Monday, July 8, 2013

Surly's New Temporary Taproom

Surly, the driving force behind getting laws changed to allow taprooms in Minnesota, now has a temporary one of their own. I note temporary because as many of you know they are in the process of pulling together a massive new destination brewery in Minneapolis that promises to be world class. Many people have been out to their building in Brooklyn Center for a tour of the brewery or a release event. Now they have regular hours to grab a pint and often some grub from a food truck on Wednesday through Friday 3:00 to 9:00 and Saturday noon to 9.

I went with a buddy to check this place out on opening weekend which also happened to be the week when the Twin Cities were hit with horrible storms that created one of the worst power outages in history. What better way to spend a few hours of not having power than to check this place out? I showed up an hour after the taproom opened in the aftermath of trees down everywhere and was the first customer of the day. After hanging out for a few hours the place filled in nicely, even though by design they hadn't advertised or promoted the opening much to keep crowds manageable while they got accustomed to the new set up.

 The first thing I noticed walking in was that the main room had been outfitted with some classy looking industrial tables, fixtures, and chairs with a very large TV mounted on the far wall. The bar area was mostly the same with a new magnetic board that noted what beers were available with what looked like large magnets that had the beers' logos on them. There was Smoke, Schadenfreude, and Diminished Seviin on tap as well as all the year-round and current seasonal offerings. Since I follow them on Twitter (@SurlyTap) I was able to find out that they have some plans to put some very fun beers on coming up including a Brett IPA collaboration with Three Floyds. Last weekend Cocoa Bender was on tap. This is definitely a must see spot. I will be back soon. 


Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Time For Some Homebrewing: Mosiac Nelson IPA

I haven't made much time for brewing lately, but last weekend I decided enough is enough. There is something oddly relaxing about making beer and the creative process for me so after a three month hiatus it was finally time to make something tasty. My sister and I who brew together have the same idea of liking citrusy hop flavor and aroma in our hoppy beers so designing a recipe together with a unique hop profile was fun and easy. Initially we were shooting for a Galaxy Mosiac hoppy Pale Ale, but when Galaxy was out at the store, Nelson seemed like a fun alternative. Firstworldhomebrewproblems.jpg.

I want to expound on something before I list the recipe we used and note how the process went. It seems there is a very flawed idea of balance and using dark roasted malts in hoppy beers to achieve this concept of sweet/bitter balance that is pleasing. This idea completely discounts the tools of adjusting hop bitterness, perception of malt thickness, carbonation level and a wide range of other tools in a brewers toolbox to create a beer that has harmony. I get frustrated with the brewing shortcut or idea of highly kilned specialty malts being one of the only tools to keep hop character and bitterness in check when brewing. 

On to the recipe!

Ready for the boil

Single infusion batch sparge @ 151

Water adjusted slightly with gypsum to achieve around 250 sulfate content with all other ions and pH in balance and at acceptable levels. (gypsum, calcium chloride, potassium metabisulfite)
Bru'n Water is awesome.

14 lbs. 2-Row
.75 lbs. C20
0.5 oz of Warrior @ 60 min
1 oz. of Mosiac @ 15 min
2 oz. of Nelson @ 10 min
1 oz. Mosiac @ 5 min
2 oz. Mosiac @ 0 min
1 oz. Nelson @ 0 min

2 oz. Nelson dry hop for 5 days
1 oz Mosiac dry hop for 5 days

Pitched 2 packs of Wyeast 1056 @ 60 degrees.

Prepping to recirculate

Brew day went well. We slightly overshot our gravity because of dialing in our water needed calculations a bit better than usual. No major mishaps.

Happy fermentation

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Visiting 612 Brew

I still remember about five years ago when 612 Brew announced themselves on Twitter and I was so excited to finally have a brewery in Minneapolis where I live. Well it's been a few years and many Minneapolis brewery openings between now and then but 612 has arrived with a beautiful brewery and tap room in the heart of Northeast Minneapolis, an area that is quickly becoming a brewery haven.

Judging by their space and design when we walked into the brewery it was well worth the wait. Wooden tables with cozy looking leather seats are laid out nicely across a large space adjacent to the bar. Another feature is the high resting counter area that spans most of the room and is perfect for resting a beer on while you stand and talk. I'm really digging the large fermenters that are sitting out in the open a mere twenty feet from the sitting area. It's wide open with no glass or walls.

After being extremely impressed with the layout of the place it was time to order some beers. I ended up ordering the Rated R which is a Rye IPA of sorts, one of my favorite styles. I thought the Rated R was rye forward with a nice citrus hop character. The malt and hops played well together while I didn't find it very bitter for an 80 IBU beer. I capped off the trip by sipping on some Zero Hour their hoppy Black Ale. This one was crisp and light for the style with a similar citrus hop flavor to the Rated R. A bit of resin flavor going on as well. I noticed a ginger lager on tap as well that I didn't get to try but it's cool to see them doing some interesting beers right out of the gate. Overall there is now another very cool spot to check out on the ever growing list of beer places to visit.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Bad Weather Brewing Launch

Brewery launch events are always exciting especially when they are for a friend's brewery that you have watched up close be in the works for the last year. I have had the pleasure of tasting a good amount of pilot batches of recipes and I knew coming into the launch party to expect unique and well made beer right out of the gate.

Bad Weather is operating as an alternating proprietorship with Badger Hill and Lucid in Minnetonka. Their first two brews are Windvane, a hoppy year-round Red Ale, along with Ominous, a seasonal unique take on an Imperial Brown Ale. After tasting both at the launch party I am really happy to say that Joe and Zach, the co-founders are making dialed in and tasty beer right away. Not an easy task for a start up brewery. These guys were smart enough to get experience brewing on their system before venturing into their own commercial batches and it shows.

For now Bad Weather is planning on kegs only going just to bars and restaurants, with plans to expand to selling bottles later in the year. At the launch party I was able to sip on some of their Ominous that had coffee added in a cask while catching up with former co-workers in a packed crowd. It was close between this and the non-cask Windvane as to which one I liked the most. Windvane had a really nice citrusy and pine hop character while being dry and crisp despite the malt character. Ominous with coffee was coffee forward, but without overwhelming the chocolate and dark fruit flavor from the base beer. Both really stood out as well done.

We can expect more creativity from Bad Weather coming in the future as they plan their seasonal lineup around weather patterns and unique ingredients like rose hips. I even got a little preview of the art for their next seasonal called Migration. Pretty cool, right?

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Sour Saison Blend Tasting

After a busy last few weeks, I'm really happy to make some time today to sit down and do some blogging. I've had this Motueka Pacifica Saison that I blended with a amber colored lamic that was brewed ten months ago on an aggressive sour yeast cake that was grown up from Petrus Aged Pale dregs hanging out in a keg for a few weeks now and have been sipping on it periodically.

I ended up using a 2/3 base Saison to 1/3 amber sour beer ratio for the five gallons and carbed to around 2.8 volumes of Co2.

Appearance - Pours out a slightly hazy dark golden color into a wine glass. A wisp of off white head is there and quickly goes away even with a strong pour down the middle of the glass.

Smell - Lots of earthy funk notes with a noticeable lemon vibe. Grain bread character with a slight fruity hop character are noticeable. Odd mix of aromas that I like but am not in love with.

Taste - There is a sharp lactic bite up front that gives way to a white bread and peper spice. Funk and slight papery oxidation flavors are there on the finish.

Mouthfeel - Pretty thin, but not completely dry, carbonation could be a bit more lively.

Overall - Refreshing, but not refined. Would blend even less of the sour beer next time to keep more base beer character. Coriander didn't seem to work well with the wild yeast either. Happy with this blend though. Really cool occasional sipper.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Town Hall Barrel Aged Week

I missed getting to try some Town Hall Manhattan this year by about an hour. This new barrel aged creation is a mix of barrel aging and cherries designed to mimic the flavors of the Manhattan mixed drink. I did get to try some Double Barrel Frost and Twisted Trace. Town Hall Barrel Aged week is one of my favorite beer weeks of the year mostly because it produces some of the tastiest beers in Minnesota while still flying under the radar to much of the beer public. I felt weird sitting there drinking a few pints of barrel aged goodness on Thursday night while looking around to see the place only two thirds full. Don't people know how good these beers are?

If you are reading this before Sunday, February 23th I would definitely get over there as almost all of the limited beers are still available and if you go during non peak hours it is not all that crowded. The two beers I tried were their Barleywine aged in Buffalo Trace barrels. This was served very cold, and showcased only a slight whiskey character and caramel malt right away, but as it warmed I got complex vanilla, oak, and light grainy characters from this sipper. The Double Barrel Frost that I had second I made sure to let warm up for a bit before sipping on. I got a decent roasted malt character, a lot of whiskey barrel notes and just the slightest wine like acidity on the end that hinted at wine barrels. Unique and complex for sure. Now if only I had time to get back over there to try Czar Jack this weekend.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Republic Uptown

The space that Republic Uptown moved into in my neighborhood is one of the cooler spots in Calhoun Square. There are big windows and it's in a spacious upstairs location with a big old bar already built in. The former business, The Independent, always had a workable modern vibe to it and a killer happy hour. What could go wrong if you add in great beer and open the place up a little bit? After a few months of meaning to check this place out I finally made the effort to go check the relatively new place out on a rare day off.

It was nice to see bright sunlight a shining in and a big, old, wooden bar waiting for me right as I walked in. Right away I was able to pick out some fun tap handles from Deschutes, Sierra Nevada, and Surly. I took a look at the beer menu and noticed some pretty solid choices. There were a few Steel Toe Taps (not always easy to find bonus), Sierra Nevada Narwhal, Deschutes Hop Henge and a few solid imports mixed in. The list seemed like a well put together lineup of brews. There was also a giant chalkboard with specials and beers listed in large writing. Nice to know that beer was the entire focus going on here.

I ended up ordering a Steel Toe Size 7 for my first beer which was noticeably super fresh with a huge piney hop aroma. I capped off the trip with a Sierra Nevada Narwhal and was happy to have some more of this tasty hoppy Imperial Stout one last time this year as bottles have dried up from liquor stores a few months ago. This might be my new go to bar with my apartment only four blocks away. Nice to see a big selection and a well chosen tap list. There is a big event coming up here the first or second week in March that I cannot wait to go to and blog about. Stay tuned!