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Minnesota’s first Black-woman-owned brewery sets its sights on Rondo

A woman in orange pants and a gray shirt leans over a keg with a hose attached to it. She is surrounded by several other kegs and there are two rows of large silver brewing vats behind her.
Brittney Mikell packages finished beer into kegs at La Dona Cerveceria, where she currently works as the assistant brewer. (Photo credit: Dalono Romano)

Minnesota’s first Black-woman-owned brewery, Bubble Line Brewing Company (BLBC), aims to make its home in Saint Paul’s historic Rondo neighborhood. 

Founder of Bubble Line Brewing Company Brittney Mikell says BLBC will not be a typical brewery.  She says the greenhouse themed brewery will put dollars back into the historically Black neighborhood by prioritizing the hiring of Rondo residents, offering apprenticeships to brewers of color, and hosting community events. 

“I foresee it being a really beautiful refuge for the community,” said Mikell.

Mikell majored in chemistry in college. She says the brewery’s name, “Bubble Line,” refers to the chemical process of liquid boiling. 

“When people think of a liquid boiling, it seems like a very simple process, but it's actually quite complex. And so that's kind of how I feel about the brewery,” says Mikell. “Opening a brewery feels like a very simple thing. But ultimately, this is going to serve the community in so many complex ways that can't be seen by the naked eye. And so it's really a connection to that.”

A pint of beer sits on a table in front of a stack of books. Among them is a book by Octavia Butler. a book on brewing, and a Lonely Planet guide to California.
Brittney Mikell's home office

Mikell says the name isn’t just about the chemical process itself, though. She says the name is a nod to her former Carleton College professor, who helped her turn around her college education. Mikell says when she was struggling to perform well, her former chemistry professor sat her down one day and committed to supporting her through one-on-one tailored mentorship. One of their lessons was accomplishing the process of liquid boiling.

“I didn't know how to study. I didn't really understand how to learn,” said Mikell. “She really helped me through undergrad. And ultimately, I came out and got a doctorate and my grades were great. And I figured out how to study and I really feel like I reached my academic potential. And I feel like, in part, I owe that to her as well.”

Mikell was raised on the South Side of Chicago before moving to Minnesota. She says this inspired her to locate the brewery in Saint Paul’s historically Black neighborhood - Rondo - which reminds her of home.

“Rondo ended up being the perfect place. For me, It's an opportunity for me to build in this area where there's so much historical relevance to being Black and proud, and kind of pushing back against the redlining that this area has experienced,” said Mikell.

“As a kid, I didn't get to contribute to that space in the way that I wanted to. I saw a lot of wrongs happening. I mean, not too long ago, there were like 60 something Public Schools shut down in Chicago. Most on the South Side. Most serving young Black and brown kids. And I couldn't do anything about that at that time…and that always weighed heavy on me. And so I think that living here [in Rondo] now and kind of seeing similar patterns, it means a lot to me to be able to actually stand up and say, all right, I'm going to take responsibility for this. I have the wherewithal. I have the ability to do so. So I'm going to do it.”

Mikell says BLBC has partnered with the Rondo Community Land Trust  to scope out the perfect location for the brewery.

“They know what's needed. They have a real pulse on the community. And they know the people here and have a deep cultural knowledge of the space. So I feel super lucky to work with them,” said Mikell.

BLBC recently ran its first crowdfund, requesting $20,000. Mikell says she surpassed the goal in just 6 days.

“It gave me a proof of concept, to show that this is something that people want and people need and are excited about,” she said. 

Now Mikell is working on a new campaign with a goal of $$500,000. She says the money will go toward purchasing equipment, designing the greenhouse storefront, and investing in sustainable brewing practices. She says for her, BLBC goes beyond her love for beer science. She says it is about creating a space for belonging. 

With a proposed beverage line-up of lagers, IPA’s, non-alcoholic beverages and espresso, it seems BLBC will offer an opportunity for anyone to come in and enjoy the atmosphere over a drink.

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