Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Minnesota Breweries One by One #52: 10K Brewing, Anoka, with India Brown Ale

Let's go back in time, way back, five weeks ago,  to July 3. It's leg #3 of our journey, and a brewery we'd attempted before, to no avail. Back in April, Jason and I intended to visit 10K Brewing in my hometown of Anoka, and we had to gone to my old ancestral home to pick up my mother. Because how could I go there and not see my Mom? Jason dropped us off near the brewery and left to park the car, while Mom and I walked in to be told that they were closing. The information we had read lead us to believe that they were open until 6 pm, but it wasn't happening. This time, for sure.

Unfortunately, we couldn't bring Mom along this time, because she was on vacation in Florida. So, there we were on our own in my old stomping grounds, downtown Anoka, where I began my life and spent my first twenty summers. So long ago, of course, that I can barely remember what used to be where. Anoka (from an Indian word meaning "where two rivers meet", those being the Rum and the
Mississippi) is a quaint little village 20 miles north of Minneapolis, currently home to 17, 142 individuals, a mere 86% of them white folks. It's been known as the Halloween Capital of the World, due to the early festivals, parades and community activities around the holiday, which were instituted on a civic level to stem the rampant tide of hooliganism and outright juvenile tomfoolery. Our high school sports teams are named the Tornados, due to that one tornado we had. Garrison Keillor, author and radio monologist went to my high school, as did former Miss America and Fox News personality Gretchen Carlson. Oh, and Michelle Bachman. Try as we might, we can't forget Michelle Bachman. (Shudder...wince...)

And now they have a brewery, and because there is a brewery, we must go there and drink it's beer.
It's at 2005 2nd Avenue, right in the heart of downtown, and has a 3-barrel system, and opened to the public late last fall. I've heard mixed reviews, and even been flat-out warned against trying them. To those who suggested that I skip this one, I direct you to the first sentence of this paragraph. I will drink from all the breweries, and give you my report. Thanks in advance for your opinions, but this is a project of my experiences, and the beers I will drink, at all the breweries, no exceptions.

And because of the so-so reception, we walk in a little cautious. We have also been to two breweries earlier in the day and have had a lot of beer in us. My interest in taking studious notes on our
imbibings had waned considerably. I decided on the Minnesota Nice Pale Ale, because I like pale ales and there thing here seemed to be based on Minnesota Nice. The slogan is: "Nice beer. Nice people." I always thought that oddly simplistic. They say more, though: "Our beer is 'Brewed in the Land of 10K Lakes', and that means something to us. It means Minnesota values." Okay, got it. Niceness. But, were their detractors wrong, and their beer wasn't nice? One correspondent placed their quality along the level of that one brewery in Rochester. Was he right?

Um, no. There wasn't a thing wrong with it. A tasty, hoppy, smooth and drinkable pale ale. Once we knew that 10K, from this first taste at least, would not enter the ranks of the Fearsome Foursome, I was more relaxed and did not press pen to paper. I walked around the attractive space. Here's the where the music happens, there's the merch, over there's the board games, cool spots for hanging out with friends, and there's the small brewing set-up. We were there, it was Nice, and it didn't suck.

Next, I went for a Vanilla Oatmeal Milk Stout, "A local favorite! Don't let it's dark demeanor fool you. This stout is brewed with milk lactose for silky smoothness. Oatmeal gives it body. Vanilla adds flavor and aroma." 5.7% ABV, 22 IBU. It was tasty stuff, and I enjoyed it. So far, 2 for 2. Jason picked the new ESB, and if memory serves me correctly, he wasn't wowed, but neither did he choke on it, or lose his lunch. (You'll have to chime in here, Jason.)

I was so relaxed by the niceness of it all, I didn't delineate in my notes that I'd attempted a third, but there it is in my photo collection, and I guess I checked into it on Untappd. (Yikes, if it's this hard remembering five weeks ago, how about when I tackle the lost visits of 4 months past?) That would have been IP-Eh? 2.0, their 6.4% ABV, 74 IBU IPA, and I liked it. "A well balanced IPA. Not too bitter and not too malty. Punch in your face hops was not the goal of this beer. We prefer smooth and crisp." And you know what" It is. Nice IPA. Real Nice.Yah, sure, you betcha, ....
IP-Eh? India Pale Ale.

We had a nice conversation with a our bartender, who is also a brewer, as well as some folks at the bar. One woman asked if I'm from there. Oh, yes, a long time ago. Sure, I'm originally from there, but I found Minneapolis more to my liking 28 years ago, and that's my true hometown, now. It's was great to see it again, bathe in the relaxing glow of nostalgia, and try to remember what was. It's not at all how I remembered it, of course. I tried to visit an antique store, and walked into a vaping establishment.

We left dear old Anoka town, and I took with me a growler of the India Brown Ale, which I did take notes on. 6.9% ABV., 69 IBU. Notes follow:

Dark  brown coloring, lush tan head, lace-leaving, nice looking.

Cocoa in the nose, grassy hops creep in from behind.

In the mouth, big malt, rich and tasty, more cocoa on the tongue.
nicely bittersweet, ending dryly on the palate. Clean, dry finish.

I don't think of this as a "true" India Brown Ale, but what the heck is that, anyway. Do I just want this brown ale to be even happier. Am I not content with 69 IBUs?

Well, no matter. It's a good beer, and I can drink it. In fact, I like it.

Final thoughts: I'm glad that whatever glitches that 10K apparently had are behind them now, and that Minnesota Nice isn't just a fake smile and a how do you do, but quality beers, as well. I'd go again, and get that growler filled up with something new, for sure.


Joe said...

Good to hear. They are bringing some good beer to dt Anoka and have created a unique and wonderful space. Yes, the beer has improved a lot since first opening.

I spent my first 35 years in Minneapolis, then Central Mn and now Anoka for my last 4 years. A little symmetry compared to your background.

One of the best things about the brewery? I can walk there.

AL MCCARTY said...

Thanks for sharing! I appreciate your comments.

Jason B said...

Fog of time... can't really recall, other than there was no issue as far as "choking it down" is concerned... it was good, but a little sweeter than I like. It was just a little off-balance. Nothing bad - I think i just preferred NorthGate (Parapet) and Badger Hill's MSB to it. I'd add Summit's ESB, but that's going WAY too far back to make any kind of comparison.

One of my friends recently moved from Brooklyn Center to Champlin Park, right between Omni (where he promptly joined their Mug Club) and 10K. Based on the 1x1 visits to both, that's not a bad place to find oneself.

Finding Oliphant...and Jabba da J IPA

Jonathan is ahead of me, as we enter the halls of Oliphant. The Oliphant logo, whatever it is (elephant? alien? African? Native Americ...