– By Emily Taplin –
The idea for the spirit started to take shape two years ago when Ben Brueshoff and Jerad Poling met at an event for entrepreneurs at Fulton Brewery in Minneapolis. The pair quickly discovered their similar passions for bringing people together and became partners, with a mission to shape a brand that would do just that. I asked Ben how they landed on a spirit while meeting at a brewery. He told me, they felt, across the country and even right in the Twin Cities the microbrewing industry was becoming oversaturated. At the same time, spirits were just beginning to make a resurgence.
They chose to make vodka. It’s one of the most popular spirits consumed in the United States, a liquor Ben believes is misunderstood. Like the scar on the top of my head from a winter night gone wrong in college, many of us can recall a complicated experience attached to guzzling down one too many of the clear liquid drinks. So, Ben and Jerad set out to create a product that would allow us to pour vodka another shot, a liquor where the focus would be on the buzz of being together rather than just a fuzzy feeling.
Many of us know vodka as a colorless, odorless, and flavorless beverage meant to be drowned with soda or cranberry juice, or if you’re me, Bloody Mary mix. Brueshoff and Poling saw an opportunity to create something distilled down to its purest essence, with a flavor that would stand on its own. “It’s easy to make vodka poorly,” Ben said, “but hard to do it well.” In order to do it well, they needed to find the right ingredient, something understated but solid. Most vodkas are distilled from corn or grain; they gravitated to a sweeter source, something readily available in our state. If the title hasn’t already given it away, BĒT Vodka (pronounced like beet) is made from sugar beets.
The vegetables were a natural fit for several reasons. The first is because the ingredient has deep Minnesota roots and is a huge agricultural story for our state. The Land of 10,000 Lakes is saturated with sugar beets. In fact, Minnesota is the largest producer of sugar beets in the country; it makes up about 35 percent of the industry. Ben told me while Minnesotans aren’t typically inclined to brag, this is the industry we should be telling everyone about. The beets are usually processed into sugar and can be found in foods and drinks we consume daily, like cereal, Ketchup, fruit juice, and ice cream. The entrepreneurs wanted to take beets and create something a little more “sexy,” something worth boasting about. The beets BĒT Vodka is made from are purchased and processed from American Crystal Sugar Company, a Moorhead, Minnesota cooperative. From there, the beets are distilled in New Richmond, WI at 45th Parallel Distillery.
As for the flavor, Ben encourages you to try it raw. He says unlike many other vodkas, BĒT doesn’t burn your head on the way down, but leaves you with a warm feeling in the chest. The name and the flavor aren’t the only things they’ve strived to keep uncomplicated. The BĒT Vodka bottle is as simple as the liquid it embraces. Ben told me the paper cover represents the leafy top of the sugar beet and even the cork is etched with inspiration from the plant.
Perhaps the most important part of their story is the pioneers BĒT pays tribute to. Their tagline, “share the pioneering spirit” has both a literal and figurative interpretation. The literal encourages the sipping experience and socialization. Deeper than that, it represents the people who sip it. Henry Oxnard was the 19th century pioneer who paved the way for Jerad and Ben. At the time, Oxnard invented a “modern” way to process sugar beets in the Midwest. The 21st century pioneers drew inspiration from him and made their own unique mark, with a vodka made from an uncommon ingredient. Who do Ben and Jared define as those pioneers? The people who, like them, are following their dreams and pouring out the extra hours on top of full time jobs to pursue their passions, the careers that make them prideful and the hobbies that bring happiness. BĒT Vodka is a sincere, simplified, and social toast to the pioneers of the past, present and future.
Holiday Recipes Ripe for Socializing:
3 oz. BĒT Vodka
3 to 4 Drops Orange Bitters
Stir and strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish with lemon peel.
2 oz BĒT Vodka
3/4 oz Cynar Amaro
3/4 oz French (Dry) Vermouth
Stir and strain over ice in a double old fashioned glass. Express and insert an orange peel.
2 oz BĒT Vodka
3/4 oz Espresso
3/4 oz Bailey’s Irish Cream
Build over ice in a double old fashioned glass, finish with Bailey’s.