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Scott Johnson, founder of St. Paul's family-run BlackStack Brewing, dies at 62

Updated: May 9

Entrepreneur Scott Johnson introduced people to new beer as an importer and then founder of BlackStack Brewing. 


An image of Blackstack's founder Scott Johnson
Besides loving great beer, Scott Johnson was also a huge music fan. A memorial service will be held May 4 at BlackStack.

Scott Johnson had long wanted to start a family business. When the so-called "Surly bill" became law in 2011, allowing craft breweries to open taprooms and serve their beers on-site, he saw his opportunity.


In 2017, Johnson and his family opened BlackStack Brewing with a taproom and event space in the American Can building in St. Paul's Midway-Hamline neighborhood.


City officials had considered razing the old canning factory, once used by companies including Hormel, Swift & Co. and Armour & Co. Then a California-based developer bought the building in 2013 and set about refurbishing and repurposing it.

Its looming, backlit smokestack was within view of the family's home in Prospect Park and proved the inspiration for the brewery's name.


The business was a family affair from the beginning, with Johnson's wife, Shawne Murphy-Johnson, responsible for business operations and their children Murphy, Cooper and Quinn handling a variety of roles.


Johnson died in his sleep in early April at age 62. It was sudden; his family said he hadn't been suffering from any illness.


"He was always a people person. I think part of what was really appealing about the taproom law was that it was public-facing," said Cooper Johnson, who had taken on a lot of the front-of-the-house responsibilities at BlackStack. He really thrived with hosting people every single day."


Besides loving great beer, Scott Johnson was also a huge music fan. A memorial service will be held May 4 at BlackStack.


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