Sunday, March 8, 2015

Minneapolis, Spring 2015, Part 1: Fair State Brewing Cooperative

Since (or perhaps even before) opening in September last year, Fair State Brewing Cooperative has been getting a lot of buzz from Minneapolis beer geeks. Certainly, the progressive co-op model is somewhat rare among breweries and offers some cachet, but it’s the beer made here that has locals crowing.

We visited just around opening time on a Friday afternoon. A long narrow room, with high ceilings that give it an open feel, and a sort of a clean, bare bones, and understated décor of scrubbed bricks and an old wooden floor. A large section of one wall is filled with large photos of the many co-op owners (who will get a hand in the brewing process); on the other side, there is a space for darts and also a selection of board games. There are bar seats for around 15 people; tables and long benches for maybe 40-50.

A very cool set of three electronic tap list menu boards sit above the bar, offering rotating descriptions of the beers on tap, as well as upcoming events and even Twitter feeds. 

Weirdly, there was classic rock, soul, and disco on the sound system; this seemed out of character for the place. Ten taps going, and a good variety of styles were represented. Half-pints for $3; pints for $5. No sampler sets available, unfortunately.

To be honest, I find the coop/crowd source brewing plan a bit worrisome. I’m not sure if it really means that all members will be able to influence the brewing, but it does not seem like the way you want to have your beer made -- the brewing design and production should probably be left to the experts.  However, I recently read an interview with the head brewer, in which he said that it would be limited to one brew twice a year or perhaps quarterly.

Fair State India Pale Ale (IPA - 6.4%)     3.4 out of 5.0
Mildly dank hop nose, citrus/pine mix. Light medium straw color, some lace. Chewy malt initial, good hop blend emerges, and it goes to balance slowly, with some good hop tracks in the finish. Medium-heavy body. A clean, flavorful, and fairly well-mannered IPA.

Fair State LÄCTOBÄC: One (Sour/Wild Ale - 5.9%)     3.3
A sourish floral aroma, crushed weeds, cat piss, and some nutty notes. Hazy light straw color with good lace. Very small sour initial flavor, apples, yogurt. Thin body, with a tiny bit of astringency. Not too bad, but rather thin and understated.

Fair State The Winkelman (Imperial/Double IPA - 8.4%)     3.4
A decent grapefruit nose, in front of the caramel base. Light hazy peachy straw color. Tangy initial, moderate bittering, rough ripe dates. Lightly vegetal in mid palate. Moderate hop tracks in the finish. Medium body. Nice enough. Doesn’t really bomb off in any one direction. It seems less of an imperial than a simple regular IPA.

Fair State Vienna  (Amber Lager/Vienna 5.2%)     3.5
Creamy malt nose, light roast, and some mild grassiness. Clear copper/straw color. Solid malty initial, rich caramel, a bit fizzy. Medium body. Well-balanced and well-constructed Vienna.

2506A Central Ave NE
Minneapolis, Minnesota United States 55418
612 444 3209

M/W/Th: 4-11pm
Fri: 4-Midnight
Sat: Noon-Midnight
Sun: Noon-9pm

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