David and Goliath, the 1980 US Hockey team, Apple Inc., Seabiscuit—what do these stories all have in common? The underdog prevails. Have you noticed the beer list at your local restaurant lately? Move over, Budweiser! The local brewery is gaining steam.
Two weeks ago our neighbor Fulton Beer started distributing six packs across the metro area and a few of us were lucky enough to make it to their bottle launch at The Four Firkins (a very cool store in St. Louis Park, MN where you can buy all sorts of brews from around the United States and the world. I will definitely be going back.) At the launch they offered a tasting of Lonely Blonde and Sweet Child of Vine. Now I am not a beer aficionado, but I do enjoy a cold brew now and then. I was not disappointed. Here are my reviews:
Lonely Blonde – An American Ale with great flavor and body.
My first reaction: What a happy, hoppy, blonde! The carbonation was pleasant and not overdone. It has a smooth finish with a nice hint of bitterness. My IN team member Beth’s reaction, “I like it! I would drink a glass… at least” seemed right on target. For those of you who are little nervous to step out of the safe world of generic beer from a mammoth brew house and into the wonderful world of full flavored craft beers, you should see what’s on tap and order a Fulton Lonely Blonde. It’s not cloudy or a weird color, and the flavor isn’t so strong or different that you’ll be running back to your Miller. The brew has definitely got crowd appeal– I don’t think this blonde will be lonely much longer.
Sweet Child of Vine – An IPA that pleases people who don’t even like IPAs.
Admittedly, I’m not a huge IPA fan. I don’t like it when hops kick me in the mouth and leave me wishing I’d stuck with my tried and true friend, Guinness. Nevertheless I wanted to go into this tasting with an open mind… and I’m so glad I did! The hops had a citrus vibe that was completely unexpected. This beer really lives up to its name– so much so that Beth fondly referred to Sweet Child of Vine as “Cider Beer 3.0.” The finish was clean and the flavor was well balanced, reminiscent of apples. It shocked me to find out how much I liked it, so I asked a Fulton representative what the secret was. He told me that they had a strong malt body to balance out the hops and offered this little nugget of Fulton wisdom: complexity and well-balanced flavors are not mutually exclusive. They seem to have gotten it right. This beer is a gem! Sweet Child of Vine may be my stepping-stone into the world of India Pale Ales, because I walked out with a six-pack that night.
Beyond Fulton Beer, there are several breweries around the Twin Cities that I’m sure would love your support as they take on the big guys.
Finnegans (100% of the profits go towards eliminating hunger. Awesome.)
Flat Earth Brewing Co.
Pig’s Eye Brewing Co.
Summit Brewing Co.
Surly Brewing Co.
(List from mnbeer.com)