Food, Journalism

The Grain Expectations of Casey Holley

Casey Holley

“A lot of people have forgotten that beer is a mostly agricultural product,” Casey Holley says. “There’s people growing hops in Minnesota, there’s people growing grain in Minnesota, and their livelihood depends on it. And for me, I just kind of lost that connection that these ingredients have stories, and they’re based in history and family and tradition and flavor and all these cool things that we care about.”

Holley is the proprietor of Able Seedhouse + Brewery, which opened a year ago in a Northeast Minneapolis building that used to be a maintenance garage for school buses. It came with the slope-to-drain floors and high ceilings conducive to brewing and the giant roll-up doors conducive to a light-filled, airy taproom — and, at 10,000 square feet, enough space to accommodate a malthouse. The latter was important to Holley, who named his company “seedhouse” because it was always his intention to make his own malt from Minnesota grains. Thus far it hasn’t been easy: Malting is expensive and labor intensive, and five years in, he’s just at the early experimentation stage. Yet he’s as passionate about the project as ever. When he talks about it, he seems to slip unconsciously into rhetorical patterns of speech, repeating and amplifying like an evangelical. And he’s so earnest and knowledgeable that he’s persuasive.

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[Appeared in Heavy Table. Photo Credit: Brianna Stachowski]