Boom Island Brewing Company and tap room is located just north of downtown Minneapolis. Inspired by several trips to Belgium, Boom Island opened its doors in 2011 and has been serving up fresh, locally made, unfiltered and 100% bottle-conditioned Belgian style beer ever since. Never stop exploring.
Boom Island Brewing Company has decided to relocate to a new location – to be determined. It’s a business decision we were forced to arrive at based on the combination of the recent tragedy in the neighborhood and seven years of frequent hand-wringing regarding our safety and future as a company in our current location. We have persisted for 7+ years but the only way we will see another 7 is to move to greener pastures.
Any brewery located in a neighborhood where customers can arrive on foot has a much greater chance of success. Our current location is not only too small but has virtually no foot traffic, and that needs to change. One day this neighborhood will change for the better, yet we realize there is no easy solution to the challenges that face North Minneapolis. Think it’s easy? We met with police and elected officials over the years to discuss the matter. Their desire to help and support far outweighed their ability to provide a cogent solution. It didn’t get this way overnight and unfortunately, it is not possible to change the situation overnight.
Boom Island Brewing will remain open as a taproom and production brewery while we decide on our literal and figurative next move. As always, the beer will be great, the music will be carefully chosen and we will continue to say hello to every person who walks through the door. We have a long list of new beer releases and unique special events from now to the end of the year. Go to www.boomislandbrewing.com for more info.
Our hearts will always be in North Minneapolis even though our future address might suggest otherwise. Thanks for the ongoing support to all of our customers: past, present and future, as well as all the elected officials, Minneapolis Police and Fire, and neighborhood representatives and organizations who have expressed care and concern regarding our brewing family.
Silvius Brabowas a mythical Roman soldier who killed a giant in Antwerp, Belgium. The story goes like this: once upon a time there was a giant named Droun Antigoon, who asked for money from people to cross the only bridge over the river Scheldt. If they couldn’t pay, he would cut off their hand and throw it in the river. Silvius bravely fought the monster, cut off the giant’s hand and threw in the river. Everyone lived happily ever after. Today, you can see his statue in front of the Antwerp City Hall in the main square.
But what does that have to do with our Belgian Pale Ale? Before I answer that question, let’s first talk about Belgian Pale Ale, what might be one of the most under-recognized of the Belgian styles.
Pale Ales were brewed as early as the mid-1700s. But it took the popularity of German “light beers” to put Belgian Pale Ale on the map. In the 1800s light, clear and low alcohol German Lagers were extremely popular. Many European brewers rushed to try to imitate the new light beer style. The Belgian brewers had to come up with their own version of the new trend. They drew inspirations from British ales, used pale malts and Noble hops, but the yeast stayed truly Belgian. The “everyday” beer became more popular after World War II as a refreshing, malty and lightly hopped session beer.
Belgian Pale Ale (BPA) is a significant departure from its abbey beer cousins and is much less driven by esters, phenols, and alcohols. Instead, BPA relies more on the malt to carry the flavor. What really makes this beer is not just malt, but also the fruit esters. When properly balanced, this beer should be a showcase of bread, toast, biscuit, and caramel. It is (ironically) not pale, but rather, a nice, rich amber, with some examples settling solidly into the red range. It can also be more bitter than most other Belgian styles, though even a “bitter” Belgian beer isn’t going to come across that way.
A true example of Belgian Pale Ale is the city beer of Antwerp, De Koninck APA (Antwerp Pale Ale), that is also the inspiration of Silvius, our version of Belgian Pale Ale. Years ago, when having a brewery was just a wild dream of ours, Kevin and I took a trip to Belgium. On a very sunny afternoon, we stumbled upon the city festival in the center of the town in Antwerp. There was music, food, happy crowds and plenty of De Koninck, the refreshing, malty, lightly bitter Belgian Pale Ale. It seemed like the best beer in the world at that moment. Kevin declared that when he opens his brewery, the first beer shall be a Belgian Pale Ale! But we needed a name for the beer, and as we were trying to come up with some smart, sexy names for this beer, we took a selfie in front of the iconic statue of Silvius Brabo, the local legend hero. Then Silvius Belgian Pale Ale was born.
A note on the malt itself: without the malt of theDingemans Family Maltery in Stabroek, Belgium, Silvius would not exist. The Dingemans family, now in its 5th generation, started malting grain in 1875. Since then, Dingemans has shaped the flavor of beer in Antwerp, as well as all of Belgium. We are proud to know them personally and even more to proud to use Karl’s malts exclusively for all of our beer, including our beloved Silvius.
We are so happy to bring it back to the taproom. Enjoy while you can, this original Boom Island inspiration.
Minnesota is known as the “Land of 10,000 Lakes”. It is also known as one of the most bikeable cities in the U.S.. So it is only fitting that we plan an event featuring bicycles and organization doing amazing work for the cummunity through bicyles.
11AM Free Yoga class with YogaFit
But we will start the day with a free Yoga class with a certified Yoga instrustor from YogaFit Northeast location. It is simple, just bring a matt if you have one, a towel and a water bottle. All levels welcome.
Receive $1 off of your first beer when you Bike to Boom Days
Sturdy Bags, a Minneapolis Bag maker, will also be featuring local bags and bike accessories. Sturdy Bags features a collaborative design and meticulous construction to heighten the cycling experience.
1 – 5pm Full Cycle Bike Shop is a nonprofit bike shop in south Minneapolis that offers quality bikes and service to our community, and provides important resources and opportunities to young people experiencing homelessness.Got a bike collecting dust in your garage? Donate it! We are collecting “gently used” bicycles on Saturday, July 14 from 1-10pm. Don’t have a bike? Drop by and donate some cash – these people are amazing and help hundreds of kids each year.
1 – 5pm Our Streets Minneapolis, for better biking during the winter months in Minneapolis. Now is the time save up for one of those fat tire winter bikes. Now is the time to scope out a local shop that sells said bikes, and shop around a little. Saturday, July 14 is the time to attend a bicycle-centric Boom Days event, drink some Cuvée and fill out a postcard directed to the Minneapolis City Council to improve sidewalk cleaning during winter for bicyclists!
1 – 5pm Nice Bikes. You’ve seen them all over but never tried one? Stop by the Nice Ride booth and learn about Nice Ride stations near you, and exactly how easy it is to partake. Hop on a bike and start pedaling: your destination awaits.
1 – 5pm Recovery Bikes. This is another amazing bike shop who does more than just repair and sell bikes. They run a program called More than a Bicycle. They fix donated bikes and ship them to Africa. Parts of Africa are growing rapidly, but there are still serious infrastructure needs and the poorest of the poor are often left behind in a developing nation. In places where it exists even public transportation can be too expensive for a daily commute. Bicycles help pick up the slack. A bicycle can turn a three hour walk to the market into a half-hour errand.
Many of you know and love Boom Days. We pull all the stops to celebrate summer and beer. What makes Boom Days special is the beer, the very special beer: Cuveé de Boom. This year we sweeten the deal and will be releasing our Petite Rosé as well! Both will be available to take home in bottle form, with a limited amount each day of the event.
So what’s special about the beer? Cuvée de Boom is unhopped and oak aged. Cuvée consists of 45% Pinot Grigio grapes and 55% Belgian style blond ale. Specifically created for our annual Boom Days Festival, this blend awakens a nuanced palate for even the most sophisticated beer aficionado. Some people call it Wine Beer, we call it delicious!
We will be releasing the two beers on Friday July 13. At 4pm, we will tap Petite Rosé and at 6pm Cuveé de Boom will be released. Both beers will be on tap and in bottles.
Cuvée de Boom – 12.5%ABV Release at
Appearance – Fluffy white head, which quickly dissipates into a light champagne-like effervescent beverage.
Aroma – Light malt that interplays with white plum & grape aroma.
Flavor – Smooth mouth feel from the wine morphs into a collage of champagne with a hint of plum and lingers into an assertively dry finish.
Petite Rosé is similar to the Summer time version of the Cuvée, except with roughly half of the ABV, hence the “Petite” of its name. This beautiful beer is unhopped and consists of a hybrid of Belgian blond ale, Pinot Grigio and a dose of Cabernet Sauvignon. Deep ruby in color, the beer is fermented with a Champagne yeast strain. Imagine yourseld in the the Mediterranean sun when you have a glass in hand.
Petite Rosé – 6% ABV
Appearance – Shimmering, fluffy white head, deep ruby in color.
Aroma – Red grape and plum, light malt intermingles.
Flavor – A hybrid of Belgian blond ale and a tantalizing sparkling Rosé.
It would not be a beer release party with activites. Here is what we have planned for you. Do Bike to Boom, you will get $1 off on your first beer if you do!
For our 5th annual Boom Days summer celebration, we will be pulling out all the stops, and more than a few corks. It all begins on Friday evening with the much-anticipated release of Cuvée de Boomand Petite Rosé.
Cuvée de Boom is unhopped beer that consists of a blend of Belgian blond ale and Chardonnay. Petite Rosé is a delicious hybrid of Belgian strong ale and a tantalizing French Mediterranean Rosé. Both will be available on tap and in bottles during Boom Days while supplies last.
Visitors can also enjoy local bands and food trucks, take a yoga class, get their bicycles tuned up by Velofix Mobile Bike Repair or Tangletown Bikes, tour the Mississippi on an electric bike, enter a homebrew competition, learn about Belgian-inspired brewing.
I always wanted a beer that represents where I am from. A beer that reminds me of home and great times with friends. I want to make that connection and I want to share my story with you. I had the opportunity to sit down with a good friend Frank from the Minnesota Skinny who is always interested in finding stories like this. Instead of writing another blog post, I think I will just share with you what he has written. As always, he does a great job capturing every little detail. Cheers!
Making 明: The Story of Boom Island’s New Asian-Inspired Ale
Ask Boom Island Brewing Company co-owner Qiuxia Welch about beer back home and she’ll take you to the streets of Chengdu, a city of 14 million in the Sichuan Province of China. She’ll verbally serve you up some of that notorious Sichuan cuisine, known for deep flavors but also for the lip-numbing peppers. She’ll offer your imagination a fresh, light beer; a simple beer, but a rescue craft from the blazing delirium you’ve eaten yourself into.
Now, as the Minneapolis-based brewery cruises toward seven years in business, she and her husband – fellow co-owner and head brewer Kevin Welch – launched a beer that brings Qiuxia back to those Chengdu streets.
明 (Ming). It means “Clarity,” but it’s also how you say “Minnesota” in Chinese. The characters on the bottle’s label were drawn for them by a friend back in Chengdu – the original drafts were drawn up on rice paper with a horsehair feather pen and black ink.
“We talk about the connection with Belgian beer [here], but we also talk a lot about the culture here, being bilingual, multicultural, how we spoke Chinese here when we first came,” says Qiuxia. “To have a beer with a Chinese name, that means almost more than beer to me.”
Qiuxia lived in Chendgu from birth until she moved to the Twin Cities area in 1996 to pursue music studies at Augsburg College. She’s lived in the Cities more or less ever since; but, interestingly, she first met Kevin at a French horn symposium in Beijing (they’re both longtime horn players and have been involved in local orchestras, if you’ve ever wondered about the French horns in Boom Island’s branding).
“A bunch of weird geeky French horn players from all over the world get together for a week,” says Qiuxia. “All they think, drink, eat, whatever, is French horn. Lectures, conferences, exhibits. I thought, ‘Oh, I would never go to one of those things.’ I was never geeky like that … and Kevin had gone to every single one.”
That was the year 2000. By the end of 2001, Kevin and Qiuxia were married.
The Welches lived in China from 2005-2006, and it was during this time Kevin says an Asian-inspired beer was first imagined. His home-brewing adventure had begun long before that stay overseas, but his fascination with fermentation and yeast strains connected him with distillers in the rural countryside.
“None of [the operations were] commercial,” says Kevin. “It was all just, Grandma in the back room cooking it up on New Year’s Eve.”
He explained his home-brewing interests to locals and exchanged stories. He heard about yeast strains that have been passed down from generation to generation over hundreds of years, and the making of Baijiu. He made beer during his stay, too, something Qiuxia said made them popular in town.
“There are no home-brew shops in China, and you couldn’t just buy all those fancy things online, so it took a whole month to put together a home-brew thing that worked,” she recalls. “We didn’t have bottles and we couldn’t buy commercial, so we had a whole neighborhood saving bottles and cleaning for us. And we didn’t have caps – you buy them either 100,000 at once or nothing – so we taught everybody, whenever they drink beer, they had to open very carefully because we were re-using the caps.”
Twelve years on, things have gotten a bit more sophisticated.
The making of Ming involves the use of sticky rice, in addition to long-grain rice; Pilsner malt; bittering hops, and bitter orange peel; and Tahoma hops, added toward the end of the boiling process. An ale yeast is used, as neutral a yeast as Kevin could find.
At 4.2 percent alcohol, Ming is inviting indeed – should you, perhaps, lose count of drinks while you desperately fight the scorch of hot noodles. It’s light and clean, with just enough citrus and bitterness in the finish to let you write “citrus and bitterness in the finish” but not enough to overpower a steamed pork bun or a Shanghai pancake.
Qiuxia says half the brewery is represented in this beer’s making and branding, but she doesn’t mean only herself: her parents, “Hu Baba” and “Hu Mama”, traveled from Chengdu to help build the brewhouse while Boom Island was getting started.
“[Hu Baba] was my plasma-cutting extraordinaire,” says Kevin. “There was nothing more this guy loved than to get out there in his flip-flops, plasma-cutting eighth-inch stainless [steel]. This big jagged edge would come down; he’d shimmy out of the way, and light a smoke off the ember that was still red-hot on the edge of the sheet metal.”
“There were some wonderful tears and sweat, everything,” says Qiuxia. “It was really the best time we had, even though it was the most difficult.”
Hu Baba and Hu Mama never saw the finished brewery, and won’t likely – Qiuxia says they avoid flying now – but the Welches visit at least twice a year and of course they bring samples. Kevin says Hu Baba will hold up bottles and say, “This is my company!”
To which he’ll respond: “You’re right. You built that thing. That is your company.”
Ming was welcome in the taproom last Friday with a weekend party that featured Mahjong lessons, a table tennis tournament, and a lion dance. It debuted off-site Tuesday at Tea House in Minneapolis. More information can be found on Boom Island Brewing Company’s website or their Facebook page.
We are joining forces with Feline Rescue host the 3rd Annual Pints & Purrs Fundraiser. On Saturday, June 23, we pair unique Belgian-inspired craft beers with lots of cat-themed fun. Join us for a purring good time!
At Pints & Purrs, you’ll not only have the privilege of snuggling with Feline Rescue’s finest kittens, you’ll also meet a wide range of characters who love Belgian-style beer. A portion of the day’s Boom Room sales will benefit Feline Rescue.
Don’t miss out on Kitten Therapy – the most popular part of the day! Kitten Therapy is a one-of-a-kind opportunity to cuddle and play with some of our adorable, adoptable Feline Rescue foster kittens! For an opportunity to reserve an 8-minute therapy session, visit https://felinerescue.org/kittentherapy. Or you may wait until June 23 and enter for a chance to win 5 minutes with our kittens – winners will be drawn and announced only as spots become available. It’s best to hurry to try to secure a reservation!
1-5 p.m. KITTY KRAFTS AND ACTIVITIES
Make kitty krafts and cat toys to donate to Feline Rescue cats or take home to your own kitty. Participate in cat-themed coloring, games, activities, and fun for all ages!
1-8 p.m. KITTEN VIDEO FASHION SHOW
Watch Feline Rescue kittens strut their stuff and vote with your dollars to select our new 2019 Spokes Kitten!
3-7 p.m. BOOM BEER PULL
You can’t lose! $20 gives you the opportunity to pull a 750ml Boom Island bottle of signature brew! If you’d like to donate a bottle (or case) please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
3-7 p.m. DOOR PRIZE DRAWINGS
Prizes include Sojo’s gift box, gift cards, and kitty swag! Must be present to win.
About Boom Island Brewing Company
Following the Belgian tradition, all Boom Island beers are naturally carbonated and bottle conditioned. Live yeast is added just before the beer is bottled, resulting in a fresher tasting beer with flavors that continue to evolve over time. While you’re enjoying a beer, watch the Boom Island brew masters in the tap room as they use strains of Belgian yeast to produce the elusive qualities found only in beer from the breweries of their origin.