Tag: Minnesota Beer

New Breweries to Look Forward to in 2017

This is going to be very good year for new breweries here in Minnesota with many set to open this spring. The latest wave of brewery openings have been fairly disappointing but there is reason for optimism this year. Here are a few of the highlights to consider.

Barrel Theory – This highly anticipated brewery is set to open in Lowertown right next to Dark Horse. Brett Splinter and Timmy Johnson both formerly of Surly are looking to introduce some interesting barrel-aged offerings east of the river. Quality beer is going to be the theme here and given their experience, we should be very excited. Expect some very big beers and plenty of barrel-aged sours to come out of this space.

Oakhold Farmhouse Brewery – You know those fantastic sours that have been coming out of Fair State? Yeah, the owners of Oakhold are behind many of those and they are planning to open a farmhouse brewery out of Midway Township near Duluth, Minnesota. Expect some fantastic mixed culture sours along with some traditional farmhouse beers similar to those found over in Belgium or France.

Hoops Brewing – Canal Park has long been a popular tourist spot in one of the most picturesque cities in Minnesota. Soon it will be home to Hoops Brewing, headed up by the man (Dave Hoops) who put Duluth on the beer map while he was with Fitger’s Brewhouse. Now his team will be led by former Fitger’s Brewhouse brewer Melissa Rainville—who I’m told will be tasked with developing many of the recipes for their lineup. Expect a taproom that will welcome anyone including hockey fans, a group that Dave feels very much a part of. They will create a solid lineup of flagship offerings and will proudly feature a barrel-aged program that is certain to please even the most discerning palate.

Star Keller – We’ve been waiting for far too long for this place to open. Jace Marti (from Schell’s Brewing) has been concocting recipes and plans to make more of those fantastic Berliner Weiss beers in the Noble Star collection, as well as a variety of blended mixed culture sours, and even a Flanders Red Style. My biggest concern about the Star Keller is the location. Here’s to hoping that New Ulm embraces having an all sour taproom in town.

Most of these breweries are expecting to open this spring, but I’d expect Oakhold to take a little while longer with a late 2017 opening date.


Bev-Craft Seeks to Improve Minnesota Beer

Tim Nelson and Dave Hoops left Fitger’s Brewhouse over a year ago with hopes of improving the quality of Minnesota beer by starting a consulting business called Bev-Craft. A “think tank” is what they like to call it. Dave Hoops who is the Director of Brewing Operations is excited to lend his experience to new breweries seeking to improve their beer. “Unless you’re someone like Sierra Nevada, you should always be trying to make better beer” says Hoops.

Dave and a team of cicerones tasted over a hundred beers (locally made) at the state fair and gave feedback, positive and negative to breweries around the state. The goal was to give honest advice to some of the breweries looking to improve their beer. “I’m overly opinionated” he said. “But I’m fair.” Dave also serves as a judge at the Great American Beer Festival which gives him a head up on most brewers (in my book) here in Minnesota.

Tim Nelson acts as CEO while Dave Hoops heads up the brewing operations. Brad Nelson (Tim’s brother) is in charge of the branding while Paul Christensen is responsible for sales. “Basically we’re here to help breweries start up. We’re also specialized consultants. That doesn’t mean that I’m approaching them. People that have a question, we’re there to help” says Hoops.

In an overcrowded local market, this can only be a good thing. Especially with all of the sub-par beer being produced by the newer breweries. My advice to new breweries looking to open….don’t serve your beer until it’s ready.

Quality should always come first. And if you need help, reach out to the professionals.


Noteworthy Beers from Autumn Brew Review 2016

With so many fantastic beers on display at the 16th annual Autumn Brew Review, it’s hard to choose favorites. Instead I’ve highlighted some that stood out. Here they are:

Whiskey Queen from Indeed Brewing – A smooth Russian Imperial Stout that delivers flavors of bittersweet chocolate, vanilla, stone fruits and oak to the palate.

Twisted Zweig from Forager Brewing – This was probably my favorite beer at the festival. An Imperial Berliner Weisse aged on black currants. Sour, juicy, and extremely drinkable. You’d never know this was an 8% (ABV) beer, which is almost dangerous. This brewery has really impressed me this summer and it would be worth your while to visit them down in Rochester. I was honestly shocked that there wasn’t a line at this booth.

Imperial Chocolate Milk Stout from Dangerous Man – Smooth and creamy milk chocolate with a little bit of heat (alcohol) on the end. It’ll be fun to explore some these barrel-aged beers coming out of Dangerous Man in the coming months.

IWL from Town Hall Brewery – This wheat based lager was very heavy on my two favorite hops—Mosaic and Citra. Another fine creation by Mike Hoops and his team of brewers over at the Seven Corners brewery. There’s a reason it’s the first place I take anyone new to the Twin Cities.

Bourbon Barrel Aged Stout from NorthGate – Dark stone fruits, chocolate, and bourbon dominated the flavor profile of this one. Nice example of the style for a brewery that focuses on British ales. This one stood out among the many other Imperial Stouts available at ABR.