A vodka, distilled entirely from sugar beets and created by a company co-founded by an Eastview High School graduate, will soon be on the shelves of Apple Valley municipal liquor stores.
Ben Brueshoff, a co-founder of BĒT (pronounced “beet) Vodka will be at Apple Valley Liquor Store 3, 5470 157th St. W. from 4-6 p.m. Saturday, July 20, for a tasting and kickoff event.
“Unlike standard vodka, it has a beautiful essence, a beautiful flavor you can enjoy in a glass,” Brueshoff said. “It has some nice vanilla pepper notes, a little sweetness on the nose with a really nice warming finish down your throat.”
Brueshoff, who resides in Bloomington with wife, Rochelle, attended Highland Elementary, Scott Highlands Middle School and Falcon Ridge Middle School before graduating from Eastview in Apple Valley in 2001. His parents still live in Apple Valley.
After high school he studied French and international management at Gustavus Adolphus College, then taught English in France. He also worked in sales and marketing for a few companies.
His career path changed in 2013 after he met Jerad Poling at an entrepreneurial event at Fulton Brewery. Poling had some distilling experience and Brueshoff was interested in selling a product of his own.
The friends discussed the craft beer movement but agreed the market was already saturated and decided to consider spirits. After doing more research, they learned that Minnesota is the largest grower of sugar beets in the country and looked into creating a sugar beet vodka.
“It ends up being a perfect crop for fermenting and distilling into an alcohol,” Brueshoff said.
They also became interested in the story of Henry Oxnard, an American entrepreneur who founded what is today American Crystal Sugar Co., an agricultural cooperative for sugar beet growers in the Red River Valley.
BĒT Vodka is made from beet sugar produced by American Crystal Sugar. The company even has a vintage 1951 Dodge pickup nicknamed “Henry” after Oxnard, which is used for customized BĒT travel bar pop-up experiences for personal and business events. The travel bar was launched last month, Brueshoff said.
According to BĒT Vodka’s website, the granulated beet sugar is “dissolved into water with nutrients, fermented for up to two weeks, distilled not less than three times, blended with filtered water and passed through active carbon to create a premium-pour.”
“Vodka is one that’s kind of misunderstood in a way. The stereotype of vodka is it’s odorless, it’s flavorless, it’s not something you really want to taste. It’s common place, people have had it, done it back in their younger years,” Brueshoff said. He added the drink can be enjoyed neat or on the rocks.
They started the first evolution of finding packaging and going through the process in 2014 and launched their product in 2016 in Minnesota. BĒT Vodka partnered with KNOCK Inc. in Minneapolis for its branding and contracted with the 45th Parallel distillery in New Richmond, Wisconsin, to make their product.
“To this day it’s a good partnership,” Brueshoff said.
Since the product’s launch, BĒT Vodka is now available in about 350 Minnesota liquor stores, including Lakeville Liquors, about a dozen liquor stores in North Dakota and western Wisconsin and about 50 bars and restaurants throughout the metro. It has won some packaging and design awards, Brueshoff said.
The company has also partnered with some hotels in the metro to have it in their rooms as part of the guest experience.
“The whole idea is to share the local story,” Brueshoff said.
Poling moved on from the company a few years ago to pursue other projects. Brueshoff and his wife now run the business.
“My wife and self, friends and family do vodka tastings at liquor stores. We’re keeping it grassroots,” he said.
Brueshoff said they are mainly focused on furthering the brand in the metro because “there’s so much room for growth and expansion in our own market place,” and not concerned with expanding further outside of Minnesota at this time.
The company wants its product to bring people together for a moment of connection, sharing and to have a “beautiful drink,” Brueshoff said.
“We want to really share the experience, share the product here where it resonates most in our own background, in our own community versus trying to find growth in different markets across the U.S.,” he said.
More information about BĒT Vodka can be found at betvodka.com.
Patty Dexter can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.