India Pale Ale continues to be the hottest-seller among craft beer styles according to national polls. This British style turned American best-seller is well known to Minnesotans, and several local breweries call an IPA their flagship beer. Steel Toe Size 7, Fulton 300, and Surly Furious (a variation on the style) are among the best known.
One Minnesota IPA, Miraculum, has been without a taproom to call home until this week, when Pryes Brewing Company opened on West River Road, north of downtown Minneapolis. No longer homeless, Miraculum is joined by four new beers as the taproom debuts.
Owner and brewer Jeremy Pryes once brewed in the former Lucid space in Minnetonka, and prior to that he spent years shaping recipes as a home brewer.
Though the taproom is just across the river from Northeast Minneapolis, which is widely known as a beer destination, it feels distinctly different from its neighbors. The patio is separated from the Mississippi by only one street, and weekend water-skiing shows and a convergence of bike paths bring a steady stream of passersby. The Pryes taproom is also distinguished by its design. Its interior has a cohesive look rather than the work-in-progress feel of early taprooms such as Northgate or Bent Paddle.
A natural first taste would be the Blonde, which is described as “bright, lemon, peppercorn.” The aroma holds little of the listed descriptors, and the light-amber color immediately seems off. For the style, the first few sips are much too heavy in the mouth, and there is little citrus or spice beyond the hoppy aftertaste. More appropriately labeled a summer ale, it may turn off blonde fans.
The Session IPA is more pleasant, with a strong clementine aroma and flavor. An herbal, almost savory, component builds throughout tasting. On warming, however, the beer quickly becomes overly bitter. This covers up the more delicate citrus notes. The bitter trend carries through to the Red IPA, which is heavy-handed on bitterness without much redeeming flavor or complexity. Brief pine and resin notes can be found before the beer climbs in temperature.
The outstanding beer of the bunch is the oddball: The Foreign Extra Stout. This uncommon style is a classic variation on stout. It was brewed, beginning in the 18th century, with a robust profile that would withstand transport to other countries. Foreign extra stouts are known for an intense roasted flavor and moderate dryness. The Pryes version is rich, but not heavy, with strong chocolate and sweetened coffee notes. It’s enjoyable, even in the heat, though it’s on the sweet side for the style (in contrast to the other beers on the menu).
As of now, Pryes places no limitations on its beer styles. “We’ll be brewing what we like — what’s fun to brew — and paying attention to trends,” says Pryes. There may be a Belgian bent in the future; the classic Belgian lawn game, Feather Bowling is installed inside the taproom. The game is similar to bocce, but with heavy wooden balls shaped like wheels of cheese.
Plans for the future are not certain, but Pryes anticipates growlers and crowlers soon. Packaging for distribution will likely be in cans to preserve the freshness of the beer as much as possible, though that is months away.
Perhaps the most unusual addition to a new taproom is Pryes’ chef-in-residence model of food service. While the brewery holds a restaurant license, it will not have a restaurant of its own, instead, the kitchen will be offered to local chefs as a temporary operation. The first chef to be featured is Pete Campbell of Red Wagon Pizza. A small menu of pizzas and snacks is a perfect match for the selection of brews and offers a sort of familiarity.
Pryes Brewing Company, 1401 W River Rd N, Minneapolis 55411; 612.787.7937; Thu 4 p.m.-11 p.m., Fri 3 p.m.-midnight, Sat 11 a.m.-midnight.