Welcome to Curious Conversations, where we get to know business leaders and hear about their perspectives on all things growth, innovation and life.
In our latest installment, Bold Orange CEO Margaret Murphy sits down with friend and client Phil Steger from Brother Justus Whiskey Company. Located in North East, Minneapolis, Brother Justus opened in 2021 and has established itself as the premier Whiskey Distillery in the state. Coming off of several big honors and awards, we sat down with Phil to learn more about the history of Brother Justus, Phil’s impressive career and his advice for those looking to take on a new chapter.
Phil Steger, Founder & CEO, Brother Justus Whiskey Company
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About Phil Steger
For Phil Steger, creating whiskey and building a distillery has always been about more than a flashy bottle and and an incredible product—it’s about conviction, belief, and possibility. His awe-filled experiences of farmlands, prairies, and trudging through bogs cultivated deep curiosity and reverence for Minnesota’s land and what it produces. Under Steger’s direction, the company has invented new methods of creating whiskey, created the first unaged single malt whiskey in the world, challenged industry norms to produce whiskey faster, and successfully raised enough money from investors to build and open a distillery during a pandemic.
Steger earned his law degree from the University of St. Thomas and worked (as a lawyer) helping companies diversify and decarbonize the energy supply and represented asylum seekers from Syria and Iraq after working for some of Minnesota’s most admired judges. He earned his bachelor’s degree from St. John’s University.
About Brother Justus Whiskey Company
Brother Justus was a Benedictine monk who lived in Central Minnesota during Prohibition and The Farm Depression of the 1920s. He encouraged local farmers to ignore the rule of the state and obey God’s instead. Because no earthly power could take away their right to make a living from their labor and the fruit of the land.
He taught them that, sure, moonshining was illegal, but by no means was it immoral. That good whiskey—honorably made—was a blessing. His copper stills, and commitment to teaching the craft, lifted families out of poverty and made Minnesota whiskey world-famous. We’re here to be that sort of brother to others.