Monday, February 29, 2016

Minnesota Breweries One by One #15: LTS Brewing, Rochester

It may not look like much, but it's got it where it counts.
It's the 21st of February, a Sunday, and it's time to find another Minnesota city and drink up their beers. The fates flung us 85 miles to the south-east, the 3rd largest city in the state, Rochester, population 106, 000, county seat of Olmstead County, resting on the Zumbro River.

Jason and I both reflected on whether we'd been there before and I could only think of visiting relatives, graduation parties or birthdays or weddings with cousins, or uncles or aunts. I think. And J. thought he'd only done pit-stops on the way to somewhere else. Oddly enough, that's where the city got it's start. Founded as a stage coach rest stop between St. Paul and Dubuque, Iowa in the 1850's,  it really got it's groove when Dr. William Mayo got into town a little bit later and set up shop. The Mayo Clinic is now world-famous, of course, and the main thing going in Rochester town.

Musing on the subject of these sojourns, we thought that three brewery visits in one day was probably best. But there was no way around doing four in Rochester. That's how many they have, and if we were to do only three, there's nothing else nearby to lump that left-off fourth into another visit in communities nearby. These are the kind of thoughts we have. And so we drive the hour and a half into Rochester and easily meet up with our first stop. LTS Brewing. Short for Life's Too Short, which must also be short for Life's Too Short To Drink Bad Beer. It's not a bad mantra, if you take it to heart. If only others in the city felt the same way....but I'm getting ahead of myself, here.

It's in an industrial park, a nondescript building, and the interiors are par for course of every average taproom around. Tables and chairs, popcorn and games, nice little beer-related decorations, clean and tastefully appointed. Nice enough.

kolsch, saison, IPA, and alt. 
We settled into the bar and perused the selections. Eight beers on, with flights of four available. Jason and I would be able to try them all by ordering a flight each and sharing. I chose Karma kolsch (5.1%, 25 IBU, soft, delicate, light and fruity with a moderate bitterness), Saison d'Vie (7.5% ABV, 26 IBU, funky nose, malty & fruity, with a low bitterness), Inspiration IPA (harsh bitterness followed by lush sweet malt body: bumpy start leading to an even end), and Ctrl-Alt-Del, a Northern German altbier. (dark and smooth, malt-forward with a light bitterness, clean and easy-drinking).
 In Jason's set: Fun Belgian blond, Illumination Belgian IPA, Browncoat brown ale, and an oatmeal stout.

Illumination IPA, Belgian-style.
I was let down with one from mine: the Inspiration IPA just didn't work for me, and I can't say why. Just didn't hang together. Oh, well, can't win them all. The others were right on the money. Just nailed them. I took tastes of Jason's flight and found that they mostly hit their marks, as well. The oatmeal stout seemed especially true to form. I decided to get a full pint as well after finishing my flight, and chose the Illumination Belgian IPA, a style I enjoy when done well. It had the highest IBU of the offerings, 81, and the Belgian yeast really came through in the flavor. Nice and funky: sweet, bitter, and freaky. Fresh and refreshing. I was pretty taken with it.
Daniel Wagner, eldest son of my sister
Jean, and recent transplant to Rochester,
has joined our beer-y caravan, and is
enjoying a CTRL-ALT-DEL.

I would have enjoyed sampling some more beers here. They seem to know what they are doing and are putting out quality ales. I had considered whether I should take home a growler, but don't really want to keep adding to my collection at home. I didn't think to call ahead and see if they fill other growlers than there own, but I could see that they did, as I watched another patron get his Kinney Creek growler filled with LTS beer. I sincerely hope that happens more than the other way around. If this brewery succeeds, it speak well for the taste of Rochester.

It was time to move on and head to stop #2. My nephew Dan had joined us and when we got there, our number would grow to four. It's good to share the fun, and as we'll soon see, the pain, as well.

3 comments:

Jason B said...

For future reference, should any loyal readers find themselves in Rochester, three brewery visits will suffice.

AL MCCARTY said...

You're spoiling the suspense. Wait for it.

Eric Wentling said...

We went there (along with the other two good breweries) this past fall. I felt that they were on the right track but a solid 2/3 of the beers had some flaws. I actually held off on reviewing them to let them ferment a little longer. Good to hear that they are improving. I'll have to get out there this summer and try again!