Mike Frohlich: Laughing Sun
“Pray to grandfather sky for everyone to be more like the sun. The sun doesn’t question, it doesn’t judge … and if we all just did that a little better, I think we would all have a better place to drink some beers.”
With a calming demeanor that’s almost bubbly when he chats with customers, self-proclaimed “hop head” Mike Frohlich seems to project the feeling of beer itself in his everyday attitude. “Happy” is literally built into his name - just look up the German meaning of "Frohlich". So maybe it’s not a surprise that when you walk through the doors of Laughing Sun Brewery you get a feeling of someone opening up their arms to say hello (On the slim chance someone doesn’t do that already).
“We have created a community,” Frohlich says. “If I’m behind the bar, there’s likely a chance that I’m going to know your name or I’ve seen you before. Either way, I like to say hello when you come in. That sense of community makes people feel like they are a part of something.”
Since the days they were located in downtown Bismarck, to their new location on Front Avenue, their space that has become a music hotspot, a showcase for local artists and a top North Dakota brewing destination for locals and tourists alike. You can also work up an appetite axe-throwing on their outdoor patio and then treat yourself to some of the best BBQ you can find in Bismarck-Mandan.
“It’s more than selling you a glass of beer over the bar,” Frohlich said. “I know my Fed-Ex truck driver, I know the people that deliver my malt and hops and things. Ninety-five percent of our malt comes from North Dakota.”
That isn't all the Laughing Sun does to support its community either. Spent grain is sent to feed chickens for the local food co-op, from where Laughing Sun gets berries and fruit by local growers. They've strived to use 100% certified wind power from a wind farm north of Baldwin. Even the canvases and paintings on the walls of this small brewery are an effort to support locals who create them. All of these reasons are why Frohlich can be found brewing beers at 3 a.m. and still finding the energy to come and chat with customers in the evening about their creative concoctions, like his personal favorite “Feast Like a Sultan” or the chocolate and chokecherry malt “19th Amendment” in honor of female craft beer supporters.
“We just create a space. It’s all about the people that come in here and give it energy,” Frohlich says, “So, kudos to them for making this a place where people feel welcome.”
Frohlich’s #1 recommended activity in North Dakota: Watching sunrise at Double Ditch Indian Village