Sometimes, in our urban “brewtopia,” we forget about the suburban breweries that are doing it right — the ones that bring in diverse Friday night crowds from a multicounty area, slaking the thirst of craft beer drinkers who don’t want to deal with Minneapolis traffic or the burden of a brewery crawl in Northeast Minneapolis’ self-described “brew district,” competing with yelling young people … or worse, bachelor parties.
But not today. Today marks the release of the second beer in the Badger Hill Brewing Wanderlust Series, the Cherry Double Dunkel (the first was the now-mainstay White IPA). Available for purchase, with a limit of two per person, or in gift sets of a 750 ml bottle and two special edition tulips, this specialty is unlike a regular seasonal brew. Although the word Dunkel means “dark” in German, Badger Hill’s version of the lager isn’t especially robust in color and is actually based on the Weizenbock — a German wheat beer.
With its hazy, caramelized ruby color and a thick head that quickly settles, this brew is conditioned on almost two pounds of Door County cherries per gallon. The fruity ester notes are subtle, but the overall tartness is not, which isn’t to say it’s unpleasant. The sour flavors — despite being slightly out of style — are what make the beer unique, and a testament to the brewer’s skill. Thanks to a bready body, the Cherry Double Dunkel is in the category aptly described as a “gateway sour.” It is astutely on trend but still approachable.
The bottling is a labor of love, producing a beer that’s just asking to be cellared — the Double Dunkel is poured two-by-two, manually labeled, and topped with a hand-dipped wax seal. Having sampled the 2013 version, aged for two years, one of brewery’s owners, Britt Krekelberg, said the current edition will mellow with time, decreasing the yeasty nose and increasing the overall clarity.
The taste is familiar enough for a regular doppelbock drinker or lager lover, while it slightly pushes the palate to a more adventurous style. At 8 percent ABV, this beer would fit in nicely at the Thanksgiving table as an alternative to a turkey-ready pinot noir. A zesty cranberry sauce would bring the brew’s clove notes to the forefront with the delicacy of a citrus-forward Riesling.
The bottle release will be in the brewery’s newish taproom, which opened in late 2014. The venue is slowly gaining popularity in the south suburban area since it’s the only brewery in Scott County. The large taproom space has high ceilings, games, and a variety of sitting areas, including a small garden with a few picnic tables. A glass wall between the taproom and the brewery acts as a massive window into the production process.
Since moving to the new brewery, Badger Hill Brewing has stopped bottling its regular-release brews and has begun canning them, to allow for a wider distribution. They expect to release more specialties in the Wanderlust series and more one-offs as well as taproom-only “test kitchen” brews, such as the Minne-Ale Kölsch, and weekly infusions, including the fan-favorite caramel-macchiato-infused stout.
Although food truck season is over, the brewery has a variety of classes and events open to the public. They held their first Shaktoberfest in the building’s parking lot in mid-October. For Halloween, they hosted a candy and beer pairing that served as part education, part indulgence for beer geeks and novices alike. They plan on doing similar foodcentric events in the future.
Badger Hill Brewing taproom, 4571 Valley Industrial Blvd S, Shakopee, MN 55379; 952.230.2739