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Rush River beer to flow in RF

October 26, 2006

This spring River Falls becomes the new home to a growing business owned by two young entrepreneurs, and their business is beer.

Dan Chang, 34, and Nick Anderson, 33, started Rush River Brewing Co. in 2004 after years of researching the brewing industry.

They got their start as keg washers at Mac & Jack’s Brewery in Seattle before opening their first Wisconsin brewery in Maiden Rock.

Rush River Brewery broke ground on its River Falls facility last week, located in the Whitetail Ridge Corporate Park behind the River Falls Journal building.

Anderson said the River Falls brewery is tentatively scheduled to open in March.

“One hundred percent operations will be at River Falls,” he said.

Anderson said he and Chang originally planed to move into an improved facility, one that included bottling capabilities, in about five years because they didn’t want to over extend their business. That changed because of two factors, the first being product demand.

“All of our distributors have been begging us for bottles for some time,” Anderson said. The Rush River product is now only available in kegs.

The second factor was the River Falls Economic Development Committee (EDC), an organization that works to bring businesses to Whitetail Ridge Corporate Park and River Falls Industrial Park.

Anderson said he and Chang wanted to keep their business in western Wisconsin, and the EDC had the best offer.

In three years Anderson and Chang will have the option to buy the building from the EDC at the original cost of construction.

Anderson said without the EDC they would have had to seek outside resources to build a new brewery this quickly.

River Falls City Administrator Bernie Van Osdale said the city of River Falls owned the industrial park but gave more than two acres of land to the EDC so the 10,000-square foot Rush River facility could be built and leased to Anderson and Chang.

“It’s a good start-up business with a great deal of potential,” Van Osdale said.

The lease has not been finalized, but Anderson said he considers it a formality.

He said the presence of UW-River Falls influenced the owners’ decision to come to the city..

“The college adds a lot of character to the city,” Anderson said. “It is the type of atmosphere we’d like to be in.”

Junior Nick Rabens is one of a few students who knew the brewery was coming to River Falls.

“The world can never have too much beer,” Rabens said.

Anderson and Chang said once the new facility is up and running, they will host multiple events in River Falls, starting with the grand opening.

“It’s going to be a positive influence on my life,” senior Ryan Peterson said. “I would definitely be inclined to go on tours.”

Anderson said the brewery will begin running casual weekend tours in the summer, something it has never offered before.

“We get requests from people every day for tours,” he said.

Anderson said tours weren’t held in Maiden Rock because of the small size of the facility, limited access to the area and irregular work hours.

Junior Nate Kirchner said he will be inclined to tour the brewery for multiple reasons.

“You’d see the process of how it goes from raw material to the product we see on the shelf,” Kirchner said. “Also, the free samples wouldn’t hurt.”

Chang said Rush River would like to establish a rapport with UWRF.

“We’d like to get involved with the University through internships and other ways,” he said.

Chancellor Don Betz, who is a member of the EDC, was in attendance at the groundbreaking. He said Rush River is a great addition to the community.

“If they continue to brew the kind of beer they’re brewing, they could be the next Summit,” Betz said.

Rush River offers three types of beer year round: Lost Arrow Porter, Bubble Jack IPA and their flagship beer, Unforgiven Amber Ale.

Rush River also offers two seasonal products: Small Axe Golden Ale and Winter Warmer.