Invictus Brewing Company is honoring Blaine Mayor Tom Ryan’s 34 years of City Council service with a special brew that will be poured in the taproom through most of November.
Ryan is retiring as mayor at the end of the year and will be succeeded by former state Rep. Tim Sanders.
Blaine Communications Manager Ben Hayle said a group of city staff members started speaking several months ago about how they could honor Ryan, who served 1987-1997 as a Blaine City Council member and as mayor ever since. Prior to becoming a Blaine City Council member, Ryan served on the Blaine Planning Commission.
“It was in one of those meetings that we started talking about if there were any local businesses who could honor Mayor Ryan, because the mayor has been such a supporter of the business community throughout his time serving the community of Blaine,” Hayle said.
The city then approached Previn Solberg, Invictus Brewing Company’s president and co-owner, to see if the Blaine brewery could create a special ale to honor Ryan.
The brew also pays tribute to Ryan for his service in the U.S. Army (1963-1966) and his work with veterans, including heavily supporting the construction of the Veterans Memorial Park of Blaine, located in Tom Ryan Park (formerly Town Square Park) in front of Blaine City Hall.
Nearly $1,500 of the ale’s proceeds will be donated to the Veterans Memorial Park of Blaine. The memorial park currently has Civil War and Purple Heart memorials, and many more memorials are planned.
“We were looking for a way to involve more than just city staff putting out recognitions for the mayor,” Hayle said. “We wanted to involve ... the business community, so we reached out to one of our businesses (Invictus Brewing Company) and said, ‘The mayor has been very supportive of your business, how can we honor him?’ So we came up with this idea of tying in two of the mayor’s biggest passions: Blaine businesses and veterans, brought the idea to Invictus, and they really ran with the idea of creating a beer, a name for the beer and a design for the label. We’re just so thankful that we found a unique way, under unique circumstances to still honor and recognize the mayor for his more than three decades of service to the community. It’s definitely a challenge during a pandemic to find ways to have community celebrations, so we had to think outside the box.”
Solberg said he immediately said yes to the idea because he wanted to help the Veterans Memorial Park of Blaine and honor Ryan, who supported the creation of Invictus, the city’s first brewery and taproom.
“We founded this brewery on the community, which has been extremely supportive of us through this whole COVID-19 pandemic, and we want to put money back into the community,” Solberg said. “We’re always looking for new things to do like this where the money goes back to an important cause in the community. I know they’ve been working real hard on the Veterans Memorial Park of Blaine for a long time, and I think the people they’re honoring deserve it, and we felt compelled to do our part.”
Solberg said he also respects the mayor and thinks he deserves recognition.
The special beer is an India Kolsch Ale that’s 6.1% alcohol by volume and 47 international bitterness units. Solberg describes the ale as a “hazy orange hue that’s big, bold and juicy with dank citrus fruits and hints of papaya.”
Invictus Head Brewer Paul Forrier brewed it on Oct. 2, and 100 cases were canned and packaged on Nov. 3. Ryan witnessed the process from start to finish. Fifteen barrels, or 630 gallons, were brewed.
“I like the beer,” Ryan said, after sampling the ale for the first time. “It’s very good!”
The ale is called “Freedom Fighters” in honor of Ryan’s military service as well as other veterans and service members and the Veterans Memorial Park of Blaine.
“Now I have a park, a dining hall and now a beer,” Ryan said, referencing Tom Ryan Park and the Mary Ann Young Center dining hall. “How much better can it get? This feels so great.”
Portions of the “Freedom Fighters” beer will be sent in kegs to restaurants and other businesses, and 100 cases will be sold by the brewery or at businesses. A few kegs will be poured in Invictus’ taproom in November while supplies last.
Invictus Brewing Company is at 2025 105th Ave. NE, Blaine. It’s open for dine-in and curbside pickup. For more information on the brewery and taproom, call 763-208-3063 or visit invictusbrewingco.com.
To learn more about the Veterans Memorial Park of Blaine, visit veteransparkofblaine.org.