Twin Cities entrepreneurs debut vodka made from Red River Valley sugar beets
MOORHEAD, Minn. -- Twin Cities entrepreneurs have developed a new premium-pour vodka made entirely from beet sugar produced here in the Red River Valley. BET (pronounced "beet") Vodka is expected to hit liquor store shelves here within the next f...
MOORHEAD, Minn. -- Twin Cities entrepreneurs have developed a new premium-pour vodka made entirely from beet sugar produced here in the Red River Valley. BET (pronounced "beet") Vodka is expected to hit liquor store shelves here within the next few weeks.
The vodka was developed by Ben Brueshoff and Jerad Poling, friends who met in 2013 at a Fulton Brewery networking event in Minneapolis.
Brueshoff said they immediately realized they shared a "pioneering spirit." They discussed the local craft beer market, but agreed it was becoming saturated. So, they decided to turn to spirits. Brueshoff said they wanted develop a spirit that was "different while maintaining a local element and story."
Poling, an avid home brewer and distiller, suggested sugar beets as the answer.
Poling and Brueshoff reached out to business development personnel at American Crystal Sugar Co. for advice and were excited about what they learned.
"In doing research, we discovered that Minnesota is the largest producer of sugar beets in the United States. And, it just so happens that sugar beets turn out to be a very pure and ideal base crop for the creation of alcohol," Brueshoff said.
"That's when we thought, 'Why is nobody making a vodka or any spirit primarily out of sugar beets given their abundance in the state?,' " Poling said.
They also took a deep interest in the story of Henry Oxnard, the man who pioneered a way to process sugar beets in the late 19th century. He is the inspiration for BET Vodka's motto, "Share the pioneering spirit."
"When we say 'Share the pioneering spirit' it is partly in reference to the literal sharing of our spirit, BET Vodka. But, digging deeper, it refers to Henry Oxnard as the original sugar beet pioneer and his spirit of industry," Brueshoff said. "Today we feel that everyone is a pioneer in their own way and with a unique story to share. When you come together for a drink of BET Vodka, those are moments when you share your pioneering spirit."
The business partners enlisted 45th Parallel to produce the vodka at its distillery in New Richmond, Wis. Poling said one reason was so he and Brueshoff would remain free to promote the brand.
"At this point, having our own physical distillery would require not only a lot of money, but it would require a lot of time and attention," he said. "I think it would probably take away from our goal of connecting people through our product."
BET Vodka retails for between $32.99 and 34.99 for a 750-milliliter bottle. Brueshoff describes it as a "sipping vodka."
"BET is a sipping vodka that can be enjoyed neat and our recipes highlight a 'less is more' mindset," he said. "That is, fewer ingredients that are easy for people to make and that highlight the nice profile of the vodka itself."
To view recipes or find out where BET Vodka is available, visit www.beetspirits.com .
Hallock brewery expands distribution
Far North Spirits, a craft distillery based near Hallock, Minn., has expanded its distribution network to include California.
The producer of small-batch, craft-distilled spirits was founded by Michael Swanson and Cheri Reese. Swanson plants and harvests non-GMO grains on his fourth-generation family farm. He also mills, mashes, ferments, distills and bottles their whiskey, gin, rum and vodka.
California is the eighth state to carry the Far North Spirits brand.