Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Minnesota Breweries One by One #83: Fulton, Minneapolis

I've had a little secret for a few months now. Whenever I mentioned how many breweries I've been to so far, I've always given the wrong number. I'd been to Fulton, but hadn't taken photos or notes or anything, just hung out for a while as I was in the neighborhood, so it wasn't an official visit intended for one of these reports. But, I still had been there, so there was always that little lie. Last Thursday was a day off and I decided it was high time to head up to Fulton and make them #83.

Fulton has appeared here in the Nib fifteen times so far (you can read them right here), and I've tried to review every beer that they put out (excepting taproom only beers, and missing out completely on that Wheaties beer...never even saw it in a store.). They emerged in 2009, very early on in the Minnesota craft beer explosion, with the beers initially being contract brewed elsewhere. The brewery in downtown Minneapolis came about in 2012 or '13, with the taproom opening soon after. Early on in their existence, I had a problem with their motto: "Ordinary guys brewing extraordinary beer." Not that guys weren't ordinary, but I couldn't really say that the beers were extraordinary. Good, yes. Extraordinary? Maybe not so much. But it wasn't easy to be hard on them, for the beers were so well liked and those guys are really nice, too.

All the Fulton goodness. 
However, these days the beers are becoming a little closer to  extraordinary. There are some very capable hands at work. And more and more, there are interesting beers at the taproom you can't find anywhere else. So I did the 5 mile bike ride from my home to downtown Minneapolis and pulled up to 414 6th Avenue N., under the shadow of the Twins Stadium, locked my bike, headed in and bellied up to the bar. There were a minimum of seats, so I pulled my belly back and took it to a table. The first beer I chose was called Parallel Paradise, which was a collaboration with Modist
Parallel Paradise. 
for the recent In Cahoots event. The menu board told me that it was 5.5% ABV and 13 IBU, but nothing else. I did a small amount of research and came up with nothing. I took my notes on it at my table, scratching my head all the while. They went like this: "Amber, light body, light hops, delicate, nuanced, clean, dry, lemon-y, refreshing." And I like it, but I just couldn't figure it out. Only later did I learn that it is "cocktail-inspired", but which one? If you know, fill me in.

Next I went with the new Tanager Brett IPA, and I'm guaranteed to be interested in any beer with that appellation. I wasn't even slightly disappointed. Funky, wild, and wonderfully weird. Fiercely hoppy, and utterly satisfying. This is a Fulton beer? So outside of what they've been know for before, so very not "safe", and definitely delicious.

I sat at my little table taking my little notes, when suddenly Fulton sales manager, and general cool guy Ben Flattum got up from his, and asked if I would join he and his friends on a little tour of the barrel-aging program. Naturally, I replied,
Barrels and tanks.
and off we went into the brewery space. Most of the beer production is being done in their larger facility in NorthEast Minneapolis, and these racks of barrels of different sources and former uses are taking more and more space. Let me impress upon you with great urgency how I can't wait to try them. If you can keep a secret, we didn't have to wait, as Ben opened up a bottle of the yet un-released bourbon barrel-aged Libertine Imperial Red ale, and started filling our glasses. I will merely tell you it was one of the best beers I've had in a very long time at leave it at that, and tell you more very soon when I open my own bottle.

Watch out for this when it hits the shelves and
do not hesitate to buy it. 

I got one more pint while at the taproom, nearly closing out the beers I'd never had. (I did not try the new Standard Lager. I'm sure it's good for what it is, but what it is isn't what I want. I'll try it soon.) That final pint was a special beer made in connection with a group called Friends of the Mississippi and it's name, 72 Stretch, refers to the length of the great river that passes through the Twin Cities Metro Area. The water that goes into Fulton's beer (and every beer brewed in Minneapolis), comes from that source, so they have a keen interest in it's preservation. 72 Stretch is a Gose, a sour
72 Stretch Gose
German-style wheat ale, flavored with lemon and lime zest, and was as tart, smooth and refreshing as that sounds. No notes taken, as I was no longer sitting studiously with pen and book, but instead hanging out and hearing Ben's stories, chatting with new acquaintances.

As it gets later, the taproom gets more and more raucous, as many of them do. When the Twins are playing, the place fills up before, after and during the game, and the TVs are on, the fans are shouting, and the players are called many things, and the umpires even more. I took my final growler (MN law states that brewing companies that produce more 20, 000 may not sell growlers, for reasons that remain baffling, and Fulton has surpassed that recently), and my gifts from Ben and shuffled off into the night. But I will be back, Fulton, if you keep putting out so many terrific taproom only beers.
 Truthfully, there were others that tempted me, too. Not just Worthy Adversary, but War & Peace, the coffee version of their Imperial Stout, and Patience, the barleywine? These were beers I desperately wanted to drink! However, I had other places to go, and more beers to drink (the other place I was going also had an Imperial Stout and a barley-wine as well), and it was getting dark, and I couldn't risk any accidents, with all the beers in my pack.
As Ben showed me such a good time during this random visit, it wouldn't be fair to only show his back. So, here's a pic I took at the Great Taste of the Midwest in Madison, Wisconsin, back in August, with Fulton co-owner Bryan Hoffman (center), and some other guy. Cheers, Ben, Bryan, and other guy!

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Great post! And thanks for mentioning the water connection. Fulton's a great Brewing Clean Water partner. We'll be sure to share.
Best, sue at Friends of the Mississippi River

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