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True Roots #1



Those of you that have taken the time and made an effort to investigate, read and observe the content on this web site already know that before I started making Crafted to Last, I worked as a research biochemist for almost 20 years. My main interests were trying to understand how biological systems regulate fuel metabolism in response to changing environmental conditions.  Because I began that journey in the early 1980’s the focus was on proteins and enzymes rather than the genetic emphasis that dominates such discussions today.  Instead of a long and interesting digression, let me just say it plain: enzymes are amazing molecules that make chemical reactions go a lot faster and provide a means to regulate those reactions. They introduce mechanisms of order into the chaos of random spontaneous chemical reactions.

One of the more intriguing enzyme mechanisms I’ve come across is bioswitching and signal amplification. This relates to regulation of human fuel metabolism because when you eat something after not eating for more than 6 hrs or so, within 5-10 minutes of swallowing the first bite the flow of biological fuels, specifically carbohydrate, fat and protein, are redirected almost simultaneously.  One sad fact of medical research is that the funding agencies tend to favor highly reductionist inquiries and this forces people to consider their chosen target of investigation in isolation from other influences.  Not in all cases, but in enough that concepts like  “whole body regulation” or “systems biology” were a hard to sell.  Especially when funding rates for basic research were plummeting to all time lows.  Everything I was finding in my research and the studies of my peers was pointing toward initiating projects aimed at unifying the detailed results of reductionist programs into a more wholistic and systemic perspective.  Moreover, the computing and data storage advances were making it feasible to start addressing these questions in a statistically relevant way and that is the foundation of the scientific method. This is still happening even though I am not a major part of it any more from the strict defined confines of a the academic research community.

Bottom line: The Campaign for Music was designed as a cultural switch. A little input from each of you will be amplified into a benefit for everyone and for local musicians in particular. Push the button. Flip the switch.




Press Release

Home brewed film about Minnesota beer opens this summer.

The independently produced documentary Crafted to Last – Minnesota Beer Blossoms
will debut on Saturday July 19, 2014 at the Parkway Theater in South Minneapolis. The world premiere of this important film will include local beer, food and music.

Crafted to Last features an original score composed by Zack Lozier especially for the film. Zack is an in-demand performer and composer in MN and around the country. Because Zack is a stalwart of the Twin Cities music community he was able to bring in an array of local talent to the project. The score is a highlight of the film. It includes two unique montage segments in which the music, audio and video step outside of the typical documentary format to celebrate water and beer.

An immediate effort is the Campaign for Music; our first community funding effort. The money raised will be used to pay for the music CDDF Productions has commissioned for the film and bonus material and for live music performances at the Opening Night events beginning with Minneapolis on July 19. The campaign ends on June 18 but may be extended if necessary.

Media Contact: Dave Okar, [email protected]
Details about the documentary film: This is a home brewed film because it was made with the same sense of experimentation and dedication to style that are so prevalent in the brewing community.

Crafted to Last is a feature-length film shot on location at 16 breweries and brew pubs in 10 cities across Minnesota from February 2012 through April 2014. A wide cross section of the Minnesota brewing community appear in the documentary talking about beer, brewing, laws, family, history and many other verbal trinkets and quotable quotes. The documentary is notable because it captured the earliest phases of the 2 year old boom in the craft/local beer brewing sector touched off by reform of the statewide beer distribution laws effective in January 2012.

The film puts the calculated frenzy of the modern day expansion in the historical contexts of the brew pubs in the 1980’s and ‘90’s, as well as prohibition and corporate consolidation after WW2 and through the 1970’s. It tells the stories of many people from around the state that are building local businesses and have deep meaningful connections to the neighborhoods and local communities. The film is a moving snapshot of an incredible moment for craft beer in Minnesota.

A Culture Grows in Minnesota

This Saturday at 4:45 PM at the St. Paul Summer Beer Fest I’m hosting a video & roundtable discussion. Putting together this session has been a lot of fun.  I met some new farmers, connected with more brewers and get to work with a bunch of people that I respect. But the coolest part is that I took the opportunity to revisit some of the source material from the film and dig into the Video Compost Pile, too. The result is the new video short that will be shown exclusively at the event on Saturday.

The discussion will spring from 3 interrelated topics: Minnesota culture, growth of brewing and other businesses, and hops.  Panelists were chosen to represent these aspects. Melinda Hedberg and myself can speak to the MN culture and communities. Amy Johnson and Paul Johnston provide the brewing perspective. Russ Henry and Ben Boo represent businesses that have been positively impacted by the growth of local craft beer in their neighborhood.

The video compresses 20 more voices from across the state and around the corner into the spring board for the panel to bring us up to date with their stories. The emphasis is on local culture, neighborhoods and economies because that is where we can have the most significant impact.  That brings us to hops. Local hops.  This is where a push will help.  That’s why we’re featuring Ben and his partners at Mighty Axe Hops. Minnesota brewers need more Minnesota hops.

If this session can raise one tiny ripple I hope it will be a call to answer the demand and grow hops like we’ve been growing breweries.

Hops are a big part of my video archives from Crafted to Last. From Community Hops Garden to the collaboration between Lift Bridge and Hippity Hops Farm.


Happening Now

The roll out of Crafted to Last is moving right along.  More and more people are asking me about my film and getting ready to see it at the world premiere on July 19 at the Parkway Theater in Minneapolis. There will be beer, film and live music. Tickets on sale soon.

This is the next phase of the Campaign for Music – our first attempt at community funding. We are actively seeking bands and solo performers to play at the Opening Night Events in Minneapolis and Duluth. We already putting together the MPLS debut and it is gonna be good. You don’t want to miss it.  Tickets are one thing. Putting in cash through the Campaign is another. The more dollars we raise from the community, the more we can afford to return to local musicians, print shops and beer drinkers and the more enhanced your experience of the film will become. Its true.



One of the more interesting developments is the opportunity afforded by Andrew Schmitt and the St. Paul Summer Beer Fest. They’ve given me a 30 minute platform at the premiere beer fest in MN to highlight my film and let people know that this is about more than beer. It is about what happens when cultural and economic realities that had previously been out of synch with the prevailing political, social and legal tendencies are stimulated by a reformation of beer distribution laws. It is about what happens when good beer breeds good sense and education is held in esteem.

I’ll show a very fresh video on June 7 at 4:45 PM, then open a discussion with 5 other people that have been impacted by the current expansion of local craft brewing in Minnesota. The panel reflects topics in the film that fit the theme of the session – how the Surly Law impacted your neighbors, the communities of which we are a part and the economy of our city, neighborhood and state.

Russ  Henry – Dirt Farmer.  Ben Boo – Hop Farmer.  Melinda Hedberg – Awareness Farmer.  Paul Johnston – Beer Farmer. Amy Johnson – Business Farmer. Me?  I’m a Catalyst Farmer.


Show up early to see the exclusive video made only for this event. Meantime – help us pay some bills by contributing to the Campaign for Music. Every bit helps.

Local Economies

We are getting very close to setting the date and venue for the debut of Crafted to Last – Minnesota Beer Blossoms. Looks like mid-July. Minneapolis. The venue can support all of our plans/dreams for this event. Local beer. Local film. Local Music. One event at one location. Its been a long road and we are almost there.

CTL_FBCover3Music is an important part of Crafted to Last at many levels and in many ways. Its all laid out in the Campaign for Music. A critical aspect of the Campaign for Music in particular and of the MN Craft Beer Project in general is the emphasis on local economies and communities. Highlighting the impact of locally brewed beer on associated local businesses is appropriate not because I happen to think that it is cool to have as many locally sourced options as possible, but because it is good for me, my neighborhood and our communities. The ideas are nicely summarized here. The basic idea is that dollars spent at local businesses are more quickly recycled into the immediate economy and the longer the currency circulates in the neighborhood before it leaks out to larger and larger cash streams, the more energy the local economy can glean from the flow of cash through our hands and into our neighbor’s.


The Campaign for Music was designed with this in mind. All of the money we raise in that campaign will be immediately returned to local economies through the community of musicians that participate in our projects. The music made possible by the campaign will enhance the film and video that describes how the community of Minnesota beer brewers responded to the beer distribution laws reformed in 2012. The documentary could not have been made without the participation of many breweries all across the state and the support of the Minnesota beer communities from everywhere we’ve been and a lot of places we have not.

The Campaign for Music and the roll-out of the documentary explicitly connect two important local communities, music and beer, within the state. By positioning our home brewed film at the nexus of the local beer and local music movements we have created a kind of social amplifier, or a cultural force multiplier. One contribution, monetary and otherwise, benefits in at least 3 communities local film, local music and local beer.




Crafted to Last Debut

fullcoloronblackThis is an auspicious moment for Crafted to Last – Minnesota Beer Blossoms. A tentative date for the debut of the film has been set and we are working with a local theater to stage a memorable event in Minneapolis when the public gets the first chance to see what I have been talking about and creating for the last 2 years.

It has been a tremendous honor and pleasure to work with the people in the film, drink their wonderful beers, and be given the opportunity to tell their stories to the world. This project has repeatedly exceeded my expectations in many different ways.

I am humbled every time I watch it and I’ve seen this film at least 100 times in one form or another.

I’ve lived with the people in the film for quite a while. I feel like we are old friends because I’ve spent hours listening to every nuance of the words they spoke on the day I recorded them. I’m quite pleased with the film as it stands. It is everything I envisioned on the road from Madison to Tomah in 2011 and more. The idea behind putting two people from each brewery on screen together was to capture some of the chemistry that underpins the brewery. When this worked, it worked very well. In every case it seemed to loosen everyone up and get them to a place where they could speak spontaneously about the subjects at hand.

I can’t wait to show everyone what we have been cooking up over here. That much should be clear from all the videos I have released over the last 2 years. The really cool part is that very little of what has already been released is included in the final cut of Crafted to Last. Even if you have dedicated yourself to watching every frame of the material we have already released on-line, you will be surprised by what you see and hear in the documentary.

Stay Tuned. Tell your friends. Support the Campaign.