Friday, August 19, 2016

Minnesota Breweries One by One # 63: Nutmeg Brewhouse, Burnsville

Some breweries start off with seasoned professional brewers, level-headed owners and managers, and a well-hewn plan. There's a wisdom and a system and a course from the start. And others, not so much. A few establishments open up and there's a whiff on them of the coat-tail rider and the johnny-come-lately. Rather than fulfilling a pent-up passion, they seemed to be in it for the money, and jumping on the bandwagon.

This was the perception of the Nutmeg Brewhouse restaurant and brewpub in Burnsville, which opened earlier this year. Many reported that their beers weren't very good, and the complaints fell on the management's deaf ears. "You need to have the beers with our food," they said. But, good food doesn't make up for terrible beer. (Were they saying "terrible"? I think they were.) We judge every new brewing concern on their beers, not on their food. And as we planned our trips in this project, Jason suggested that if we put off Nutmeg indefinitely, the market forces would perhaps eliminate them from the running and we'd be off the hook. But we didn't shy away from Kinney Creek, or Maple Island, or that other one I haven't written up yet, or Sidhe. We soldiered our way in, and we drank the beers, damn it.

Something better than that happened, though. The brewer of the bad beers went away, the restaurant poured only guest taps while they figured out their next steps, and found a new brewing team, led by JT Dalton, formerly of Barley John's Brewpub, and Brewing Company. New reports came out from friends and other trusted palates that everything was fine. And so, a plan was formed for the first Sunday in August, and we went out to the southern suburbs, starting with Nutmeg Brewhouse, 1905 County Road 42 W, eleven miles south of Minneapolis, population 60, 000-some (10th largest city in Minnesota!), a mere 77.5% of them of the caucasoid race of peoples. (I feel that I have to get all this information out there, after I've established it as one of my rituals, of sorts.)

At the brewpub, which prides itself as much for it's food, if not more, we met with our old friend Ryan Gregory, a current Burnsvillian. (Okay, that sounds weird. Burnsville-ite? Burnsygander? That's a particular nod to former Michigander Ryan.) We contemplated the current list: Banyan Summer Ale, a Belgian Pale Ale, the same on cask & dry-hopped, an Imperial White IPA, a California Common, and an IPA. Oh, and Founders Mosaic Promise IPA, if those weren't good enough for you.
Carouser Belgian Pale Ale. 
I went with the Carouser, 6.5% ABV, 31 IBU, and found it malt forward with an appropriate abundance of Belgian yeast, malt and spice. Smooth & slightly sweet, this hit all the right notes for an amber-y Belgian pale. Couldn't find a fault, but wasn't the type I'd return to twice.

Flintlock Imperial White IPA.
Flights are offered at Nutmeg, as well as smaller pours. I kept turning to the 10 ounce pours whenever possible, because we had two more breweries to hit up after this one. I picked the Flintlock Imperial White IPA for the second beer (10.3% ABV., 91 IBU), and that was a doozy. Hazy, amber-hued, nicely hopped, bright and loaded with citrus notes. Big and bountiful. Audacious, even. I kind of liked it.

Plank Walker IPA. 
At this time, our food arrived. We'd all arrived, independently, at the Chicken Tikka Skewers, and they were delicious. The culinary program at Nutmeg is squared strictly at the cuisines of former British colonies, for reasons unexplained, so that means Indian, Canadian (they have their version of poutine!), New Zealand, Australian (?), Taiwanese? , Maylasia, Scotland, etc. The menu has always been focused, it's the beer that needed real professional help, and so far, it's working.

I had one more, and that was the Plank Walker IPA (76 IBU, 7.5% ABV). Big hoppy nose, nice and fruity, big malt meets big hops, while remaining balanced. Definitely in the English-style of IPA. Tasty stuff. My kind of IPA, through and through, a beer I truly enjoyed. This is one I would choose again and again.

We had our beers, we had our bites, and it was
time to close this little chapter in our adventures and move further south to more new breweries in the not too distant suburbs. As for Nutmeg, hey, if you're in Burnsville, go for it, they've got good beer brewing!

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