Centered around the annual release of Cuvee de Boom, Boom Island Brewing is hosting Boom Days this weekend, Friday through Sunday July 17-19. The three-day family-friendly event was created to celebrate Belgium’s national day (the Monday after the event, on July 21) and is now in its second year. It functions as the brewery’s birthday bash, honoring traditional Belgian brewing and folklore.
Each day of the free festival has a different focus. Friday starts with the release of the Cuvee de Boom beer and includes Belgian games like rolle bolle – a bocce/horseshoes hybrid – played in the brewery’s parking lot. Saturday’s main event is a series of bands starting at 2pm and Sunday starts with Boom Days Sunday School and focuses on beer education, including helping homebrewers learn how to brew a better Belgian. There will also be food trucks throughout the weekend.
We sipped on the Cuvee de Boom as we discussed the event with brewer and co-owner Kevin Welch in Boom Island’s small but cozy taproom. “Cuvee” refers to wine fermented in an establishment’s most special vat, but doesn’t have any formal style characteristics in the world of beer. This cuvee, more beer than wine, is based off an experience Welch had when trying a biere de champagne he had received for his birthday.
While the beers are not similar in flavor profile, Welch says the Cuvee de Boom is crafted to be what he expected the beer to taste like after looking at its name and the bottle’s shape and paper label – resulting in an experience reminiscent of Dom Perignon, but with more beer.
Cuvee de Boom has many wine-like qualities because it’s made partially of grape juice. With 45% pinot grigio and 55% Belgian blonde pilsner malt, it is sweet like a British-style cider and effervescent and dry like a champagne. The beer pours with a heavy head that quickly dissipates and the body is fresh with light plum notes that deepen as it warms.
At 10.5% ABV, Cuvee de Boom isn’t an everyday beer, despite the juice-like easy drinking confidence it gives you when it hits your palate. It’s light on gluten, like a white wine, so while not completely safe for those seeking gluten-free options, it tastes less heavy and malty than the Belgian blonde base. The pinot grigio’s ample fruity elements makes it taste like a sparkling wine but more tart – accented by the bubbles that makes it taste more bitter, like a beer.
Beyond this annual special beer release, Boom Island Brewery has done a small amount of re-branding it will roll out over the next year. This includes an updated logo with clear references to the namesake island’s lighthouse and the city’s skyline, and a color-scheme for the soon-to-be-released “Spontaneous Series” that starts with the Oude de Funk (a gueuze lambic by another name) coming this fall. The owners have plans to increase production off-site to continue brewing while maintaining its current taproom space which includes pew-type seating outdoors, alluding to the Belgian monasteries that brew some of the world’s best beers.
The Boom Island taproom opens at 4pm tomorrow and the Cuvee de Boom will be available on tap after the opening ceremony at 6pm, in which Jacque the Flemish chicken mascot makes the welcome toast and clinks glasses with each person individually, beer in talon. There will be a limited number of 750ml bottles of Cuvee de Boom available for purchase throughout the festival.
Boom Island Brewing, 2014 N Washington Ave #300, Minneapolis, MN , 612.227.9635