I am a city boy, born and raised in the suburbs of Minneapolis. My world changed in December when I took a job at the Perham Focus as the newspaper's main reporter. Now, here I am, in a town of just over 3,000 people, learning what small town living is all about. Some people have a way of always attracting the spotlight, but my “focus” will be on those who quietly go about their day making this community a better place to live. And since this is my new journey, too, I wanted to document my discovering what this "Perham pride" thing is all about. Everybody in Perham has a story, unique in their own way … 1 in 3,000.
Perham native Cyrus Bickell has been working at Disgruntled Brewing almost as long as the taproom has been open. Bickell started as a bartender just a couple months after the brewery’s grand opening three years ago. Since then, he’s worked his way up to taproom manager and recently became head brewer.
“It’s weird how surreal it is,” Bickell said grabbing his lengthy beard and looking around the taproom. “What I make, we sell and people drink.”
Brewing wasn’t a new concept to Bickell. Before starting at Disgruntled, he homebrewed wine for seven years. Now as head brewer at Disgruntled, Bickell says he’s able to express himself through the brewery's ever-changing list of taps.
Bickell describes himself as more of a chef than a brewer. Recent beers have been brewed with pizza crusts, while another concoction includes blueberry pancake mix.
“I enjoy being able to blur the lines of what beer is and what it can be,” Bickell said. “I just like the fact you can do just about anything.”
Bickell said he learned the basics from previous head brewer Pete Waldon. After Waldon left, Bickell was cut loose. While he was working under Waldon, Bickell experimented with small batches. Since being on his own, he hasn’t done a small batch since.
“Everything I do, it’s the first time I’ve ever done it,” he said. “I’m basically winging it, in a very big way. It’s kind of scary.”
Being new to the role, Bickell hasn’t yet built up a network of industry friends to bounce ideas off of.
“There’s probably a lot of stuff with somebody else around to be like ‘oh I don’t think you should do that,’” Bickell said.
Despite making it up as he goes along, Bickell has the full support of the brewery’s owners. He said they were nervous at first, but now the reviews are in, they’ve given him free reign.
With his growing success, Bickell said he’s deeply rooted in Disgruntled, and would never leave for a bigger brewery elsewhere.
“I love this place, I did tattoo it on me,” Bickell said pointing to the brewery’s logo on his arm.