Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Minnesota Breweries One by One #62: Wild Mind Artisan Ales

With this post, I'm going to do something unusual in this series. I paid a brewery a visit a mere three days after they opened, and am publishing my report only nine days after the fact. Wild Mind Artisan Ales opened Thursday, July 28 at 6031 Pillsbury Avenue in Minneapolis, and I'd heard good things from the start. I had no plans on my Sunday off, so away I went. Off to the very edge of town, all the way to the southern-most neighborhood in the city, Windom, just before we hit Richfield, with it's field of riches.

The spot didn't advertise itself very loudly. I'm at 60th and Pillsbury, there are people inside, it seems, some out on the patio, but no sign announcing the name of the business. However, there were barrels about, and a hot dog stand curiously named "Farmhouse" in the corner. This must be the place. As I walked up to the door, the sight of three massive foudres on their side and one standing proudly up confirmed it. Turn to the right and see a version of their logo painted on the wall, keep going into the taproom, with all the happy beer drinkers. It's a Sunday afternoon, and there are loads of families, kids and dogs. It's a family neighborhood, Windom, and that aspect will always be a part of this taproom, I'd imagine.

I take a seat and peruse the tap list. There are five beers available currently, though there are sixteen faucets, one of them nitro. This brand new taproom has a bare bones feel just now, and I'm keenly anticipating how they grow into the space. I've read that their plan is to do about 70% wild and sour ales in the Belgian tradition, with the rest left for pale ales, stouts and such. The first five are mostly saisons, but there's enough variations among them to keep things interesting. All five, it should be noted, were stainless steel fermented. Plenty of time for barrel-aging and foudre fermentation down the road.

Farmhouse Table Beer. 

I chose first the Farmhouse Table Beer, 3.9% ABV, 25 IBUs. A slightly musty/funky nose, with flavors of spice, citrus and straw on the palate. Fresh, zesty, and delicious, going down nice and easy. Their description: "Dry, unpriced unfiltered table beer that is light, peppery, with citrus notes of lemon and grapefruit." Like all their other pints, it was $5, with the 12 ounce pours going for $6.

Hoppy Rye Wild Ale. 
I moved on to Hoppy Rye Wild Ale (and I do wish they'd name the beers, at some point), 7.5% ABV, 30 IBU. What makes it wild? I asked one of the owners, and what are these microflora they speak of? They're out there harvesting yeast in the wild, that's what it means. I liked the look of this one and the pleasant, soft aromatics. There's the tingle of tropical & citric hop notes in the mouth, getting hoppier and zestier as we proceed. Spicy, earthy, solid, tasty. Constant hoppy zing.
Their notes: "Stainless steel fermented, brewed with our house blend of yeast and local microflora and hopped with Citra and Motueka, this wild ale leaves a long, dry, earthy palate with loads of grapefruit, orange and lime notes." Might have been my favorite of the bunch.

House Saison.
Next up, I jumped back on the list to the House Saison, 5.5% ABV, 25 IBUs. Mild aromatics, clean
and smooth, crisp and biscuity malt character, plenty of yeast action, lightly citrusy, good beer and you can drink it. Most of the opinions that I listened to pinned this one down as a favorite. Their notes: "Our everyday beer, this dry, unspoiled saison is fermented with two of our house strains of yeast that evoke flavors and aromas of old citrus groves. "

Dark Farmhouse Ale.
Lastly, I tackled the darkest of the bunch, the plainly put Dark Farmhouse Ale. 7%, 25 IBUs. My notes read thusly: Chocolate notes, light roast, light hops, long finish, roasty and malty.  They say this: "Brewed with our house blend of yeast and local microflora at cooler temperatures, this farmhouse ale is dark, smooth, and roast-y with light citrus notes." My second favorite pick of the litter, perhaps. (The Hoppy French Saison went untried. Another reason to return.

As noted earlier, one of the owners (the one who isn't the brewer) was behind the bar, Jason, I think, and he'd
recognized me from the pictures I include with the blog (and it's Twitter page). This was the second time that had
We'd spent some time outside, but the heat was too much
that day and we went in to avoid the sun.
happened that week, and it happened again, recently. Should I wear a disguise so that I may roam about undetected, I wondered? Only if I have bad things to report, I guess. I certainly don't expect any special treatment, but it's nice when bourbon barrel imperial stout appear out of nowhere and reach our lips before the general publics. I assured him that everything was fine, and that technically these beers were perfect. It was only their third day of operations, and I can only imagine things getting more interesting as things progress. Once they get those big oak tanks filled, there's going to be some fun, then.

Which brings me to some criticism I've seen, where folks are disappointed that they didn't have more sour ales. Well, no one opens their doors with sour ales. Unless they own their own building and have a great deal of patience. You start with beer. After you have that, go on and age some and twist some around and funk some up. And in the meantime, you let people inside and sell it to them. This allows you to pay your rent. And then, the experimentation can continue.

I spent my time that afternoon between sitting at the bar and joining the company of my friends Andrew and Nicole, who live in the neighborhood and had friends of their own joining them. I'd be pretty thrilled to have an operation like this in my neighborhood, though I'm not that far away for it to be a concern. While I sat at the bar, I heard a litany of questions and comments from other customers, chief among they "will you have growlers?" And the owner  continued to say, no, maybe never. They may want to rethink that. It seems like turning off a perfectly good revenue stream, and folks love have a neighborhood brewer they can walk to, and take a growler home from. I would love that option, certainly. Growlers or not,  I'll keep checking in on Wild Mind Artisan Ales to see what else they've got cooking.


DeKay5555555 said...

It is freehockin' cold and I am up early and . . . I am drinking some Wild Mind Amaryllis. I was really struck by the too hot to drink outside comment.

-18ºF 8:15 am 12-18-2016

Anyway, I love this place and I live close enough. It is hard to go anywhere else when you find that you crave their beer and they are not open Mon-Wed.

They have come a long way in 5 months.

Try the Race Dog

Thanks for writing this blog. I tell every beer drinker I know about it.

AL MCCARTY said...

thank you very much.

Minnesota Breweries One by One #62: Wild Mind Artisan Ales

With this post, I'm going to do something unusual in this series. I paid a brewery a visit a mere three days after they opened, and am...