Saturday, September 29, 2012

Fulton Beer (Minneapolis, MN)

Finally, the stars aligned and I made it to Fulton Brewery for a tour and for some drafts. The Minnesota Home Brewers toured last Monday night as a club, which is always my first choice for doing a tour.  However, I was feeling ill and had to miss it. Since they club obviously wouldn't be doing Fulton again for a while, I capitulated and went by myself for the release of the fall seasonal, The Libertine, and for The Anchor Fish & Chips food truck.

There's pay parking all around the brewery, but it's with credit card or cash by machine and number. On a Saturday, it was just a quarter an hour.

I walked in a few minutes after noon and the place is already lively. I had to ask twice before finding the right person to sign up with for the tour, but finally got it. By quarter after noon, the tour for 1 pm was approaching half full, the 2 pm tour was empty, but a group had already signed up for the 4 pm tour. If you want to do a later tour, it seems to be fine to send someone to sign up and everyone can show up later.

View of bar from far side with The Libertine
My main mistake on the day was underestimating the temperature. The tap room today is outside temperature from a garage door being open to an old dock that has a railing now. Everyone else with fall jackets looked quite cozy drinking their beers.

Around the pub, barrels lazily sitting on racks on the wall opposite of the bar, and a mad assortment of long and square tables with a couple of high tops. Fulton doesn't win the award for matching decor, but it  doesn't seem like anyone cares.

What I assume is the original garage homebrewer set up that started the company (confirmed on the tour)  is proudly displayed on top of a large cooler. A large screen TV with football is above the bar to provide patrons with digital entertainment, as needed, but few care to look its way.  Retro rock tunes from high school are playing over top the din of friends chatting.  Fulton reminds me a lot of the Denver Beer Co, but smaller. So, pretty much a homebrewer's dream garage to brew and serve friends--except every beer is $5.

The Anchor Fish & Chips with Sweet Child of Vine
Since it's the new release, I started with The Libertine, an imperial red ale. Hazy amber in the goblet with copper edges in the light. Off white head falls without a lace around a nose that's rye and hop spicy, though the blend is hard to distinguish what comes from what. A thick caramel flows from the nose to tongue and ends with a rye kick. 8.5% shows some legs on the side of the glass and adds an oilness that's almost sticky to the taste. Very nice beer and can see why folks are coming out for it.

Also, there's three casks of The Libertine on various flavors: red oak, cherry and hard maple. Guy at the bar was drinking all four side by side--not a bad choice among them he said. Started with the red oak since it was more unusual: no head and the nose is muted, but the heavy oak came through in the taste, thick and chewy. Seems a bit much at first, but it's growing on me as the flavor washes away the original Libertine.

The food truck sit outside the door and bringing food in is welcome, but bringing your beer outside is not allowed. The doorman checking IDs nicely watched my beer while I got lunch, but groups were sending a representative to bring back food to the tables.  Most folks were eating fish and chips from The Anchor, but at least one family walked in with McDonald's.

I purposely saved getting a draft of Sweet Child of Vine to drink with my fish and chips, which was a very good plan on my part; however, not that hard of a call to drink and English styled IPA with fish and chips.  Out of time and room in my tank, I took home growlers of The Libertine, Sweet Child of Vine, and Lonely Blonde to compare at home this week.

Overall, a good day at Fulton that I plan to repeat in the future, especially the next time I go to a Twins game down the street from the tap room.

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