Frank Clemens got into homebrewing a decade ago, when craft beer options were few and far between.
Now, Clemens and three friends are gearing up to open Flatland Brewery and serve up a cold one to the general public.
It'll be West Fargo's first brewery-but it certainly won't be the only craft beer game in the community as existing favorites like Fargo Brewing Co., Kilstone Brewing and Drekker Brewing Co. in Fargo and Junkyard Brewing Co. in Moorhead are joined by new competitors.
Flatland is aiming to open by the end of July at 3140 Bluestem Drive, while two more new breweries and a taproom in south Fargo are expected to launch later this year.
Clemens said he isn't concerned about the booming number of craft brewers in the community. Other areas that have seen an influx like this have reported a surprising trend, he said: More breweries tend to increase sales for everyone.
"It kind of creates an echo chamber," Clemens said. "Once people get interested in the local brewery in their neighborhood, they get into going in and trying new things, and that makes them more likely to drive across town to check out one of the other places."
Don Kenna started homebrewing seven years ago as "a little distraction from life," diving into the hobby and doing his research. But it became the former teacher's full-time focus a couple years ago after some friends died and he began to re-evaluate his own life.
"I talked to my wife and she said, 'Either do this or stop talking about it,' " he said.
The result is Prairie Brothers Brewing Co., which is tentatively set to open its doors in late October at 4474 23rd Ave. S. in Fargo.
Despite the name, there are only friends involved in the business.
"We in the Upper Midwest have to be more than just friends to survive in this climate; we have to be family, and beer makes everybody family," he said.
The 36-year-old said he'd like to open with six base brews, including a traditional pale ale, an IPA, a porter or stout, a red and a cream ale. About half of the 3,600-square-foot space will be a dedicated taproom with 10 taps.
Prairie Brothers still needs to build at the leased space and secure a liquor license, but Kenna said his goal is to do growler fills at the taproom and get his beer into six locally owned bars in the community within the first six months of business.
If things go according to plan, work could start on the south Fargo space within the next month, he said.
Not far away, Fargo Brewing is moving ahead with construction on its new Fargo Brewing Ale House taproom, a 2,700-square-foot space at 4445 17th Ave. S. expected to open by the fall.
The space is "pretty much brand outreach for us," according to co-founder John Anderson. While the brewery's production space and taproom at 610 N. University Drive in downtown Fargo has been open to the public since 2013, the location can make it difficult for people in other parts of the community to stop by, he said.
"It'll just be much more friendly and much more easy for people on the south side to get to," he said.
Anderson said the Ale House will have 16 taps and be open seven days a week.
A short drive west of Fargo along Interstate 94, the small town of Mapleton will soon gain a new brewery as a Fargo resident moves forward with his dream of getting his craft beer to the public.
Sam Corr and his wife, Kelly Corr, hope to open Drumconrath Brewing Co. at 349 Knutson St. this October. He plans to offer two or three flagship beers at first and eventually expand the options, starting with an American-style IPA, an Irish red and an Irish stout.
Corr originally wanted to open in Fargo but said he was drawn to Mapleton's streamlined liquor license process as well as the ability to serve up brews to residents who otherwise don't have many convenient options right now.
"Mapleton obviously would benefit from it, and Casselton's right down the road," he said. "There's a lot of people that commute from Fargo that might want to stop off for a pint on their way home, and there's a lot of industry around Mapleton and Casselton."
Like Clemens, Corr said the new breweries joining the local craft beer industry should be a good thing for brew lovers as well as existing businesses.
"It's an exciting time for beer in Fargo, that's for sure," he said.
F-M craft beer locations
• Drekker Brewing Co., 630 1st Ave. N., Fargo; www.facebook.com/drekkerbrewing
• Drumconrath Brewing Co. (opening this fall), 349 Knutson St., Mapleton, N.D.; www.facebook.com/drumconrathbrewing
• Fargo Brewing Ale House (opening later this year), 4445 17th Ave. S., Fargo; www.facebook.com/fargobrewing
• Fargo Brewing Co., 610 N. University Drive, Fargo; www.facebook.com/fargobrewing
• Flatland Brewery (opening later this month), 3140 Bluestem Drive, West Fargo; www.facebook.com/flatlandbrewery
• Junkyard Brewing Co., 1416 1st Ave. N., Moorhead; www.facebook.com/junkyardbrewery
• Kilstone Brewing, 764 34th St. N., Fargo; www.facebook.com/kilstonebrewing
• Prairie Brothers Brewing Co. (opening this fall), 4474 23rd Ave. S., Fargo; www.facebook.com/prairiebrosbrewing