Brandon Schulz has been brewing up a dream in his Rochester garage for years.
Now with the help of a business partner, he's preparing to take his tasty creations public in a big way next summer.
Schulz, who works as a software architect for HGST Inc., has been an avid home brewer for about seven years. He has advanced to making 12-gallon batches of his beers for friends and family.
His beers might have stayed in the garage, but the Minnesota Legislature passed the Surly or taproom bill in 2011. That law, named after the Surly Brewing Co. that pushed for it, allows breweries to sell their beer on site in their own tap rooms.
That led other craft breweries to spring up. There are now about 50 breweries making beer in Minnesota.
"I started to be aware of all of the small breweries and brew pubs and then something just clicked," Schulz said. That's when the LTS Brewing Co. was born. LTS stands for Life's Too Short.
"There's an old home brewing saying that 'Life's too short to drink bad beer.' We just took the first part to get across what we're about," he said.
While Schulz is an experienced brew master, he realized he couldn't brew up a business on his own. He found a partner with a head for business in HGST co-worker Jeff Werning.
A firmware architect, Werning has helped bring many technology companies to Rochester.
"He worries about keeping the beer flowing. I worry about the cash flow," said Werning.
The duo has high hopes for their hops, though they intend to keep their day jobs and launch this as a sideline business.
While everything is not finalized, the plan is to open LTS Brewing with a taproom in a revamped industrial building at 2001 32nd Ave. N.W. That location will make them visible to drivers on the increasingly busy 19th Street Northwest, where the new Lourdes High School and a new Paws and Claws pet shelter recently opened.
They also plan to serve craft-brewed sodas such as root beer and cream soda made by Schulz, along with a menu of light appetizers. There will be an offering of four to six beers also. The tentative goal is to brew about 700 barrels of beer a year. Each barrel holds about 31 gallons.
There are many licenses, permits and other pieces of paperwork standing between now and when the first pint will be served.
"That's why you don't see breweries pop up on every corner," Werning said.
Schulz said this is a good time to launch such a business, with Rochester growing and Mayo Clinic's Destination Medical Center initiative attracting lots of attention to the city.
Rochester already has one small brewery and taproom, Kinney Creek Brewery, which just marked its first anniversary, but Werning is confident there's room for more.
"We feel there's plenty of room in the market for everyone," Werning said. "There's lots of potential for growth in Rochester."
Area small breweries
• Kinney Creek Brewery, 1016 Seventh St. N.W.
• Mantorville Brewing Co., Mantorville
• Olvalde Farm and Brewing Co., Rollingstone