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Craft Beer Company 'Brews' War Against Invasive Species

Big Island Shandy is one of the most popular beers of the summer, and profits help fight invasive species in state's lakes and rivers.

A war is “brewing” to eradicate invasive species from Minnesota’s lakes and rivers. Lake enthusiast Jason Landstrom fired the first shot by helping found the Tonka Beer Company.

The craft beer company donates 100 percent of profits to help prevent the spread of invasive species in Minnesota. The goal is to donate at least $10,000 this year, and twice that amount next year.

“We like to say our craft beers are the only hops fierce enough to kill carp, zap zebra mussels and choke milfoil,” said Landstrom, a founder of Tonka Beer Co. “The reality is invasive species are no joking matter. They pose a serious threat to the health of our lakes and rivers in Minnesota and around the nation.” 

The company’s unfiltered premium ale, Big Island Shandy, debuted in May. The refreshing, flavorful brew is available at participating liquor stores and restaurants throughout Minnesota. It’s also featured for sale in the stadium during St. Paul Saints games.

Next on the market will be Preservation IPA, which is scheduled for release in late August. Preservation IPA will offer a full malt flavor, light body and fresh hoppy bite. The golden India pale ale will be available year-round.

A number of invasive species are threatening to spread further in Minnesota’s waterways, which include 15,000 lakes, thousands of miles of rivers and streams, and acres of wetlands. Aquatic invasive species include nonnative plants, animals and pathogens that live primarily in water and thrive in a new environment. Their introduction adversely affects the habitat and bioregion they invade, causing economic, environmental and ecological damage.

Along with Tonka Beer Company, many organizations at the private, municipal, state and federal levels are fighting the spread of invasive species. But the problem far outpaces these efforts according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

Which is why Landstrom decided to take action. The Minnetonka High School alum founded Tonka Beer Company with fellow alum Chad Mayes, and Ryan Johnson. All three statenatives grew up taking advantage of recreation on lakes and rivers throughout Minnesota.

“Swimming, fishing, ice hockey, water skiing, rock skipping, boating, lying on the beach – you name it, we looked forward to it as kids, and still do,” Landstrom said. “We grew up able to enjoy Minnesota’s natural wonders. These precious resources make up some of our fondest memories. We want to do whatever we can to help make sure others can have the same experiences. So we started our beer company. Enjoy a beer – save a lake. It’s a win-win.”

Profits from Big Island Shandy and Preservation IPA go directly to the Save-Our-Lakes organization, a nonprofit formed to raise awareness and fund initiatives to fight invasive species. The nonprofit organization accepts private donations and corporate sponsorships.

Where you can find Big Island Shandy and future Tonka Beer Company brews:

Plymouth:

  • Haskells Liquor
  • Plymouth Liquor Store

Minnetonka:

  • Stong Liquor

Tonka Bay:

Wayzata:

  • Tonka Bottle Shop

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