Saturday, October 22, 2016

Minnesota Breweries One by One #87: Insight Brewing, Minneapolis, with Siren Song for a Lost Satyr

October. My favorite month of them all. After April, actually. And all the warm months, I think I like them better. But, yes, October, still my favorite U2 album, and song.

"October, and the trees are stripped bare, of all they I care?"

Ah, Bono, the Bob Dylan of the 80's. And today!

Insight Brewing, 2821 Hennepin Avenue N.
So, it's October, and I've vowed to close the gap on the local breweries I haven't visited yet for this project before it becomes too difficult to bike to them. And on Sunday, October 2, I got on my Raleigh and rode to Insight Brewing in NorthEast Minneapolis. I took a different route this time, choosing wisely to avoid my previous method of going through downtown to Hennepin Avenue and all the way to 2821 Hennepin. This time I took the river trails all the way to the Dinkytown Greenway bridge into Dinkytown, 15th to Como, then a few blocks to...poof, there it is, Hennepin, and look over there, it's Insight.

Under the steel renditions of the logos,
colorful paintings of adventure join the scenery.
This was probably my 4th visit to Insight, my first being on opening night in the fall of 2014. It was an impressive space, and clearly well-funded, with brand-spanking new tanks and a spacious taproom. I liked the beers then, but didn't return again until the next June, where I took home a growler of one of their beers, and you can read about that here. But the next time I stopped in that September, they'd changed their logo (and I can't think of anyone who didn't hate it) and the beer names had changed and the look of the branding had gotten a full makeover. It was then that I reviewed the cherry saison, Doe Eyes, readable here. Around this point, the canning began, and I've been trying to keep up with them, but have missed a few along the way. (Next time, Phantom Taxi.) And if you sort through the list of beers I've reviewed, you'll see that some have come from samples I've received. I like the beers of Insight, and I try to include them among the rotation on tap at Acadia.  They're about overdue to return, it's just hard to juggle all the locals that I like.

The Bedeviled Gourd
And, naturally, there are beers that the taproom that you just can't get elsewhere. With that in mind, I settled into my stool at the wide, curving bar and choose a little something called The Bedeviled Gourd, a smoked pumpkin beer. I took the following minimalist notes: "Smoked veg, big smoke, rich malt, dark fruit fighting with smoke. Hm." I drank it, but I didn't really enjoy it. I tried to find a trace of it on their website, but it's missing. Have they decided to wipe it from existence? I found this on rate "Apart from many pumpkin beers produced today, we brewed up this smokey brew and added fresh pumpkin and just a small dash of pumpkin spice to let you know that Fall is on the way. Crisp, clean, and unique." I don't know about crisp and clean, but it was bit too unique for me. Ah, well, they can't all be winners.

Next on to a raspberry infused saison called Fungivorous. This one had much more appeal. Blessed with a pinkish tint, it tasted fresh, lightly tart, fruity and flat out delicious. Here's their official gobbledygook on it: "Pouring with a deep ruby hue and an off-white head, the raspberry is dominant in this brew. Aromas of sweet berries and fruity Belgian esters dance in unison as they lead toward a sweet, fresh raspberry flavor, finally finishing slightly tart and crisp. The overall body is dry, leaving you wanting your second sip faster than you could reach for your first."

Also available was the blackberry saison, which I brought home and took notes on below. Maybe the fruity saison will prove to be Insight's forte'? After all, the white wine grape infused saison In The Halls of the Sunken City is one of their flagship brews.

Banshee Cutter Coffee Golden Ale. 
Phil rings up orders under the vast collection
of Minnesota's growlers. 
Next up, I went with a new beer that they've released in cans, but I've not yet picked up (nor received a sample, ...ahem...), the Return Voyage of the Banshee Cutter, a coffee golden ale. The light colored coffee beer style (if it is such a thing) was something I first encountered at Birch's on the Lake back in May (I promise, report coming very soon!...I know, I always say that, but this time I really mean it), and was amazed by, then shocked and awed by Modist's First Call soon after. As for this one, I thoroughly enjoyed it, but took no notes of any significance. I was distracted by conversations with the people I knew behind the bar at the time. Time to get a can and give it my full attention, I think.

I finished off my visit to Insight with a glass of the raspberry saison, Lost Satyr, or "Siren Song for a Lost Satyr" (they've got to give them all those exciting chapter names). I'm going to skip the notes taken then and defer to those written when I opened up a bottle a week later. Despite this, I'll share the picture taken of the beer, because it looks better than the one I took at home.

Lost Satyr blackberry saison.

It's a cool place, this Insight taproom, and it draws in a lot of people, with a wide range of activities, from music to trivia and such. And the requisite board games stacked on a shelf over by the restrooms. Ever wonder why the board game thing got so popular at taprooms, but not so much at bars? What's the thinking there, that taproom-goers need an activity to engage with one another, but bar patrons are content to wallow with their booze or stare at the ol' boob tube? These are the questions that puzzle my mind, you know.

On such a sunny October Sunday, why am I inside?
Perhaps I just didn't want to walk in and back out to
get my beers? That's gotta be it. 
I know a lot of folks at Insight, and I think they're doing good work and having fun doing it. I'm anticipating more, though.  I believe they've only scratched the surface of what they're capable of producing. And I'll keep checking them out to see how they get there.

Notes on 750 ml bottle of Siren Song for a Lost Satyr, Saison & Blackberries, 2016 Vintage. 7.5% ABV, 35 IBU.

Perfectly plummy, raspberry-ish hue, pleasantly pink foam above.

Nose: not too sweet, not too tart, just right, nice and fruity. Altogether lovely.

In the mouth: big blackberry, slightly sour, just a touch. Medium bodied, long bitter/sour finish, and never-ending fruit. Pretty nice. Good work, Insight. Tasty stuff. I'll be back for more.

Here's their gobbledygook: The sweet fruitiness and hint of spice from the saison mingle with the tartness of the blackberry to create a unique and wonderful blend of flavors. No expense was spared with this celebration of blackberries.

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