#8: The World of Craft Beer with Insight Brewing’s Ilan Klages-Mundt

Photo credit:  Sara Gove

Photo credit: Sara Gove

“There’s a taste revolution going on around the world right now, and everyone wants better.”

If you enjoy craft beer, then this episode is a must listen!

Ilan Klages-Mundt (@insightilan) is the co-founder/maestro of Insight Brewing, which occupies a 20,000 square foot facility and tap room in Minneapolis. Some of their well-known beers include Hell Chicken, Troll Way, Sunken City, Lambton Dragon, and Devil’s Companion.

During college, Ilan tasted a craft beer in Denmark that literally changed his life. The Belgium beer, named Westvleteren 12, was voted No. 1 on a Top 50 beer list, and Ilan had purchased two expensive bottles to sample. After his first sip, Ilan’s lip began to quiver because he had never tasted anything so good before. From then on he knew his calling was craft beer.  

Ilan read stacks of books about brewing and then traveled the world for a year working at different breweries in England, Japan, Denmark, and Belgium. He had pulled together $3,400 and bought a one-way ticket to England were he began at Fuller’s Brewery. With minimal funds, he traded his labor for food and a place to sleep at each location. The grunt work was difficult and exhausting but necessary for Ilan to understand every detail of the brewing process.

Upon his return to Minnesota, Ilan moved in with his aunt and began the daunting task of starting his own brewery. In spite of his passions, he lacked the business skills needed for such a costly endeavor, so he partnered with a few local business leaders who each provided a unique and complementary area of expertise. After nearly a year of raising capital, largely via small increments from friends and family, Insight Brewing became a reality in November of 2014.

His desire to share great tasting craft beer with the people of Minnesota is in full swing, and Ilan continues to collaborate with breweries around the globe.

I hope you enjoy our conversation!

Some topics mentioned and discussed:

  • Illan’s passion for music, specifically playing and teaching the cello
  • Insight Brewing’s plan to acquire a new 17,000 sq. ft. facility
  • Hilarious world travel stories
  • The idea of simplicity when it comes to brewing beer
  • Losing out on a $25,000 fellowship that he planned on using during his year of travel
  • Difficulties in raising capital and dealing with naysayers
  • Alcohol culture in the U.S. versus other nations
  • The effect prohibition had on local breweries
  • The state and national craft beer market
  • Parallels between the food and craft beer revolution


Ilan's favorites related to the twin cities:

1. Favorite Meal Under $15: Pizzeria Lola - Korean BBQ Pizza

2. Fascinating Person You Would Like to Have Dinner With: R.T. Rybak

3. Favorite Public Space: Minnehaha Park and Fort Snelling

4. State of the Union Message: "People have to be able to work together. We are so so so much more similar than we are different."