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Minnesota on Tap

He writes about beer.

Sociable Cider Werks celebrates two years

Two years ago Jim Watkins and Wade Thompson set out to bring craft cider to the Twin Cities. This was a risk due to the heavy dose of “alcopops” we’ve been served for years here in the midwest. “It’s [cider industry] been driven by The Boston Beer Company. That’s a totally different product” says Watkins.

Education was the first order of business for the duo. “We just wanted to teach Minneapolis about good cider, and we wanted to do something a little more authentic” according to Watkins. They began with using real apples from Pepin Heights Orchards located in Lake City, Minnesota and began brewing up some recipes. On opening night Jim and Wade both remember having to pour ciders right off the fermenters because the ciders weren't quite ready. They had a couple of their beers available but they were scrambling to get ready for the taproom opening.

In two years Sociable has weathered a couple changes in their brewing staff including Mike Willaford who has since gone out west to continue his brewing career. Now John Kirkman is in charge of brewing operations and he’s been experimenting quite a bit with their beer program as well. One such experiment was the Coffee Stout which featured no coffee at all. “You don’t get that caffeine buzz you’d get with coffee” says Kirkland.

Going forward they plan on utilizing some bourbon barrels from Breckenridge Distillery to age some of both their beer and cider. “Cider is a great vehicle for barrel flavors” according to Kirkland. “It picks up vanilla flavors in less than two months.” Some of the other fun things they’ve tried are a Japanese cider which was made with a sake yeast and honey from Northeast Minneapolis, and a smoke cider which was a bit heavy on the smoked peat character for me. It reminded me of Scotch.

Going forward the plan is to make a lot more seasonal batches which will probably include a mulled cider which will be served both warm and cold. Jim also stated that he thinks that cider pairs well with food and if far more than just a seasonal product.

Whatever the plan is, rest assured that Sociable Cider Werks has thus far been a success story. A story born in the Twin Cities craft beer boom and destined to put quality cider on the map here in the midwest. “It’s been successful for two years, and we currently have a waiting list [accounts] for our cider. It was a risk but we’re excited to be the pioneers” said Watkins. 


Republic and GYST both set to host sour beer events on December 12th

Sour beer lovers will be happy to know that there are a couple of great looking events both happening on December 12th. From 2 PM until 3:30 PM, GYST Fermentation Bar will be hosting an event called Worldly Sour Beers. Expect to try a variety of sour beers from around the world with host and GYST founder Jill Mott. Tickets will cost $40 plus fees and can be purchased here. Light snacks will be provided along with beer samples.

New Belgium and Indeed have teamed up with Republic to create an event they are calling Sour Social which will take place from 5 PM until 8 PM. What is neat about this event is that unlike most most beer dinners, this one will be casual where you can get up and mingle instead of being tied to a specific table. There will be 6 beers being poured to pair up with 6 small plates. Your ticket includes a 10 oz. welcome beer, and six 4 oz. sample pours to pair with the 6 small plates. You will also receive a glass from New Belgium and Indeed. Brewers from both of the breweries will be around to chat about sour beer as well. Tickets will be $50 plus any fees and can be purchased here.

The menu is as follows:

Indeed Brewing Co. Wooden Soul #1-Saison with Brett

Charred Scallop, bell pepper puree, sprouted lentils 

Indeed Brewing Co. Wooden Soul #4-Sour Blonde Ale aged with Fresh Grapefruit

Fish n' Chip, beer battered cod, fried plantain, grapefruit yum-yum sauce 

Indeed Brewing Co. Ephemeral: Combines oak, port, cherry, and wild fermentation 

Cambozola Toasty, rye, arugula, port poached cherries 

New Belgium Brewing Co. La Folie-Sour Brown Ale

Pork Shoulder Rillette, sour "bbq", pickled granny smith apple

New Belgium Brewing Co. Le Terroir-Dry-hopped Sour Ale 

Nachos Libre, flat iron steak, cheddar-Terroir sauce, black bean, mango salsa 

New Belgium Brewing Co. Love-Peach Oscar 

Peach Cobbler, vanilla bean cream, whisky-caramel