Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Minnesota Breweries One by One #57: The Freehouse, Minneapolis

It's Sunday, July 24, and I'm checking off another local brewery to complete this list. Which one? TheFreehouse brew-pub in the North Loop neighborhood of Downtown Minneapolis, part of the Blue Plate group of restaurants. This brewery appeared here in the Nib twice before, two years ago, as part of this little project,  and last year, for this one. This visit may have been my fourth or fifth, and my opinion hasn't changed about it much. It has a great location, and brews decent beer, but the clientele seems more interested in cocktails and wine. It's a restaurant first, that just happens to brew beer. Nothing wrong with that, and the beer is fine, but it's not really an atmosphere that says "pub" and doesn't really attract a craft beer crowd.

But they are a brewery, and I said that I would see all the breweries in the state of Minnesota during the year 2016, so I've got to check them off my list. I sat down at the bar, perused the offerings and chose No. 11, the Witbier. All the beers are numbered, and numbers 1-4 (Kolsch, IPA, Brown Ale  & Stout) are always available. The highest number I've seen is 50. (Last year, I noted that the highest number was 21. If that's true, then I'm impressed that they've done 29 new beers in the past year. If it's true.) I feel that I've had the Witbier before, and I believe that I was as satisfied with it then. This time I found an appropriately fruity, spicy, fresh aroma, a nice
wheat-y texture, smooth and refreshing, note perfect for a witbier. 5.4% ABV.10 IBU.

Next up, I tackled the Blueberry Blonde, because, why not? A distinctively fruity nose, more of the same in the flavor, light-bodied, easy drinking, not bad at all. Low hops, pleasant fruit, nice. 4.9%

At this point, I might note that while I applauded the number of beers produced here as a sign of creativity, productivity and turn-over of beers on-site, I also see from their website that the list of beers has not changed much at all since this visit one month and some ago. The Blueberry Blonde is still on, the Witbier, as well as the Tripel, which I skipped that time. There's an El Dorado single hop IPA on, but not the Simcoe IPA I tried. There really may be nothing to say, because they may have made a large batch, or a second one. Perhaps they're very popular? No way to say.

Moving on, my third beer was the 5% ABV Simcoe IPA, with a big citrus nose, booming grapefruit esters, medium-bodied, with juicy hop flavors. Smooth, crisp, and just about perfect for the style. I was very happy with this one, and was curious about the Tripel, but felt like it was time to move on, rather than have a fourth beer in one sitting. No, I would find that fourth beer elsewhere.

Here's a brewing concern in downtown Minneapolis that makes fine beer, but nothing terribly exciting. And the atmosphere seems more like a yuppie hangout than I'm comfortable with. Will I return to Freehouse again? If I'm in the neighborhood, and I absolutely have to stop for a beer and don't have time to make it to Fulton, or Modist and can't make it all the way down Washington Avenue for Town Hall.

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