Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Brewery Review: LynLake Brewing

One of my New Year's resolutions this year was to get out of the house and visit some of the glut of new breweries that have opened in Minnesota over the past year.  Once upon a time even the rumor of a new brewery would get me all exited and riled up.  Now, I can't even keep some of these newcomers straight in my head.  Am I getting lazy, old and crotchety?  Perhaps.  But I will also say that like a fine barleywine, I like to let a new brewery mature and mellow a bit before I try it out.  My oldest friend Bryan was in town recently and we took the opportunity to visit three breweries in one day.  Our first stop was the recently opened LynLake Brewery, just at the edge of Uptown and literally right next door to The Herkimer.

The brewery itself is in the Historic LynLake Theater, and makes good use of the wide-open space.  Stepping into the building from the bitter Minnesota cold, I was hit by a blast of blessed heat and the roar of an agitated crowd of NDSU fans watching a game on the big-screen TV.  Those who know me well know I'm the opposite of a sports guy, so sports bars are not my bag.  I was a little concerned about the noise at first, but at an empty high-top table near the rear of the taproom we discovered a lee in the storm of raised voices.

The bar is central to the brewery, forming a large rectangle.  Above the bar are hanging light fixtures dangling from old bike tires at several different levels, forming a large found-art mobile effect.  The staff seemed very friendly at the bar.  Between Bryan, my wife Sj, and myself, we split two samplers so we could try most of the beers and took them back to our table.  I really like the solid copper tubing sampler trays--they are unlike anything I've seen before!

While we started working our way through the beers, I took stock of the rest of the brewery.  Behind us, at the back of the space was the stainless steel brewhouse and rows of conical fermenters, cordoned off with appropriate red theater ropes.  A few walls were tagged with a kaleidoscope of riotous colors and patterns in spray paint, bringing a bit of "street" into the place.

The beers were an interesting mix of styles from the obligatory but well crafted PonyBoy Gold to the oaty Rubbish amber.  I didn't really love the Take 6 IPA due to its harsh astringency--like someone mixed lemon cleanser into the fermenter with the dry-hops.  Other than the IPA, I felt that all the beers we had were respectable examples of the styles they were going for with minimal off flavors.  The only one that really got me going though was the Peach Treat.  That was a peach flavored smoked beer that should have been so wrong, but turned out so right!  All three of us fought like hungry dogs over that tiny sampler glass.

Overall, I had a good time hanging out at LynLake with my peeps.  I do think that they are making credible beers here now, but until I got to the Peach Treat would not have strongly recommended the place over several other local breweries.  The vibe is nice, and the space is a cool one.  I'm interested to see what these guys do over the coming year and will certainly stop in next time I'm in Uptown.

Already a weird mural, but I pointilizied it just because I could...

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