Finding the right, personalized gift for your bridesmaids and best men can be pretty hard. What do you get that's personal, on budget, and also appreciated?
Essentially, the books are a self-guided tour designed to highlight the best local drink makers in Minnesota. Elegant and high quality, they are screenprinted by a local artist to tell the story of all the best local places to enjoy great cocktails.
It's kind of a guide to the absolute coolest, most fun, and most inventive breweries and distilleries we have here. The focus is on the Twin Cities, but there are places all over the state.
To us, they're really, "the gift of experience" which is what a wedding, friends, and family is all about.
Keep reading to hear more about the company from it's founder, Matt Dowgwillo; the concept and their mission to highlight Minnesota's place as THE destination for craft culture.
We've got a few books to give away and a couple free drinks on their new mobile app & social club!
What is Craft Notes Mission?
Matt: Our mission is to help people learn about and support Minnesota's best locally-owned businesses.
Ultimately, I'd like to see Craft Notes become a full-fledged social club for fun people that like doing new things and exploring cool places they've never been. Our approach with Craft Notes is to provide a curated list of awesome local businesses, tell their story, and then give them the a reason to go; a free drink at each place!
What do you think about local Craft Culture?
Matt: I think Minnesota is FINALLY starting to get some of the proper accolades. When I lived in Denver for a ski season, I saw signs everywhere proclaiming, "Colorado is the state of craft beer..."
We have more James Beard Award-winning chefs (per capita) than anywhere else in America. Our beer and distillery scene is bonkers, and the stuff these Minnesotans are making is unreal. Not only do we keep getting cool, new places opening up, but we've finally gotten to a point where the quality of beer we're making is top-notch; just this year alone Minnesota took home more awards at the GABF than nearly any other state. Our goal at Craft Notes is to highlight amazing local craftsmen.
Why do you think Craft Notes are good gifts for wedding parties?
Matt: To me, Craft Notes is all about experiences. We actually push these a lot for the holidays, because they are great for siblings and friends; they cost $25, but give you about $150 in drinks. But more important, they're an excuse to get together and that's what life is about.
What sets you apart from your competitors?
Matt: Craft Notes was the 1st company to really push the concept of a craft culture passport, but I'd say the biggest thing is QUALITY. We're all about "quality over quantity" - we make sure we're only featuring the absolute best. It's our curated list.
Plus, quality printing, art, writing, professional photography and community, so that people not only get value, but they also have something unique and very cool to use as the go around and explore new places.
OK, so what makes you qualified to pick "the best?"
Matt: Well...I've always been hesitant about that, but I've worked in craft beer for almost 15 years. I started the world's 1st happy hour search engine (Thrifty Hipster, 2005) and have beer part of MN Craft Brewer's Guild Events and Chop Liver since they started.
My personal favorite part of Craft Notes are the stories and the recommendations we provide; we actually talk to head brewers/owners to find out what the best thing they make is, then tell that story.
You were talking about a Social Club and Mobile App, what's that all about?
Matt: We're trying to create a community of fellow craft lovers. With our mobile app, we expand on the number of places we curate, and offer up something to do (and a free drink) every single day. We're also hosting events for people to network and meet other craft drinks lovers.
OK, I'm interested. What are your top 3 tips for learning more about Craft Culture in Minnesota?
Matt: My first tip would obviously be to get a Craft Notes book, haha.
Really though, our goal is to make sure that people are engaging with the absolute best places so that they have a good experience and can feel like they can explore more as they feel comfortable.
If I were going to give you 3 tips they would be: 1. Show up early. If you show up around happy hour time on a slow day you'll have a great opportunity to meet the bar staff. Beer-tenders are known for being social and most absolutely love the places they work for. Chat them up while they're slow, and they'll excitedly tell you everything about a place, make recommendations, and usually even give you healthy samples to boot.
2. Check out a beer festival. The St. Paul Summer Beer Fest and Beer Dabbler are probably the 2 biggest, most fun ones, but they are all pretty good.
3. Ask for samples. Most places love what they do, and they're more than happy to give you a few (usually large) samples before your 1st pint.
Where are your favorite places to drink/recommendations?
Matt: ha, there are so many! All of the places in Craft Notes are hand-picked. But if I had to choose I'd recommend....
Sociable Cider Werks: Almost no one in the country is doing what they're doing. They figured out how to, legally, be a "brewery" (most cideries are licensed in MN as "wineries"). Their ciders are dry, refreshing, and unique. Gluten-free is nice, plus I LOVE the place and the people. You couldn't support nicer folks.
Utepils Brewery: They are great for newbies in craft beer. Everything they make is exceptional and I like that their focus is on perfecting traditional European-style beers.
Moto-i: They don't get nearly enough cred for what they do for "craft" because they aren't as new or hip as some of the NE Minneapolis breweries, but the owner literally went to Japan to learn how to make sake, then came back to open the world's 1st sake brew pub off their island.
How to Order Craft Notes: If you'd like to purchase for your wedding party there are 2 editions available for Minnesota. You can also download their native mobile apps on PLAY or ITUNES.
(Set up an account and use the promo "hifriend" for 2 free drinks!)
You can also win a pair from us, Forever Bride! Simply follow @foreverbride and @craftnotes and sign up below to win!
Winner will be announced on December 26th!
Complimentary cocktails from Lawless Distilling made possible with Craft Notes book!