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Four Firkins' Alvey Talks All Things Beer at State Fair

The owner of the St. Louis Park craft beer store was at the Minnesota Craft Brewers Guild exhibit on Wednesday.

It's only fitting that in the first year of the Minnesota Craft Brewers Guild exhibit at the Minnesota State Fair, Jason Alvey would be a featured speaker.

Alvey owns St. Louis Park craft beer store , and the Australian transplant is one of the most knowledgeable people around on the subject of craft brewing, particularly local craft brewing.

"I’m what they call a beer geek," Alvey told the crowd Wednesday at the brewers guild exhibit. "Not a beer snob."

By that, Alvey said that he meant that he wants to get others into craft beer—not thumb his nose at them.

(You can watch a video of Alvey's full talk above)

Alvey also talked about how the craft beer scene is currently exploding in Minnesota and elsewhere in America. He said it's a stark contrast to the first few decades after World War II, which Alvey described as a bleak time for brewing.

He said that's because after the war, beer supplies such as barley were in short supply. To compensate, brewers started using rice as an additive, which ultimately cheapened the quality of the beer.

Alvey also said that the advent of TV dinners made Americans more accustomed to bland, boring flavors—and brewers matched the trend.

“Good beer didn’t exist. It’s pretty scary to think about," Alvey said. “The beer scene in America was dead and completely silent.”

But slowly, new craft breweries started to pop up to fill the void. And while craft beer still makes up less than 10 percent of the market today, the growth of the industry is certainly noticeable.

“Craft beer is no longer a niche," Alvey said. "It is for everyone.”

Alvey's store has helped with the renaissance locally. Though many in the industry said he was "crazy" to open a craft-beer-only store five years ago, the Firkins has flourished. He hit $1.2 million in sales last year and hopes to top $2 million this year.

And judging by the popularity of the new craft brewers guild exhibit at the fair, the craft beer movement should continue to be a staple at the Great Minnesota Get-Together for years to come.

"It's amazing how far we’ve come," Alvey said.

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