18 Dec Local Spotlight: Aaron Thompson
What do snowboarding and brewing have in common? Very little actually, and yet Aaron Thompson has managed to master both skills.
Growing up near the Turtle Mountains in Bottineau provided him with many opportunities to master a winter sport. Thompson originally grew up skiing and first jumped on a snowboard at the young age of 13. From there, he continued the hobby through college and often went on trips with friends. These winter excursions in college soon became more than a hobby.
In fact, Aaron was a professional snowboarder in the late 1990’s and competed for two years. While this might seem like a short time, snowboarding careers don’t last long. He has also been an instructor at multiple resorts including Colorado, New York and even abroad in Europe, Australia and Norway. At Lake Tahoe, he was considered a shop rider; in New York, he was a snowboard school director; and in Vail, he held the highest status of trainer possible. These different positions all boil down to one thing, Aaron Thompson is a skilled snowboarder.
He followed the snow for many years but eventually landed back in North Dakota. While visiting family over the holidays, Aaron unexpectedly met up with an old classmate. This accidental meet-up turned into his reason for staying. This classmate is now his wife and they have since started a family.
He moved back in 2009 and has lived in Minot ever since. Thompson began bartending but he soon recognized a need in Minot. Shortly after the flood, oil was booming and there were still no breweries in the city. He created Souris River Brewing which opened in 2012 in downtown Minot. Now, you might think, how do you jump from snowboarding to brewing beer?
Aaron had experienced much more than just snowboarding during his many trips. While traveling, he was able to experience flavors across the globe. Craft beer was becoming popular in other areas including Oregon in the early 2000’s. Europe had a large brewing scene and this allowed Thompson to experience the market before bringing it back to North Dakota.
Souris River Brewing focuses on local: local hops, local food, and local values. Why the emphasis on local? Aaron Thompson believes that the focus on local supports our community and overall helps better our lives. This ‘local culture’ is popular across the state as we strengthen our communities. North Dakota has a lot of resources that can be sourced locally. For Souris River Brewing, local hops and meat are used to build this home-grown style brewery. SRB attempts to use the full potential of the animal, whether that be cow, bison, elk or walleye. Many dishes on the menu incorporate these local animals such as the Dakota Burger which is made of bison. Other classics from SRB include the Buffalo Blue Burger, Norwegian Fish, and the SRB Elk Chili.
As for the brewing part of the business, the Bakken Brown Ale has been popular since the beginning. Other fan favorites include the Prairie Rose Light and the Turtle Mountain Sour. Aaron even began canning some brews from SRB and selling them locally. This started around 9 months ago and they hope to expand the canning in the future.
For information on Souris River Brewing visit our website at http://visitminot.org/dine/souris-river-brewing/