Saturday, July 16, 2016

Minnesota Breweries One by One #53: Wicked Wort Brewing, Robbinsdale

What's that? #53? First 1-30, then 50, now 53? Yup. I want to get the last one wrapped up right away then go back. These time jumps will happen now and then, so I beg your indulgence for the turbulence.
I forgot to take a shot of the building on our way in, so thirsty
was I after our ride, so this is the view after we dined at
Pig Ate My Pizza across the street.

It's a Wednesday, my day off, and we decided, Jason and I, that this would be the day to bike to the Minneapolis suburb of Robbinsdale to visit Wicked Wort Brewing for the first time. Brewery #53.
It was a nice day, though the wind might cause trouble, and I was up for the nine mile ride. Two miles from my home to Sisyphus, where we would meet and help kick off their week of 2nd Anniversary celebrations, then seven miles along the various trails that Jason knew so well, and one he didn't know existed, to our destination in downtown "Bird Town."

It was an uphill climb most of the way, passing by various lakes and shaded lanes, making sure to include a glimpse at the upcoming Utepils Brewery along Glenwood Avenue, and eventually we made our way to 4165 W. Broadway Ave.

The logo for Wicked Wort does not use "Robbinsdale" as it's location, but instead "Bird Town, MN". Sure, okay. It also says that it was established in 2014, although the facility was not open to the public until late January of 2016. Another example of when the founding of a business is marked by when the owners cooked up the plan. And oddly, it is also referred to on a banner at the bottom as a "Speakeasy", which makes one think that it would only admit patrons who knew the secret password, serve bathtub hootch, play wild jazz music, and exist in the 1920's. None of those things were going on. It seems as if the operators of this establishment have a different meaning in mind than I do.

From left: S.Hurts Pale, Upper Deck IPA, Birdtown
Blonde, Combat Wombat Munich Helles
After a random encounter at the bar with my friends Michael and Gera, we soon found our seats, perused the menu and each of us ordered flights. Twelve dollars for four. We each picked four, then chose the remaining two as full servings, rounding out their ten offerings. I began with Combat Wombat, a sweet, malty, clean and light Munich Helles (6.8%, 22 IBU) that went down nice and easy. Next, their flagship brew, Birdtown Blonde, a soft and creamy ale (5.6%, no IBU given) whose effortless drinkable must make it a local hit. Number three was Upper Deck IPA, a bright, tropical fruity, yet dry IPA that I would recommend to any hophead out there. Says the menu: "Hops, hops, and more hops. Citra and Mosaic unite in a tropical fruit explosion for your tastebuds." I'd agree. 6.7%, 66 IBU. Ciara and Mosaic, the classic do-no-wrong combination.

The beer I'd prefer not to name.
Finally in my flight was a beer I had to choose in order to talk about it's name. Now, you can call me a prude or whatever you like, but I just think that vulgarities and four-letter words ought to be kept out of beer names. You shouldn't force someone to say "shit" in order to ask for your beer. Personally, I like to say "shit" as little as possible, and when I do, I'm usually talking about actual, real fecal matter, or comparing something to same. Worse yet, I'm a bit of a literalist and when the word is used I all too often imagine the actual shit, conjure up the image of the waste product in my mind, and the foul aromatics soon unspool in my imagination. More problematic is that the word is entirely overused as a synonym for "things" of "stuff" by a large percentage of the population. "Go grab that shit over there." "Oh, you know, I did some shit." "That was some great shit." I've yet to turn the word into a desirable part of my vocabulary, and I don't see that changing any time soon. I honestly feel that the overuse of the word pollutes our culture and undermines any intelligent interaction. But, maybe that's just li'l ol' me.

So, they have a Pale Ale called "Shit Hurts."(5.3%, 43 IBU) I overheard a server pour one and say the name, while the brewer standing by said "it sure does." A customer calls out an order for a growler or two of Shit Hurts. La de da, whoop de do, ...but I stand by my words: the word "shit" should not appear on a beer menu for any reason. Bad taste, crass, vulgar, and makes you think of poo. And dumb, really dumb.

As for the beer? Buttery, low on hops, light bodied, and uninteresting. Not a fan, of the beer or it's shitty name.
Jason with his flight, hoisting the Pilsner. Sorry I cut out
your left eye, buddy. 

Jason's flight consisted of Affengeil Pille German Pilsner, Big Deal Kolsch, Who's Your Daddy Vienna Lager, and Grey Duck Mosaic IPA, and he found that the bookends were the champions of his selection. I agreed: the kolsch and vienna were just okay, the pils a bit more on the money, and the Grey Duck IPA was just about right. We differed on our rankings of the 2 IPAs, but that's fine, reasonable minds can disagree, as we all know.

Here's the booth with the weird poster that so confused
my sister. There must be some meaning here, but I
can't discern it. 
Wicked Wort had been on my mind a bit more than other suburban breweries due to reports from my sister Lynn, who has lived in Robbinsdale for 30 years, or so. She's been in several times, and didn't have much to say about the beer itself, mainly the ambience and the various questions it raised. A poster featuring a photograph of two bikers holding hands while standing at urinals puzzled her. Weird, was her main comment. Like vulgar words, pictures of toilets and urinals should stay out of sight. (Side note: my experience at F-Town in Faribault months ago was marred by their rest room being situated next to the benches in the taproom, and the many times people would leave the door wide open, forcing me to look at a toilet while I drank their beers. And forcing me to get up and close the door after those people.) (Other side note: Harriet Brewing has a poster of Frank Zappa sitting on the toilet. It's in the men's room.)

Chandeliers hang from the ceilings, with peeing bikers on the walls. "Weird."

Here's the bar near the stage, replete with Robbinsdalians.
Peeking down at the brewery. 
It's a large room,with a space in one corner for bands, and a second bar nearby, and a food area adjacent to that. 

Frozen pizza, various snacks, free popcorn, etc. The merch rack, the game shelf, all the usual taproom stuff. And in the middle, a hole in the floor to peek down and look at the brewery in the basement. This marks the first time that I've seen a brewery lurking below a taproom. Not that there's anything wrong with that. 

Getting back to the beer, I picked a pint ofNessie's Scottish Export (5.4% ABV, 17 IBU), which was an acceptable, if unremarkable rendition of the style, and Jason went with the remaining beer, Rostock Imperial Pilsner (8.7%, 58 IBU). We both liked that one, and I don't usually go for double/imperial pilsners. I usually pass on them, even if it comes from a brewery I can trust. They describe it as "the flavor and bite of a single pilsner, with but the inconspicuous alcohol of two." I'd say that's about right.

This was all we needed, though food had to be taken care of. We could have had pizza delivered to us from Pig Ate My Pizza, across the street, but felt like we'd spent spent enough time at Wicked Wort and wanted to experience PAMP for ourselves. If you see a man walking around the taproom with a plastic pig on his head, talk to him, and have him bring you their pizza while you drink WW's beers. You will not regret it.

So, Robbinsdale has it's own unpretentious hang-out that makes decent beers, though it comes off a little weird to some. Maybe to me. Go knock yourselves out, Robbinsdale. We've checked you off our list, and now another 51 or so to go. And counting!


Jason B said...

Another food option in the taproom itself was presented by Hackenmueller Meats, the local butcher shop right down the steet.

AL MCCARTY said...

Thanks. Sorry I left that out. Sometimes the old noggin only holds so much.

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