Category: Beer Ingredients

Fair State and Askov Finlayson team up against Climate Change

Fair State Brewing and Askov Finlayson have teamed up in the fight against climate change with a beer they are calling Keep the North Cold. Askov Finlayson is an apparel company that is known for their commitment to the environment through their “Give 110%” business model.

“Celebrating the North means protecting it, too,” said Askov Finlayson VP of Environmental Impact & Policy Adam Fetcher. “Conventional farming is a big contributor to climate change, which threatens our winters and our best outdoor traditions. We’re proud to support scientists and advocates working to create a future where perennial crops fill our fields and our planet can stay healthy. And partnering with our forward-thinking friends at Fair State has been a blast.”

This Golden Ale utilizes locally grown Kernza (from various farms across Minnesota) which is a perennial grain that produces a large root system up to 10 feet deep in the soil. This root system absorbs a ton of carbon and is known to feed large populations of people where it’s grown around the globe. The Cascade and Chinook hops that were used to make this beer were grown locally at Mighty Axe Farms up in Foley, Minnesota.

The beer itself is a lawnmower beer featuring a light body and earthy undertones from the Kernza. This would make for a great fishing beer or out in the backyard by the grill with friends. Pair it up with some grilled halibut and a citrus salad on a warm summer day. You won’t regret that decision…

Brew Day at Surly: $pice Boyz Lager Beer Camp Collaboration with Sierra Nevada

Last Friday I had a rare opportunity to spend the day at Surly for a brew day with Michael Palmer from Sierra Nevada for their Beer Camp collaboration. The beer is called $pice Boyz, a lager infused with ginger and cayenne—aged on oak, and appearing on tap at the Surly Beer Hall. The Sierra Nevada version was brewed a couple months ago and will be released in the Beer Camp 12 pack. Their version was simply named Ginger Lager.

“All three of us came up with the idea for this beer” says Surly co-head brewer Jerrod Johnson. “We wanted to make a beer that would age well. We figured all the other folks would be making bigger beers, and we wanted to make something more sessionable.”

Ben Smith is the other co-head brewer at Surly and he was excited to work with Sierra Nevada on this project. “Their [Sierra Nevada] hospitality is second to none. Everyone there is a professional, and it was cool to see” says Smith. We wanna be stewards of the industry and it was a great experience.” He reiterated what Jerrod said about wanting to make something that was easy to drink. “We made some assumptions about what the others were going to do. They were doing sippers. Let’s make something simple but unique.” Jerrod and I have always wanted to do a ginger beer.”

How did this all come together? Well, it started when I ran into Michael, Jerrod, Ben, and Josh Lemke (brewer at Surly) at Grumpy’s in Northeast last Thursday evening. They suggested that I come in for a brew day at the Brooklyn Center Brewery. You don’t pass up an opportunity to brew with two of the best breweries out there.

The brew day began with a Red Bull courtesy of Josh. He mashed in while Ben and Jerrod held a meeting in back. Mike joined Josh and I on the brew deck and performed the ceremonial adding of the hops.

Ben and Jerrod joined in while we chatted about brewing and all the fun new beers that Surly has coming. Ben, Michael, and I sampled some of those beers to see how they were coming along.

Then it was back to the brew deck where we checked in on the boil. Josh was busy monitoring the progress of the batch. I chatted with Jerrod before he had to skip over to Surly MSP for a meeting.

Ben and I then bellied up in the old taproom and talked about Sierra Nevada, the collaboration beer, and life in general. He tells me that the Surly version of the beer will be a taproom only release starting in June and that the SN version will be included in the Beer Camp 12 pack, also in June.

Back out in the brewery Josh was manning the kettle and also took some time to change up the music in the brewery. Heavy metal would be the music of choice. Ben joined him on the deck to perform another hop addition while I was “busy” SnapChatting the process.

The crew then broke for lunch and that’s where my day there ended. The experience was fantastic, and the Surly brewing team is group of true professionals that know exactly what they’re doing. It almost seemed too easy. I guess that’s what you’d expect from one of the most respected breweries here in the country.

One thing is certain, you’re gonna want to stop in at the Surly Beer Hall in June for the $pice Boyz release. Just make sure you don’t break out in full Spice Girl mode….That would just be awkward.


Northern Lights Rare Beer Fest Announces Breweries and Ticket Sales

Mark Opdahl and Juno Choi of Chop Liver Inc. decided four years ago that the Twin Cities needed a rare beer festival. Something similar to the Firestone Walker Invitational, Denver Rare Beer Fest, and the Festival of Barrel Aged Beers. Their solution was a rare beer festival held at the beautiful Minnesota Historical Society called Northern Lights Rare Beer Fest. “We wanted to take those ideas, hand select the breweries, and give the beer community what they want” says Opdahl.

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The breweries (30 in total) are a mix of local and national, which provide a nice variety of beers that are hard for Minnesotans to get their hands on. “We’re pretty lucky too” says Opdahl. “It’s a testament that they want to have some of their beers up against the best in the country. It really shows that they appreciate what we do the rest of the year with Chop Liver Inc. events.” This event is also rare in that food is included in the cost of the ticket ($100 with a portion of the proceeds going to Pints for Prostates) and is often better than you’ll find at other beer events around town. “It’s not just deli sandwiches and potato chips” he says laughing. For example, last year they served pork belly sliders, beer cheese soup, along with all sorts of snacks.

Northern Lights Rare Beer Fest

Another thing that sets this event apart from others is the venue. The Minnesota Historical Society hosted Winterfest for years before they outgrew the space with so many new local breweries. “The venue is really what makes this event what it is” he proclaims. “Marble top to bottom, and a view of the capitol from the 3rd floor. We only sell 750 of these tickets so it’s easy to get around. If you spend this kind of money, you should be able to move around.” So how do they get so many of these breweries on board? Experience. They had been running beer events for 6 years before the first Northern Lights Rare Beer Fest giving them the opportunity to meet representatives from many of these breweries. The other co-founder Juno Choi has been working at Brewers Supply Group for years where he’s built relationships with some of the most notable people in the industry.

Northern Lights Rare Beer Fest

This year’s event will take place on March 11th with tickets going on sale this Friday at 10 AM, just in time for the holidays. The festival provides attendees the chance to try a lot of these beers without committing to full bottles and long lines outside of liquor stores. “Its a great opportunity to try unique beers that are often not found in stores. If you go into a normal bar and pay for a single flight, you’re already at $15” states Opdahl.


All in all this is one of the best beer festivals held here in Minnesota, and a ticket to this event is a great gift idea for those who seek out hard to find beers.

So which breweries are gonna be there? We at are proud to announce the brewery lineup which can be found below:

unnamedAugust Schell Brewing Company (2015 winner)
Avery Brewing Company
Ballast Point Brewing Company
Bells Brewery
Bemidji Brewing Company
Bent Paddle Brewing Company
Boulevard Brewing Company
Central Waters Brewing Company
Dark Horse Brewing Company
Deschutes Brewery
Elysian Brewing Company
Fargo Brewing Company
Fitgers Brewhouse (2016 winner)
Forager Brewing Company
Fulton Brewery
Goose Island Beer Company
Grand Teton Brewing Company (2014 winner)
Great Divide Brewing Company
Great Lakes Brewing Company
Indeed Brewing Company
Lagunitas Brewing Company
Left Hand Brewing Company
Lift Bridge Brewing Company
Minneapolis Town Hall Brewery
Oskar Blues Brewery
Steel Toe Brewing Company
Stone Brewing Company
Surly Brewing Company
The Bruery
Toppling Goliath Brewing Company


Insight Dedicates a Day to the Saison

Insight co-founder and head brewer llan Klages-Mundt is a very interesting guy. Spend five minutes with him and you’ll gather that he’s big on doing things the right way. In fact, he’s spent plenty of time over in Europe seeing how they do things in countries such as England, Denmark, France, and Belgium. So it’s no surprise that he’s a fan of making beers rooted in those regions. “Every time you go somewhere, you know you’re going to take something back with you. You don’t always know what that is” says Ilan.

It’s no coincidence that he’s a fan of the Saison which was originally a farmhouse style beer brewed during the winter months in the Belgian countryside. “I like that guidelines for the style are so wide. It’s like the Sauvignon Blanc of beer. You can sour them, or add fruit and spices” he says.

This year Insight is dedicating an entire day to it. The date is Saturday, July 30th from noon until 10 pm at the brewery. The plan is to release and showcase their stellar iteration of the Saison style they call Doe Eyes. This ruby red colored beer is packed with cherries and is refreshingly tart with a dry finish. This is always one of their most popular beers at festivals and with good reason — it’s one of the best made fruit beers in town. He tells us that there are about 1 lb of cherries in a pint. In fact they sourced about 15,000 lbs for the entire batch.

Also being featured at the event will be a Blackberry Saison (Lost Satyr) and Raspberry Saison (Frugivorous) to go along with a list of cask releases. Bottles (750 ml) of Doe Eyes, Lost Satyr, and Frugivorous will be on sale for $15 each with a limit of 6 total. Casks will be released as listed below:

2:00 – Cucumber Saison
4:00 – Pineapple Saison
6:00 – Juniper Citrus Saison


You can also expect a list of local 90s tribute bands:

1pm Lithium (Nirvana)
3pm Trompe le Monde (Pixies)
5pm Muzzle – A Tribute to Smashing Pumpkins
7pm Pleezer (Weezer)
9pm Alive-Tribute to Pearl Jam

Food trucks on site include:

El Taco Riendo, Peeps Hot Box, and O’Neil’s Cheese Curds.
Basically if you’re a fan of beer, you should swing in and find out what Ilan has learned since his trip to Belgium. For as Ilan says “You can never learn enough.”


BSG’s Brand New Distribution Center in Shakopee

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Big things in beer are happening in Shakopee, Minnesota. Brewers Supply Group recently opened a new 80,000 square-foot distribution center across the street from Rahr Malting. The new facility will replace the former warehouse in Kasota, serving BSG’s brewery customers across the country.

The new distribution center is part of a large expansion project undertaken by BSG and its parent company, Rahr Corporation. The expansion also includes a new malthouse as well as a 20,000 square-foot technical center housing a pilot brewery, micro-malting facility and expanded malt quality control lab. More on those updates as they come online.

The new warehouse is, in my humble opinion, pretty rad. It features increased cold storage for hops and other perishable ingredients as well as state-of-the-art technology for malt packaging. They’ve added a new bagger that can fill twenty 50-pound bags per minute and perhaps my favorite thing, a robotic palletizer.

Full not-that-it-should-really-matter disclosure: I worked for Brewers Supply Group for about 7 months before relocating and loved it. I’m a little enamored with the place, the people and the malt.