Industry research shows that revenue from craft beer sales has grown by more than 300% in the U.S. since 2005.
North Dakota has been a part of that growth with breweries popping up all over the state in the past 10 years or so.
One of those is in the Capital City and the founder, brewmaster and co-owner is this week’s Someone You Should Know.
Meet Mike Frohlich — business owner, brewmaster and, once upon a time, bartender.
In college, he got a job waiting tables at a brewery in Dickinson and worked his way up from there.
He said, “The brewer asked me if I wanted to learn how to make beer and I said absolutely.”
That was in 1996.
Fast forward to 2009. He was asked where he envisioned himself in 10 years. He knew exactly how to answer that — and it’s where he is today.
Laughing Sun Brewing opened in November of 2012. Bismarck’s first brewery.
“It took me a while to get here but that’s what I envisioned myself doing someday back in those days,” he reflected.
While he has many titles to his name, one of them may be a bit unexpected: Lobbyist.
Years before Laughing Sun existed, he pushed for a brewing statute in the city, then another for state-wide taprooms, then several others; all to expand the opportunities for himself and other aspiring brewmasters in North Dakota.
His vision has only grown, ever since.
Laughing Sun produces about 2,600 gallons of beer a week and even that may soon not be enough to match the demand — most of which is sold off-site, in cans.
“It’s good, but it’s a problem,” he said. “It’s a good problem but still if you can’t deliver enough times they’re not going to order any more.”
Although running a brewery isn’t as simple as it is to sit down and enjoy a beer, it’s allowed Frohlich to work hard and be present beyond the bar.
He said, “I got to coach my son’s football team and basketball team when he was in grade school and take the time. I may have had to come to work at 3 o’clock in the morning but I could come pick him up from school at 3 p.m.”
It’s been nearly a decade of drafts, but it’s only the beginning for Mike Frohlich, whose intent is right in the name.
“My last name Frohlich in German means happy so that’s where the laughing comes from,” he explained, “and the sun doesn’t question, doesn’t judge, doesn’t ask anything in return it just gives its energy.”
Mike Frohlich is Someone You Should Know.
Over the years, Laughing Sun has moved to a bigger location, started its restaurant and catering business, added ax-throwing lanes, opened and closed a restaurant in Mandan, sells its beer in three states, and has plans to expand its live music opportunities in the coming years with the goal of a concert and event space venue.