Located in Minnetonka, Badger Hill Brewing is setting out to create great tasting and well-balanced brews adding to the lineup of successful Minnesota breweries. They are not; however, going the conventional route of producing beer in their own space. Instead, they are opting to share brewing space with Lucid Brewing under an Alternative Proprietorship Brewing Agreement. This will keep start up costs low for both breweries in this tough economy and will help them to expand, if needed, in the future.
The cooperative business model dates back to the Rochdale Pioneers who, in 1844 decided that a grocery store run by its customers would be a much better way to do business than that of a private shop where all profit funneled into one place. The group of 28 pioneers realized that cooperating allowed better control of the quality and allowed the profit to be enjoyed by all who invested in it and not just a single person.
Today there are many examples of cooperatives including; grocery stores, energy companies, farms, and now Badger Hill and Lucid breweries. One can see why a brewery would be concerned about quality and watching operating costs, especially in today’s market, which is chock full of quality craft breweries.
Badger Hill Brewing recently released their MSB (Minnesota Special Bitter) at Señor Wong’s in St. Paul and is currently producing two other varieties; Three Tree American Rye and Foundation Stout. You can try out the MSB next Wednesday at Midweek Beer Geek—an event held at the Nomad World Pub in Minneapolis and hosted by Andy Schmitt, the man behind Minnesota Beer Activists. You can also find Badger Hill on tap at these locations.
New Zealand hops are a growing trend in the craft brewing industry where breweries such as New Belgium, Anchor, Odell’s, and many more are using hop varieties from the pacific island to flavor some fantastic brews.
If you’ve ever been to the Minnesota History Center then you know what a beautiful venue it is. This multi-level, marble masterpiece played host to Winterfest this past weekend where local brewers brought their best winter offerings to share with local Craft Beer lovers. Many of these beers, such as the Randallized Worthy Adversary from Fulton, are not available for purchase in stores or at the brewery which makes events like these a special treat. Many of the newer Minnesota breweries were present such as Harriet Brewing, Fulton, Lucid Brewing, Mankato Brewery, Staples Mill Brewing, and from the North Shore, Castle Danger Brewing. Brewers could be seen talking about their methods and partaking in the many brews that were being poured from the draft towers of other breweries.
Congratulations were in order for Barley John’s, who at the end of the night took home the Snowshoe award for Dark Knight, their bourbon barrel aged Porter. They will now have two beer entries at the Great American Beer Festival in Denver next Fall.
Here were some of my favorites:
Framboise from Fitger’s Brewhouse - This 3-year old Belgian style ale was aged in wine barrels and had a very nice sour raspberry flavor. This was one of the most unique beers I’ve had in a while.
342 from Town Hall Brewery - This hop monster was loaded with a special variety of New Zealand hops that were unique to Town Hall Brewery and gave the beer a watermelon flavor. Mike Hoops did a wonderful job concocting this one.
Kaffir Pale Ale from Barley John’s - Let’s just say I enjoyed more than one of these and with good reason. This hoppy ale was brewed with Kaffir limes, which come from Thailand. They contributed an amazingly fresh flavor unlike anything I have tried before. A much welcomed upgrade over the common Corona with lime.
Espresso Stout from Schells - Made with beans home roasted by the brewer himself, this beer was designed with the coffee lover in mind. This was very drinkable and better than many of the other stouts that I tried that night.
Bourbon Barrel Aged Smoke from Surly - Normally I do not care as much for smoked beer but I really liked this one. Hints of vanilla from the bourbon barrels came through and the smoke flavor was a bit more subtle than some of the other smoked beers that I’ve tried.
While at the event, I had a chance to sit down with Ryan Petz from Fulton who told me about their North Loop tap room, which is set to open in early to mid-March—just in time for the Twins home opener. Currently Fulton is selling growlers on site Fridays from 3-7 and Saturdays from noon to 4.
I also caught up with Andy Schmitt who runs MN Beer Activists. He is pretty busy these days working to change some local laws regarding beer in Minnesota. Andy mentioned that one of the big things being discussed at the state level right now is a law that would allow brewpubs to distribute their beer in liquor stores. As the law stands right now, only packaging breweries (such as Summit) can sell their beer in liquor stores. Brewpubs can only sell their beer on premise by the pint or in growlers. “We are totally behind the movement to see brewpubs enter the world of distribution” Andy said. “It makes total sense. What is the harm to anyone if I can get a GABF award winning beer in my local store or on tap at another taproom?” MN Beer Activists is a non-profit organization that represents consumer interests through active engagement in education, legislation, and community participation regarding beer, wine, and spirits. I will have more about Andy and his organization next week.