HALLOCK, MINN.-Residents of this small town can already boast that their corner of northwest Minnesota is home to a distillery that distributes spirits across the country, but soon they'll have a brewery to call their own as well.
Four relatives are renovating an old service station along the city's main strip into a brewery they're calling Revelation Ale Works. They're raising funds and starting work on the roughly 75-year-old building with plans to open later this year.
The four owners-husband and wife Ryan and Lindsey Evenson, along with Ryan's brother, Josh, and his wife, Ashley-hope the project can help boost downtown Hallock, a city of roughly 950 residents that's about 70 miles north of Grand Forks.
"There are a lot of people in town who wanted to see this become a cafe or something like that; they didn't want to see it go," Lindsey Evenson said. "It's really kind of a local landmark kind of place."
Just outside Hallock is Far North Spirits, a distillery that began operating within the past few years. That business produces spirits from grains grown on its farm.
Lindsey Evenson pointed to the distillery, local hotels and a food cart operator as evidence of the city's brewing potential.
"We want to make Hallock a destination," she said. "We're really kind of a hip community up here."
Mayor Paul Clay echoed those sentiments, adding he hoped the business would draw tourists to the area.
"Hopefully, it will be a good economic spinoff for the whole community," he said.
Along with a brewhouse, the Evensons plan to have a tap room for customers to drink fresh beer. They're also planning to feature a "kid-friendly" area and root beer for underage patrons.
They want to distribute beer in kegs to regional bars and have looked at a small canning operation.
Along with money from their own pockets and investors, Revelation launched an online fundraiser on Kickstarter. As of 11 a.m. Wednesday, they had raised $2,525 from 31 backers.
Revelation will use that money for the brewing system.
"That's kind of our main focus, is to be able to make beer, but we want the tap room in order to bring people in," Josh Evenson said. "If we can use the Kickstarter money for the beer, we can use other funds to focus on the tap room."
If they don't raise enough money online, they'll likely start off with a smaller brewing operation.
The business also received a $5,000 forgivable loan from the city's economic development authority. Since Ryan Evenson is the city clerk administrator, he abstained from the decision-making process, he said.
"This was a great idea," said Laura Reese, a Hallock City Council and EDA board member who didn't have conflict-of-interest concerns. "You would be hard-pressed, with somebody who has their stuff together, for the EDA to really say no to a good idea that's going to bring business to town."
Standing in the future brewery at 146 S. Atlantic Ave. recently, Ryan Evenson listed the things that will need to be fixed before they can open, including the leaky roof, as well the electrical and plumbing systems.
With a renovation project ahead of them-not to mention licensing and fundraising-the Evensons said they hope to open sometime between June and November.
The Evensons were introduced to craft beer while living in Oregon. They came back to the area a few years ago-Ryan, Josh and Ashley are from Thief River Falls, Minn., and Ryan and Lindsey met at North Dakota State University-and started developing plans for a brewery.
They hope the venture will help spread a love of craft beer to locals.
"(People) don't necessarily want to spend the craft brewery prices if they don't know if they're going to like it," Lindsey Evenson said. "To build that awareness and people's willingness to spend money on something that tastes good takes a little bit of time."
They've already honed their skills with homebrewing and by growing their own hops, which they have sold to Fargo Brewing Co. They've connected with other brewers in the region and have talked with Far North Spirits about ways they might be able to work together.
Ryan Evenson said those conversations show how craft brewers and distillers don't always see each other as competitors.
"Another cool thing about craft brewing is that they're excited for us," he said. "It's so cool. It's so supportive."