Michael Paulucci of Grandma’s Restaurant Company and Tony Nicklow of Nicklow’s and Santorini was inducted into the hall of fame.

Inside a new NE retailer

AUDUBON PARK — Bags are just the beginning at A Bag Lady, the new shop at 2856 Johnson St. NE. There are handmade sweaters, rhinestone belts, big sunglasses, and glitzy jewelry.

“I’m always finding unusual things,” said Dani McNutt, who opened the store in mid-August. “They’re really fun, and not terribly expensive.”

McNutt picks up merchandise from all over the U.S.

“I’m fortunate to be able to work for an airline,” she said. “I’m always on a fact-finding mission.”

McNutt originally opened A Bag Lady in Northfield, Minn., but a college friend from the University of Minnesota convinced her that it actually belonged in Northeast.

Alongside funky handbags and shiny necklaces are locally-made products — even a few McNutt has made herself. She binds sweater pieces together to make long sweaters in colorful patterns.

McNutt currently lives in Faribault, but she’s got her eye on the cities.

“I’ve pretty much convinced my husband to move,” she said.

Mike Munzenrider and Michelle Bruch contributed to this report