Dangerous Man’s Difficult Move

Sarah Bonvallet wonders if the brewery she and her husband Rob Miller (pictured above) began 11 years ago during the nascent, rapid-fire opening of Minnesota taprooms, is no longer meant to exist. Dangerous Man recently shut down brewing at their original Northeast Minneapolis location, a critically lauded hotspot for the community for 11 years. 

Owning a brewery in a post-COVID world is difficult. The cost of grain, hops, lids for crowlers, labels for crowlers – all the many items needed to make and sell beer, is increasing. Dangerous Man, which rented rather than owned its formerly Minneapolis facility, hasn’t been taking in taproom profits for months as they figured out what to do next. The brewery announced a plan and a plea for crowdfunding support last week: Dangerous Man would construct a taproom next to the owners’ Maple Lake home and production facility, about 45 minutes outside of the Twin Cities.

Social media response was swift and negative, focused on the brewery’s planned move and its call for financial support from its fans.

“First they went out of sight and now they are out of touch. Love your beer but please reach out to Maple Lake folks exclusively for their support since that is who you are serving now.”

“Donations to open in Maple Lake? Who the f*&! thought this was a good idea?”

“Let me get this straight: a privately owned, for-profit business is asking for donations from citizens of a city in which it has chosen to leave? That’s some next level cringe.”

“Waiting for the next post with you guys sitting on a couch titled, “we’re sorry.”

Bonvallet says she is considering a video response.

Dangerous man turned comments off their Instagram post, but the news spread onto Reddit as well, with a similar response, and the Facebook post has nearly reached 300 comments, a mixed bag of positive, neutral, and negative.

“I was a little shocked how upset people were that we weren’t going to be in Minneapolis again,” Bonvallet says. “I always felt like our support was larger than just the [Twin] Cities. We’re part of the Minnesota brewing scene. Not just one city; we are part of the whole state. It surprised me that the taproom was viewed so much as this brick-and-mortar thing in one place. I always felt we had a larger place in the world than just that.”


As of this writing, Dangerous Man’s fundraiser has pulled in 225 supporters contributing $29,610 out of an end-of-June goal of $165,000. Bonvallet says even a total of $50,000 raised may yield enough funds to buy a shipping container and begin construction on an outdoor taproom, should other financial routes also bear fruit.

Bonvallet agrees that asking for money as a for-profit business felt awkward and uncomfortable, but notes that the couple aren’t millionaires and spent some months not taking a salary. “It’s a really hard ask and puts us in a vulnerable position of being told no,” Bonvallet says.

“Having a production facility and losing the taproom wasn’t the original plan,” Bonvallet says, noting the game-changing nature of COVID, and a $2 million loan taken out to establish the company’s production facility, which was $500,000 more than expected due to a steep rise in shipping rates.

“I don’t want to be another brewery that closes right now,” she continues. “We’d love to be able to make it during this really challenging time and tell this story of, ‘Oh my gosh, that was a tough time to survive as a small business, but look at us: we have this beautiful taproom and beer garden.”

That taproom and beer garden is simply not feasible in the Twin Cities, Bonvallet said. Bonvallet says it just isn’t possible to do something similar, or even a part of it, on $165,000 in the Twin Cities. “I can’t build a taproom for that,” Bonvallet says. “From a financial aspect, I have this unique opportunity to build something that is new and different without having to amass a huge amount of capital.”


A lot of emotion has radiated through Dangerous Man’s owners since the fundraiser was posted.

“I’d be lying if it [the social media response] didn’t make me pause and say, ‘does the universe want Dangerous Man to exist in a new way?’” Bonvallet says. “I can’t lie and say we are gung-ho going forward without pausing and thinking about the response.

“Am I still really excited about this idea, and does it have potential and is the right decision for our company? Yes. It’s innovative; it feels authentic to Rob and myself, and the Dangerous Man company.”

And if the funding falls through?

Bonvallet says Dangerous Man will keep making beer and growing distribution for as long as possible. If it takes six months to raise funds, it will launch next year. “We are having a blast making beer for the self-distribution and are OK if some ideas take a bit more time to develop,” she says.