Thursday, March 24, 2016

Minnesota Breweries One by One #22: F-Town Brewing, Faribault

It's another Sunday and another trip to breweries out there in Greater Minnesota, this time focusing on communities to the south of the Twin Cities. We first found ourselves in Rice County and it's seat, Faribault, a town of 23, 000-some individuals, only about 82% of them white folks, about 50 miles south of the place I call home. It's a historic town, full of old buildings and small town charm, and is named after a far trader named Alexander Faribault, who set up shop in 1826. It is also a city with a bit of an identity crisis, as several businesses throughout the town used the spelling "Faribo" (phooey on the French!), and it's brewery, open since last July,  is calling itself F-Town, for better or for worse.

F-Town Brewing has appeared here twice, thanks to their canned products being distributed to my local stores. I've had the IPA, called IPAlicious, and the Nutso Brown Ale. Now, when questions about them are made online, and comments are posted, many have spoken ill, in particular, of the IPA. I could only add that I found the canned version to be fine. Well, we won't know till we try, will we? And try we must. Because that's what we're doing.
Jason, Rod, and Dave consider their options. 

It was absolutely necessary that F-Town be our first stop of the day because, for reasons complete beyond my understanding, they closed at 3pm. After opening at noon. Whey on earth would you bother even opening, if you're only open for three hours? Our second stop of the day was to close at 4, and our third, much smarter folks, indeed, locked their doors at 8 pm.

We found F-Town at 22 4th St. NE in downtown Faribault, and filed into the fairly small, nondescript taproom. It was a much larger contingent than normal this time. Rod had joined Jason and I for the full length of the journey, and Sharon and Dave drove down with us, with Ryan and Val meeting us at the taproom. Some had been here before, but we were there for the first time.

American Red Ale. 
Downstairs from the taproom, a brewhouse.
It's a tight room, with basic benches and no stools or chairs at the bar. Artistic photos on display, and the de rigeur growler collection, with several TVs drawing the eyes of sports fans. A chalkboard details the 6 beers available. Oddly, none of them were called IPAlicious or Nutso. There was India Pale Ale, Faribo Lager, American Brown Ale, American Red Ale, and two nitro beers, Black Stout and India Pale Ale. Some in our group went with flights, and I decided to take on a pint of the Red Ale.

Reddish coloring, beige head, caramel malt nose, sweetish and malty, long malty finish. Not bad. Not bad at all. Veers a little too close to the sweet side, but passable.

Jason offered up some samples from his flight, and I started at the light end, with the lager, with was fine, but unimpressive, having no flaws, but being far from perfect. I moved on the his IPA and there the problems began. It was horrid, and I winced at first sip, my mouth pulled tight into a hardened grimace. It was shockingly bad and possibly infected. I later took a sip of the nitro version, and it had exactly the same problem.
They got through their samples, with a couple
of exceptions.

Our bartender on this visit did not seem to have
much use for coasters. 
So the tough talk on the internets was true, they truly had a problematic IPA on their hands, and seemed utterly oblivious to it. But why was the canned IPAlicious not as troubled? And, more importantly, why can't they tell how undrinkable it is? The beer on the chalkboard wasn't called "IPAlicious", is there a reason for that? Is it a different recipe? Is the "good IPA" IPAlicious, and this is their terrible version they foist on taproom schmucks? I don't know, I just don't know.

I moved on to the Nitro Black Stout. It was roast, dry, malty, smooth, like any stout should be. Nothing wrong with it. Drinkable. But unexceptional.

I took a sample of nearly every beer available, and was not impressed, nor especially pleased with any of them. There's really nothing here to recommend. I hate to say that, but if it's true, it's true. If you're in Faribo/ault, and you've got nothing better to do, be my guest, I guess. Just stay away from that IPA.

And away we went, off to another town, another brewery.

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