Pine Island brewery expanding, giving back to the community and Ukraine

Published: Apr. 1, 2022 at 9:27 AM CDT
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PINE ISLAND, Minn. (KTTC) – Women-owned South x Southeast Minnesota Brewing Company in Pine Island is expanding its business while also giving back to the community and Ukraine.

The brewery is owned by Anne Fahy-Gust and Tessa Leung. It’s just one of three women-owned breweries in Minnesota. It opened in Sept. 2020, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Six weeks later, it needed to shut down due COVID-19 restrictions on restaurants and bars.

Fahy-Gust said it was then they had to change their business model, producing more crawlers and growlers increasing distribution to liquor stores.

“We were able to work through that.” she said. “Tessa did a great job of getting out to the liquor stores and the municipal liquor stores. We also had great support from the community.”

The brewery has taken off since, so much so that it’s expanding. Ground recently broke on a new brewing building behind the main building. It will allow staff to use a canning machine, instead of doing everything by hand.

“We do about 400 cans per week by hand,” Fahy-Gust said. “The brewery equipment will be twice the size of what we currently have. We will keep the smaller one to experiment with new brews, and the larger one will be for all of our big beer production.”

The women said they decided to capitalize on their success by giving back to the community, on a local and global level.

The past year, they made a brew for the Steel Horse Militia, a motorcycle group that fundraises for different charities. A portion of sales went to them.

“Being able to make a difference in greater Minnesota, your community or the world as a whole is important,” Fahy-Gust said. “It’s important to be present. Otherwise, you get into your own little hole and you don’t realize all the other things going on that impact other peoples’ lives.”

They currently have a Freedom Scotch Ale. A portion of proceeds from sales will go to help people in Ukraine.

A Magical Unicorn brew also just launched. It’s a pink-toned wheat ale beer with hints of hibiscus and honey. Edible glitter can be added to the beer for “extra sparkle.”

Part of the sale proceeds from the Magical Unicorn brew will benefit the Pink Boots Society, an organization that supports women brewers. There are only 23 women brewers in Minnesota.

“They’re able to take a course on yeast or take a course on malt. Knowledge is the way to grow in your field” Fahy-Gust said. “I think that’s the case in any industry. And I do feel like women have to get a little bit more knowledge to get the same sort of level of respect.”

Fahy-Gust and Leung work with the Environmental Protection Agency to minimize waste. They are holding an Earth Day event on April 22 to demonstrate how their waste.

Both women said they plan on continuing to give back to the community, and hope for continued success.

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