Tuesday, March 22, 2016
Minnesota Breweries One by One #21: Big Wood Brewery, White Bear Lake
So, we were missing Dave's BrewFarm, as well as Oliphant, and Jason wanted to go this past Sunday. (Last Sunday, actually, 3/13.)It had been almost a month to the day. But, how could we squeeze a Minnesota brewery visit into the day's journey and keep up the pace? That's why we ended up pulling into White Bear Lake and popping into Big Wood Brewery.
beers here in the Nib, and they're all from 2013, 2 of them unlabeled samples from the distributor. The next two years found me unmotivated to go out of my way to try any of their other beers. And now, two years after they opened their taproom, we're going just a little out of our way to 2222 4th St., downtown White Bear Lake.
This place is all about the wood, and we must always strive to admire the material and not to lay down in the mire with the inevitable innuendo. It's hard not to, since their first big hit was Morning Wood, which is a big, ol' dick joke. Do all of their beer names need to be suggestive? Does there have to be a "bro" mentality? Really? It's important to set that stuff aside, but it's fairly inescapable. If you look at the review of Morning Wood, you will see that I presented an image from the packaging of a crowing rooster. You could see it simply as indicative of mornings, or as, to put it bluntly, a cock.
Thank heavens, then, that these insinuations don't occur with every beer name, or anywhere else in the place. And a pleasant place it is. A well-wooded room, clean and comfortable, with the unique decorative touch of the bar lights covered by growlers from other breweries. There's a small stage for DJs or musical performance or trivia masters, whatever they've got going on. I'm sure there could be quite a raucous scene here in the heart of White Bear Lake, but we're in early on a Sunday, and it's quiet as can be.
We were able to cover the gamut of offerings at the brewery this time, with Jason taking one flight and I another. I picked flight #2, which featured the least number of beers I tried before: Amigo
Flight #1, the one Jason ordered, starts off with three that have been in this blog before, Jackpine Savage Pale Ale, Bark Bite IPA, and Morning Wood Coffee Stout, then finishes with two new to me, Li'l Red Riding Wood Amber / Red Ale and Fine! IPA. Li'l Red was a sweet, malty thing, perfectly acceptable, and Fine! was a nice surprise. Nice and crisp, delightfully bitter nose, and highly drinkable. We both preferred it to the Bark Bite.
In fact, that would have been the one I would have taken home in a growler, if I'd thought to bring one with me. Also, I knew I'd be buying more at Oliphant and Dave's, and sure enough, that was nine days ago, and I still have 2 of those yet to consume. I found some consolation in learning that this IPA will be released in bottles soon, and eventually kegs to the market, as part of a Taproom Series.
We were content with the output at Big Wood, in all. There is nothing seriously wrong with any of them, though some may not be up to the demands of our critical palates. (He says facetiously.) Straight-forward interpretations of well-known styles, well-done. Can't argue with that. (Though we wish we weren't always reminded of erections, of course.)
This was one of the visits where we stuck to fights and didn't order a single full pint, though I considered it. The only reason I did not choose to spend more time with a pint of ale in my hands was that the road beckoned us, and there were more new beers awaiting us further on down the line.