Dan Schwarz

Wouldn’t it be great to start a brewery? Dan Schwarz ’97 and some of his neighbors thought so. Four years after an idle conversation, Schwarz is a partner and CEO in Lift Bridge Brewery in Stillwater, Minn.

The idea began as backyard chatter among five neighbors, Schwarz says.

“We were talking about how we would like to have a brewery, and we decided to get together and brew,” he says.

They began with recipe development; next came recipe refinement. Then there were the business and licensing details. They produced the company’s first keg in 2008.

Now Schwarz has two careers. He kept his day job in computer science to pay the bills. It helps that he works at home, he says. When he takes a break, he can spend time with his children – Alex, 10; Jacob, 8; and Matthew, 5 – and his wife, Katie (Macy) Schwarz, a ’97 CSB alumna and hall of fame diver at CSB.

As CEO, Schwarz will have greater interaction with other businesses as the company builds its distribution. That’s the easy part.

“Selling beer is the easiest job in the world,” Schwarz says. He walks into an establishment, offers the manager a sample and lets the beer sell itself.

For Schwarz and his partners, it is important to associate their beer with a place. Thus, they named their brewery for a distinctive landmark in Stillwater. The name helps establish their company within the community, and lends itself to visual marketing opportunities.

The brewery had one other marketing advantage. Schwarz’s brother, Steve is a CSB/SJU adjunct assistant professor in management and an adviser to the marketing club. The club prepared a full marketing plan for the company.

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