Category: Features

Six Pack: Sisyphus Brewing Co.

Sisyphus_Gray_PrimaryAs I polish off this beer…er post, we find ourselves less than 24 hours from the grand opening of Minnesota’s newest brewing, Sisyphus Brewing Co. Skip out of work at noon on Friday and head over to their taproom at 712 West Ontario in Minneapolis. This will be a great time to check out their initial offerings.

Sisyphus’ will be operating on a small, two-barrel brewing system, with a constantly rotating selection of beers. They have no plans to offer up growler or retail sales, so you’ll have to head over to the taproom to sample some for yourself. The Sisyphus Brewing Taproom will initially be open every Friday and Saturday from noon to 1 am, with additional days to follow.

1. Could you share a little background on your venture into the brewing world?
I have been homebrewing for almost five years in our condo.  It started with just a mini-fridge in the kitchen, and quickly expanded to a “beer closet,” and now the beer stuff has overflowed into the dining and living room.


2. We’re familiar with Sisyphus from Greek mythology and his legendary punishment of rolling a boulder up a hill only to watch is roll down again. What’s your boulder?
My boulder right now is the entire brewery/taproom ownership experience.  You fill your fermenters, then you fill your serving tanks, then you sell your beer.  Then they need to be refilled again, by the exact same process you went through just a couple weeks ago.  Even when brewing different styles, the process is essentially the same from batch to batch.  It’s repetitive, like the boulder on the mountainside.  But brewing, like rock rolling, is hard work, and one doesn’t have time to think about such things while doing it.  You have to put your all into it, even though you’ve done it many times before and will do it many times again.
3. Your brewery will include a 100-seat theater space which will no doubt set you apart from other taproom operations what do you envision for that space?
We plan to run ticketed shows on Friday and Saturdays, with hopes to draw acts that people are going to get really excited to come see in a small, intimate setting.  The business model of selling our own beers in the show room will help us be able to spend more on the acts.  The rest of the week, we hope for the space to be available as a community space.  Open mics, improv, music…really whatever, we want it to be a resource for the artistic community on those off nights.
4. What was the first Minnesota-made beer to pass your lips? How about the most recent (aside from one of your own, of course)?
First Minnesota made beer ever consumed was a Summit EPA, given to me by Catherine.  She was into beer before me.  Recently consumed, I spent some time with Patrick at Jack Pine in Baxter and he is making some awesome beer.  His Whiskey Trespass was one of the best barrel aged beers I had tried in a long while.
5. We’re all kind of music nuts around here… what do the fine folks of Sisyphus like to play in the brewhouse?
I’m a big bluegrass fan.  There are even some harmonicas strewn about the brewhouse for some impromptu jamming.

6. What’s your response to those who will ask if there are “too many breweries” in Minnesota or suggest that the market is getting saturated?
There are over 8800 wineries in the United States, and only 2700 breweries.  I think beer makers are becoming like winemakers and trying to carve out a small niche in the market rather than going for the whole thing, and those people are very happy doing that.  We are just one example of the mindset of wanting to do this to make a living because we love it.  I think people traditionally hear brewery and think Summit, or Budweiser, or some sort of huge operation that wants to gain market share, and have their beer on every tap list and in every liquor store.  That isn’t the norm anymore for the places that are opening, it’s now about small local, really good beer.  People in the local beer community know that Minneapolis/Minnesota in general is behind the rest of the country (Denver, Portland, Seattle, San Diego to name a few) in the craft beer movement (though we are very quickly getting up to speed), and there is still opportunity out there for people who can make really good beers.

Chop & Brew #22: John Kimmich from The Alchemist

It’s not MN Beer officially, but likely something that will interest beer lovers and homebrewers here in the Upper Midwest. In this episode of the locally-produced Chop & Brew webshow, a discussion and Q&A with John Kimmich, head brewer at The Alchemist in Vermont, famous (infamous?) for the traders’ cult favorite Heady Topper. In this hour-plus video, John discusses not only his personal journey into and through craft brewing, he also offers homebrew-friendly advice and insight on all elements of brewing specifically as it relates to brewing hoppy beers. Footage shot in October 2013 while visiting Nashville, TN for the Music City Brew Off — which will be the focus of an entirely separate future episode of Chop & Brew. For Heady Topper recipe and other related links to the episode so this link to official episode page.

We also slacked a bit on posting the prior two episode of Chop & Brew in separate posts. So here they are in handy-dandy hyperlink form:

C&B 20: Homebrew Video Nerds Unite Two homebrewing videographers chat about their obsession with documenting brew days and what role video plays in the current landscape of homebrewing.

C&B 21: Meet the Brewer: Mino Choi Mino Choi is an award-winning homebrewer, winemaker and meadmaker. Join us for a gold-medal flight of his amazing fermentations and get some tips and tricks from one helluva competition fermentationist.

Chop & Brew #19: NYC Homebrew Tour

In this episode of Chop & Brew, we hit the road from the Twin Cities to New York City for the NYC Homebrew Tour. The C&B crew join beer journalist Joshua M. Bernstein and dozens of beer tourists as they visit three homebrewers and their homebreweries in Brooklyn. Maybe some day soon, we’ll see soemthing like this in the Minneapolis/Saint Paul area? Check out the Official Episode page at Chop & Brew’s website for information on the tour, three homebrew recipes, and C&B merch like t-shirts, stickers and ringtones.

Chop & Brew #10: Boat Bitter (Brewing Session Ale at Home)

It’s summer in The Cities and we’re in need of a low-alcohol, yet high-flavor beer. Enter Wyeast Brand Manager (and Saint Paul local) Michael Dawson with the cure: Boat Bitter. Dawson has some great advice for crafting a superb session-strength British Bitter utilizing a limited edition yeast strain, an off-the-beaten-path hop, and plenty of nerd power. Homebrewers, also check out the bonus video footage from the brew session for even more brewgeek awesomeness. Brew small!