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Small brewery preparing to open on Main Street

A new face is coming soon to downtown River Falls.

Construction begins in October at 122 S. Main Street for what owner and founder Dustin Dodge hopes will become a gathering place for the people of River Falls. That’s where a nano-brewery by the name of Swinging Bridge Brewing Company will open for business.

Dodge is not native to River Falls, but hasn’t been able to tear himself away after attending school at UW River Falls four years ago. The appeal of the unique locality that kept him in the area was the same one that attracted him to opening a local business.

"River Falls is kind of a special community," said Dodge, originally from Spooner.

A need to give back to his adopted city was a huge part of why he decided to open a brewery in the first place.

Service is a part of Dodge’s life and this venture aligns itself to these current goals.

Dodge is a veteran of United States Air Force where he served for 11 years. Now Dodge is a part of the Minnesota National Guard as an aviator and also a member of the River Falls Fire Department.

He’s confidence about keeping those commitments while operating his new downtown brewery.

The idea for Swinging Bridge started last March. Dodge, looking for a business to start that he could be passionate about, decided on building a brewery. Particularly appealing was the potential of a brewery to bring people together.

"I feel like when I throw a pint of locally made beer across the counter, that's really a connection to the community you can't get any other way," said Dodge.

As for the name, it acts as an homage to the city that inspired the project itself. Swinging Bridge is also an historic pedestrian bridge at the end of West Cascade Avenue that connects to Glen Park.

"We wanted it definitely to be a name that local people attach to," said Dodge.

He added that he feels the name embodies the natural beauty, history, recreational aspects and communal nature of River Falls -- "It's kind of all wrapped into one."

The taproom itself, Dodge hopes, will evolve into a “comfy” place where everyone can feel welcome. Food will be served and people can connect.

Dodge also envisions an educational experience for patrons -- having knowledgeable staff able to answer guests questions about the beer they’re drinking and maybe even persuade them to try something new.

To start off, Dodge says he will focus on brewing ales due to their diverse flavor profiles and relative production ease compared to other types. Eventually though, he wants to branch out.

Supporting local breweries is another aspiration of Dodge’s. Guest taps from their neighbors he says will be another element in the taproom.

For the complete story, see the Sept. 29 print issue of the River Falls Journal.

Naomi N. Lugo

Naomi N. Lugo is a reporter for the Pierce County Herald and River Falls Journal.  Lugo's career as a journalist began in Honolulu while receiving her degree in journalism and page design from the University of Hawaii at Manoa. She has experience working as an editor, staff writer, photographer, page designer as well as many other facets under the realm of journalism. She is currently located in Minneapolis, Minn. 

More on Lugo can be found on her website NaomiNLugo.com

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