In this Toast: Check out the progress at Bauhaus Brew Labs, the latest brewery to sandblast a building and bend it to their will. Mainstreet Hopkins welcomes Live the Dream Brewing to an otherwise barren beer landscape. Finally, Local spirits are slowly infiltrating many local bars, and while gin dominates, Minnesota aquavit is gathering a following.
Bauhaus Brew Labs
After a very successful Kickstarter, a major building renovation, and arranging more stainless steel than a Sears warehouse, Bauhaus Brew Labs will debut their beer this weekend at the Pride Dabbler in Loring Park. Look for lagers, including the Wonderstuff Pilsner and Stargazer Schwarzbier.
Co-owner and brewer Matt Schwandt has a simple answer to the natural question: Why lagers? “It’s just what we like to drink. And what we like to brew.”
Most brewers do not start out making lagers — the style takes longer, can often be more challenging to do well, and requires refrigeration during fermentation. Schwandt, his friends, and his father-in-law have been brewing since 2005. After experimenting with all different styles, they ultimately settled on the beer road less traveled: the lager. Bauhaus plans to have four regular beers, three lagers, and one requisite IPA, plus several seasonals and limited selections.
“The IPA will have lots of newer hop varieties. It will be more tropical and less citrus,” Schwandt explains.
The company studied the floor plans of Indeed and Fulton to design their space, but they’ve created something all their own with an indoor and an outdoor stage, plus a reclaimed barn wood bar within the old foundry building.
The tap room will be open by mid-July, and beer will be released to retail soon after. 16-ounce and 12-ounce cans designed by Helms Workshop (Austin Beerworks, Top Hops Beer Shop, Fullsteam Brewery) are planned because Schwandt believes cans are the most appropriate package for their product.
In the alcoholically saturated Northeast neighborhood, Bauhaus must stand out in order to flourish. Sociable Cider Werks, 612 Brew, and Indeed Brewing are all within comfortable walking distance. Schwandt cites Bauhaus’s brand philosophy and culture as its most appealing aspects. “The brewery is just a natural extension of our family, whether it’s a zany theme party or musical act.” Bauhaus fosters an attitude of curiosity and seeks to create an open and inviting environment for visitors.
LTD Brewing Opens in Hopkins
The word “tap room” immediately conjures images of the industrial chic Northeast neighborhood of Minneapolis. But these pint-slinging breweries are taking flight in less expected areas and diversifying the craft beer landscape.
Take downtown Hopkins: It’s a neighborhood (well, a single street, really) that offers a mix of antique shops, classic cafes, and one very cheap movie theater. But have you ever ventured out along Mainstreet in hopes of painting the town? Look forward to a lot of billiards and more neon-colored drinks than anyone out of college should be proud of.
Live the Dream Brewing (LTD, for short) is clearly a welcome addition to the drinking scene. Owners and brewers Jeremy Hale and Blake Verdon are the latest home brewers to turn professional, having opened the first brewery and tap room in Hopkins on June 7. Their lofty mission statement contains phrases like “beer for people who dare to dream differently.” Located within the simple but functional 1,200-square-foot space is the 8-barrel system where Hale and Verdon have developed about a dozen recipes, all with dream-themed names.
“One of the most important parts of brewing in Hopkins is water filtration,” Hale explains, gesturing to a reverse-osmosis system. The city, which is known for its extremely hard water, approved the plan for a 1,500-square-foot patio in addition to the building.
Last weekend they had about eight beers available along with one root beer. Four of those were offered in a flight: the Dream Girl American Wheat, Batch #1 English Brown, No Shore IPA, and Nightmare Stout.
None of the beers in the flight were flawless and some had noticeable shortcomings. The American wheat uses only 10 percent wheat in addition to malted barley, and is also filtered, resulting in a colossal lack of flavor.
According to the bartender, this beer has been popular with the less adventurous seeking an easy-drinking choice. On the other end of the style spectrum is the Nightmare stout, a passable but one-dimensional beer with strong roasted notes and some chocolate to amuse the palate. The least successful beer was the Batch #1 Brown Ale, an anemic-looking and thin-bodied brown with off-putting phenols and no malt complexity to speak of.
“We will never make this beer again,” Hale states simply to a small group of drinkers. “It was our very first batch.”
It is unclear whether this is sentimentality speaking or the knowledge that Batch #1 is terribly flawed, but in either case, it doesn’t live up to part of their promise: “We will only brew beer that we would want to experience and we will only sell you beer that we would drink with you.”
Local Spirits Change the Landscape
Drinking local, a natural extension of eating local, is becoming easier thanks to the influx of Minnesota-made spirits and the bars that serve them. Choices are vast in terms of not only the spirits themselves, but where and how to enjoy them.
For the gin lover, there is Marin restaurant, inside Le Meridien Chambers hotel downtown. With one of the Twin Cities’ best gin selections, Marin stands out. The restaurant’s modern patio is a fine place to enjoy a gin infusion, the cornerstone of their cocktail menu, made with house tonic and aromatics.
Two local choices make the list, the first being Vikre’s Boreal Spruce gin served with nutmeg. The spruce delivers more fresh pine than resin with significant herbal notes that balance the nutty spice infused into the drink. Next, try the Far North Solveig Gin in a simple gin and tonic or paired with their recommended cardamom.
Solveig, a very delicate and balanced gin, is made entirely with rye using lavender, juniper, thyme, and grapefruit peel. Each ingredient is individually infused into the gin in a unique way, rather than thrown into the kettle together. Fresh and vegetable-driven menu items are excellent partners for both gins — try the vegetable spring rolls.
Also from Far North is the Alander Rum, found at a handful of bars and restaurants including Meritage, Parlour, and Sea Change. To experience an Alander Dark & Stormy, cross the street to Solera, where bartender Ian Lowther (also Far North’s sales manager) will enthusiastically serve you this favorite, which allows the spirit to shine. Minnesota’s only rum contains Louisiana turbinado and demerara sugars, two sweeteners that make up the very short list of Far North’s non-local ingredients.
Stop by Buddha Kitchen to sample Death’s Door Gin, made in Middleton, Wisconsin. The key to this gin, according to manager and bartender Hugo Silva, is the wild juniper berries, sourced from neighboring Washington Island. “Wild juniper means more delicate flavors,” he explains. While the flavor was actually quite intense, the juniper was complex rather than overwhelming, with earthy and herbal notes. The coriander and fennel are the only other botanicals contributing this layered flavor. Silva often serves Death’s Door straight, but recommends lavender or cucumber as accompaniments at home.
Finally, walk around the corner to Eat Street Social for an impressive array of local spirit choices including Prairie, 45th Parallel, Modest Vodka, and several varieties of aquavit from Gamle Ode. Bar Manager Blue Ballard serves up the Dill Aquvit from Gamle Ode in a mix of sweet vermouth, lemon syrup, and Bittercube Cherry Bark Vanilla bitters. The unexpected combination of dill, berries, and citrus tastes like it was meant to be, and not because the dill is subtle. The herb works very well within its unlikely sweet context, no longer being banished to serve only with salmon or eggs.
According to Ballard, the three Gamle Ode varieties (Dill, Holiday, Celebration) are some of his favorite spirits to work with and have all been incorporated into several very successful cocktails at Eat Street Social.