Our first stop was Pour Decisions Brewing Company, located conveniently close to Grumpy's where the competition was being held. The brewery was established back in 2011, but hit quite a bit of delay red tape mayhem. Then the Surly Bill passed allowing tap rooms in breweries, causing more delay as they fit this into their plan. I remember reading a write-up on them in an issue of Zymurgy way back and was wondering what had happened to them! They opened this last fall, and I first got to try one of their beers at Autumn Brew Review. The brewery was formed by Kristen England and B.J. Haun: two excellent homebrewers from the area who have taken home a boat-load of homebrew medals over the years. Kristen is the guy who runs the UMMO and I've been able to get to know him over the years. I've been really looking forward to trying more of his commercially produced beers, but haven't had time to make the trek to the East Side.
|Ok, I might have made this look more 70's on purpose...|
Located in a 1970's looking commercial office and warehouse park, the only reason we found it was a small sign pointing out the way out by the street. There is the world's tiniest ghetto paper sign in the window--look close or you may end up walking into some Carpet supply place! I'm guessing that they hope to invest in a nice sign at some point, but putting out good beer comes first. Priorities!
The brewery itself is much like any production brewery: Boil kettle, mash tun, large conical fermenters, kegs, hoses, bottles. I didn't get a tour of the workings, but you can see the whole place--just one large warehouse room. There was a cool mural of a northern pike striking at a lure on one wall that was painted by Jake Keeler of Brewing TV fame, but my picture didn't do it justice so I didn't post it. In one corner they have an unusually shaped wooden bar for tasting. This has a nice shiny epoxy coating that must make clean-up easy. There is some spill-over seating in tall long table as well as a stand-up bar area along one wall. Granted several of us from the UMMO were here to visit, but based on how busy this place was while we were there I think they are going to need to consider expanding the tasting area at some point!
Kristen's wife Orsi and another very helpful lady whose name I didn't catch were busy serving beers at the bar and entertaining us hooligans. I was able to sample the beers to decide what I wanted to buy, then you could order small or larger sized glasses of your favorite. The Patersbier was a very pleasant and strongly aromatic Belgian ale of lower than typical strength, aimed at cloning the lower alcohol beers that the monks would typically drink day to day. My favorite was the Pubstitute: a low gravity (3.1% ABV!) session beer with a lot of flavor and a darker color. Infinitely drinkable, I could go through a lot of this beer--and took home a growler of it for later! They also have been expanding into bottling some beers and had the Acerbity (a traditional Berliner Weisse) available to buy in the bottle. Several folks were drinking that at the bar, with all the flavor syrups traditionally used in Germany to flavor the tart base beer. I had my fill of sours the previous night so held off, but I took home a bottle for later to share with Sj.
I had a great time hanging out at the bar with Jeff and some of the other folks from the Mash Out and tasting these wonderful beers. I can honestly say that these guys know their beers and are making some unusual styles to find their niche in the increasingly crowded Minnesota craft beer scene. I'm excited to see what Kristen and BJ come up with next and would love to know what their future plans are. Both brewers are legitimate scientists (with PhD's and everything) and have really put this knowledge to work in the production of these beers. If you find yourself up near Roseville, or really anywhere in St. Paul, during open hours--stop by the brewery and check them out. I highly doubt you will be disappointed!
Addendum 5/2014: Pour Decisions is no more. Kris England remains head brewer for Bent Brewstillery however.