Laughing Sun Brewing Company
Mike Frohlich has been dreaming about owning a brewery since 1996. Like most of the people we highlight, someone with a dream, combined with drive, means it’s only a matter of time. In this case, the time came when Mike met Todd Sattler, a fellow enthusiast while seeing a mutual friend’s band in 2009.
With Mike having previously secured a used 3.5 bbl Specific Mechanical system he was well on his way to making his dream a reality, but he needed help to get across the finish line. After some enthusiastic conversations, the two men realized they shared the same dream and formed a partnership.
Mike spent the next three years as an activist lobbying with the local and State governments to ease self-distribution restrictions and establish policies for taproom licences. In 2012 Laughing Sun Brewery and Taproom was born, setting up shop in downtown Bismarck. With Todd in the role of Head of Operations, Mike took on the task of Head Brewer.
Part of Mike’s philosophy for both his brewery and his beer was to be locally sourced and present a taste of North Dakota. He wanted to be a thriving part of Bismarck and the surrounding area and give back to the community wherever possible.
They came up with the name Laughing Sun easily with Mike’s last name, Frohlich, being the German word for happy or joyful and “sun” something that doesn’t question, doesn’t judge, simply gives energy.
This is the kind of place that Mike wanted, somewhere people could come, relax, always feel welcome and enjoy a great drinking and dining experience.
The men worked tirelessly and after two short years had maximized the output capacity of the 3.5bbl system. They brewed many different styles and became popular suppliers to the local bars and of course their own taproom. Expansion plans were underway, but they wanted to make sure they secured just the right spot and in 2018, they found the perfect location on Front Street in downtown Bismarck.
Mike’s dream of a brewery truly came to life with this expansion, which is home to an award-winning BBQ themed restaurant, several axe-throwing alleys and one of the town’s most popular live music venues. The new location also features a brand new 3-vessel, 20bbl brewing system from Specific Mechanical. Mike says this is the perfect sized system to meet the current demand and allow for future expansion.
In 2020 Todd went on to other things leaving Mike at the helm. Since then, Laughing Sun has continued to shine brightly receiving awards for Best BBQ, Best Ribs, Best Brewery and most recently, Best Catering in their region of North Dakota.
Mike now sits as President of the North Dakota Brewers Guild and continues to be a driving force for the craft brewing industry. At Laughing Sun, with corporate party bookings for the amazing space, live music 4 nights a week, an increasing demand for their great tasting beer, the future’s so bright, you have to wear shades.