Friday, April 15, 2016

Minnesota Breweries One by One #24: Badger Hill, Shakopee, with Hoppy Pale Ale

Every taproom needs a giant LED logo.
4571 Valley Industrial Boulevard.
The time had come for stop three on Sunday, 3/20, and our tour of the breweries of South Central Minnesota (so far). We'd filled up on pizza in Montgomery, and set out for Shakopee. County seat of Scott County. Named for Chief Shakopee of the Dakota nation, platted (I have to figure out what that word means!) in 1854. Population of 37, 000, only 77% of them of the caucasoid race. Best know for Canterbury Park race track and Valley Fair amusement park. I haven't been inside the city limits since  the last time I went to Valley Fair, which was probably in high school. So, thirty years or so. (No, exactly, I know how old I am.)

Badger Hill the brewing company began in 2012, operating out of the Lucid facility in Minnetonka, along with Bad Weather. Their new brewery in Shakopee opened up in late 2014, and I'm finally getting out there to drink up their beers.  We pulled into the parking lot of a nondescript factory in an industrial boulevard, appropriately named Valley Industrial Boulevard South, and made our way into the taproom. A colorful cartoon mural depicting the brewing process greets us at the entrance and we pass through a long room with seating before taking a right turn to the taps themselves and find our stools at the bar.

It's a nice, clean space, decorated with big posters of the beer labels, as well as original beer-related art by local artists, and board games and such available, as is increasing the norm for taprooms. I can imagine it fills up very well on the weekends, with scores of Shakopeeans hanging out and digging their local beers.

Badger Hill has appeared in the Bitter Nib six times before, covering most of their output in bottles, cans or on-tap. I may have missed a few. Looking at Untappd, I see they have 50 beers listed. That's a little more than a few! Most of these are beers only available in the tap room. And isn't that what a taproom is for, making beers only for that space, that are on for a limited time, that are a testing ground for experimental beers?

Orange is the New Black IPA.
Unfiltered High Road.
So, what's on tap this time? A lot of the usual stuff, plus some I've never even heard of. Traitor IPA? Check. Minne-Ale Kolsch? Don't know that one. MSB, High Road, Foundation Stout, White IPA? Done, done, done. And done. But "Orange Is The New Black IPA"? Never heard of it. Like it sounds, it's a black IPA with oranges added. So, I had one, and I liked it. It was just as you'd imagine. Dark, rich, chocolate-y, with grassy/piney hop notes, and a twist of orange peel tossed in. 5.5% ABV, easy to drink, and likable.

I don't recall Rod's joke, but it must have
been good. 
Next up, I took on a pint of Unfiltered High Road, their session IPA/pale ale. I liked it a lot. And I have to admit that I wasn't taking notes. Since I'd had most of their beers before, it wasn't as if I was encountering a new brewery and tasting their wares for the first time. Also, it was the third brewery of the day, and things get a little loose.

As I gulped back the pint, I noticed something of note on the chalkboard and asked co-owner Britt to fill us in on the event listed for the up-coming Wednesday. A bourbon-barrel-aged Imperial Stout, really? I didn't know they made one! More surprises at the taproom. And though there was no way I could get a growler, we found out that it was on tap (for staff tasting purposes), and she would get us some samples, too. And it was good. Very good. Someday, put that in bottles and send it out into the world and see heads turn kind of of good.
What, two surprise bourbon-barrel stouts at two taprooms in a row? What a Sunday!

So, endeth our Sunday South Central Excursion. I got my growler and away we went. Farewell, Badger Hill Brewing, even though you're not named after a hill or a badger, you keep on making good beers!

A peek at the brewing equipment.

For the first time this trip, no collection of other
brewery's growlers. Also, for the first time,
major awards on display!
I enjoy the taking of the self-portrait
photograph, which I call a "SePoPho".
Soon, everyone will be doing SePoPhos and
using that very phrase. Mark my words!

All the Badger Hills of the rainbow!

Badger Hill Hoppy Pale Ale. 5.2% ABV. 45 IBU.

Clear, bright golden, high carbonation, slim white head.

Vibrantly bitter hop aromatics, intense citrus, and tropical fruit notes. Grapefruit and mango. Bitter lime and lemon peel. Nice.

In the mouth: powerfully pungent, aburst with bright and lively bitter hop flavors. More of that noted in the nose. Light bodied, clean, lean, superbly drinkable for the hophead among us. So tasty, and so-toss-back-able. Yum. I can drink this one like crazy.

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