It’s Only Wit But We Love It! Brouwerij Maenhout Collaboration

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From Qiuxia

What does “collaboration” mean in the fast-paced, and ever changing craft brewing world? There are plenty of one-and-done collaborative beers out there. They appear fast and disappear even faster.

Boom Island Brewing is no stranger to the collaboration beer scene. Last fall, we released our first collaborative beer, Kollusion, a Russian Imperial Stout,  with a small family brewery in Pittem, Belgium, Brouwerij Maenhout.

 

Kollusion
Our first collaborative beer finally met! The best part was the side-by-side tasting.The beer was an instant success on both sides of the pond. Thijs sold his batches within days, and we had to carefully guard our bottles and kegs so it lasted a little longer.

 

I always thought real collaboration should have a lasting impact, and it should come from something deeper than a quick flash-in-the-pan event. This is why I am moved by the friendship and creativity of Kevin and Thijs.

The inspiration of Lemon Drop Wit comes from a memorable trip and an evening of fun in the small town of Pittem, Belgium. Last April, we traveled with a group of beer lovers for our Belgian beer tour. Before the trip, Kevin and Thijs was already talking about another collaboration. They both felt that even though the first collaborative beer was great, they would have benefited more from brewing together. Since we were going to Belgium, Kevin decided to skip a day of the tour (he actually skipped Zythos Beer Festival!)  and go brew with Thijs. But what beer should they make together? How about Witbier? A beer style almost expired and later resurrected by Pierre Celis who created Hoegaarden.

The interesting story is, Witbier was the first beer we released in Minneapolis and Thijs in Belgium has never made a Witbier! To make it more “American”, Kevin decided to dry hop it with a hop variety that is not available in Belgium, Lemon Drop. Here is where the story gets juicy. Since we ran out of time to ship the hops to Thijs for the brew, the only choice we had was to bring the 11 pounds of hops in our suitcases. Luckily, we had a group of adventurous and willing tour folks, all the hops arrived safely (hopefully, no border control people are reading this).

Skip ahead to their production day, we go to the party later that night.  Kevin was invited to a special fundraising rock concert “Pure Rock” in the township, benefiting a local non-profit group for people with disabilities. Interestly enough it was organized by Thijs’ brother, Ward. The entire town was there and Kevin was welcomed by everyone (who said Belgians are boring and shy). We get so much done when we are having fun! By the end of the night, the name of beer, the label concept and taglines were all in place. We have a new collaborative beer!

Next day, when the tour group arrive at Brouwerij Maenhout, we were greeted by two good friends who have shared some amazing experiences together and the result is our second collaborative beer, Lemon Drop Wit – It’s only wit, but we love it!

Come celebrate the release Lemon Drop Wit, Friday, October 26 at 4pm.

The Beer:

 

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Lemon Drop Wit, It’s Only Wit But We Love It!

 

The Lemon Drop Wit has a slightly peppery taste from the spelt, along with a velvety and hazy mouthfeel from the yeast.  It’s pale and cloudy and enriched with coriander and lemon zest. Lemon Drop Wit weighs in at 5.5% ABV, a modest 16 IBU, and is amazingly delicious.

 

Conversation with Thijs Maenhout

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Qiuxia Welch, Co-founder Boom Island Brewing

On February 23, we released our first collaboration beer created in partnership with a small Belgian brewery, Brouwerij Maenhout. The beer, Kollusion, is a Russian Imperial Stout. It’s not a style commonly associated with Belgium, and neither Brouwerij Maenhout or Boom Island has released one before. I checked in with Thijs Maenhout to get his thoughts on the experience.

What inspired this collaboration?

It was a fun experiment! Kollusion has been very well received in Belgium, in fact it sold out in three days! I have never made a stout before, and I was excited to try something new. Here in Belgium traditions are strong. People like to drink what they are familiar with over and over. But as a brewer, I like to try new things and experiment with new styles. It can be boring if you just make same beer every day. I’d like to brew more collaborations with Boom Island. I think we could learn more if we were to brew side by side.

What is your favorite Russian Imperial Stout?

Mmm…honestly, I have never had one before! This beer was a pure experiment and I had a lot fun making it.

What are your thoughts about the craft beer industry in America today?

I am very interested in learning more about the U.S. craft beer industry. I’m a member of the Brewers Association and I’m active on many online craft beer forums. Belgium and the U.S. are very different. Here in Belgium, people stick to traditions. It takes a long time for brewers to come out with new beers, because our consumers like to drink the same beer that they have been drinking for years. It is changing, but slowly. There are more hoppy beers now in Belgium, and brewers are experimenting more with other styles. I like what is happening in the U.S. The market is very diverse. Brewers and consumers aren’t afraid to try new things, and they’re not afraid to think outside the box. Sometimes these new beers work, sometimes they don’t. People just move on and keep trying new things. I like that. I like that spirit. That is why I want to collaborate with Kevin and learn from him.

This collaboration is a story of what’s possible when two breweries from different countries learn from each other. What would you like people in the U.S. to know about Belgian beers?

Two things. Tradition and balance. We have a long history of making beer, so there is a lot of knowledge that comes from brewing Trappist beers to lambic and gueuze beers. These traditions have been passed down for hundreds of years. Belgians are good at brewing! Another thing is balance. We always try to make balanced beer. It is never too bitter, or too sweet. We believe that is essential for making good beer.

What do you say to people who say “I don’t like Belgian beer.”

Try another. There are over 1,600 different beers in Belgium. Trust me, you’ll find one you like.

Thank you so much for taking time to talk about this collaboration. Do you have plans for another one?

Yes! I am looking forward to brewing another beer with Boom Island when you Kevin come to Belgium in April with your tour group.

 

More readings on Belgian beer history and Belgian beers:

The Great Beers of Belgium – Michael Jackson

CAMRA’s Good Beer Guide to Belgium – Tim Webb, Joe Stange

The Belgian Beer Book – Erick Verdonck

 

 

Boom Days July 15-17

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Our biggest event of the year, Boom Days, is around the corner.  So, what is Boom Days?  Well, it all started from one beer:  Cuvée de Boom. This unhopped ale consists of 45% Pinot Grigio grapes and 55% Belgian style blond ale.  Our brewer Kevin Welch specifically created it for our first Boom Days Festival two years ago. The result is this magical blend between wine and beer, creating a champagne-esque delight.

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The release of the Cuvée de Boom is a big part of Boom Days, and has become quite a party. The first Boom Days two years ago was small but fun. People came for the Cuvée de Boom, and stayed for the music and good company. The second year came, we expanded the event to three days and added a Belgian Style Homebrew Competition with help from our friends at Northern Brewers.  Over 50 home brewers sent in Belgian style brews of their own creation, with JD Park taking home the grand prize for his Saison. We will be releasing his Saison on July 16 at 1PM during the festival.

We can’t believe that the 3rd annual Boom Days is a few short weeks away.  Kevin has outdone himself again this year. He barrel aged the Cuvée!  You will be able to try his creation on tap and bring home 750ml bottles as well. Cuvée will only be available during Boom Days. Besides Cuvée, we will also be tapping some of our most exclusive releases from the past year along with your favorite year-round beers.

If there is one thing really special about this year’s Boom Days it has to be the music. Let’s face it, everyone here at Boom Island takes music seriously.  That is why we have lined up some amazing and eclectic bands for you, from Belgian rapper to jazz, from a horn ensemble, to long time local favorites.

Another key facet to Boom Days is that it features education and the sharing our knowledge and passion of brewing with others. This is why we partnered with Northern Brewer  to create the Belgian Style Homebrew Competition.  Before the award announcement at 5PM on Sunday, July 17, we have invited many local brewing industry leaders to share their knowledge of  malt, hops, yeast and brewing styles.

Anyone who has met our founder and head brewer Kevin knows that he is passionate about Belgian beer, Belgian breweries and Belgian fries. He has become the unofficial Belgian ambassador and trip planner.  Finally he is leading a tour to Belgium for our customers! We have teamed up with Book It Travel to create a Belgian Brewery Tour in April 2017.  He will be talking about the itinerary on Sunday. You will be able to sign up to receive more information about the tour.

So, what is Boom Days?  It is about great beer, music, education, and so much more. It is about a great time to share with family and friends right in the middle of a Minnesota summer that goes by entirely too fast. Cheers to you and your continued support of Boom Island Brewing!

DRINK COPIOUS AMOUNTS OF BEER TO SUPPORT THE ARTS IN JUNE

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Boom Island Brewing Company’s connection to the Arts dates back to when owners Kevin and Qiuxia Welch were active French horn player in the Twin Cities. It makes sense that as the brewery becomes more established and looks for a place to “pay it forward,” the Arts has become the main focus of our charitable endeavors.

Join us in the taproom for trivia nights in June with proceeds going to local charities! On Thursday, June 9th and Wednesday, June 15th Boom Island is opening its door for local charities Sparkle Theatricals and Brewing a Better Forest for great beer and trivia at 7pm both nights. In addition to the trivia, on Saturday June 18th the Boom Room will host a kickoff event for Make Music Day, a nationwide celebration of music.

Sparkle Theatricals’ mission is to engage artists and audiences of all ages with compelling and humorous productions that celebrate youthful curiosity, highlight the educative value of play, and inspire laughter. Led by artistic director Alejandra Emilia Iannone and technical director, (and accomplished DJ) Rick Ausland, the Sparkles team will conduct Boom Box Trivia, music trivia using sound clips among the clues. They will also give all comers a chance to leave with booty via door prizes. A $10 donation for a trivia sheet goes to Sparkle, who is trying to match a grant in time for their Halloween event.
Brewing A Better Forest is a non-profit group of arborists and tree lovers who are passionate about trees and craft beer in the Twin Cities. The crew at Brewing a Better Forest strives to engage and encourage residents to notice, appreciate, and help water newly planted city trees.  Learn how to “adopt” a tree, play trivia and drink some beer on the 15th.

Not into trivia? Stop by anyway; the room will be alive with great beer and the active support of quality causes. All donations to these events are tax deductible.

On June 18th Boom Island will host a kickoff for Make Music Day, which is held annually on June 21. Make Music Day is part of the international Fête de la Musique, taking place in 700 cities across 120 countries. The daylong, musical free-for- all celebrates music in all its forms, encouraging people to band together and play in free public concerts.

Event Schedule

5PM Chinese American Association of MN Dance Theater

6PM The Average Tuba Quartet

7PM Brad Bellows Quintet

We are booking music for this event, send request to info@boomislandbrewing.com

Now mark your calendar! Not only are you gathering with friends for great beer, you are supporting the Arts or fostering a local tree. It’s a simple and delicious way to make the world a better place. Cheers to you!

Boom Room Jazz Expanded to Every Summer Saturday

 

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From-Jim

You ask and we will deliver! Due to the rousing success of our Boom Room Jazz events the past few months, we have expanded our Boom Room Jazz nights to every Saturday at 7pm throughout the summer starting May 28.  Brad Bellows and his “Cats” will return weekly, affixing the Boom Island Brewing Company taproom to an all-too-short list of go-to destinations for high quality live jazz in the Twin cities.

If you haven’t heard Brad Bellows and his group play, picture swinging late 1960’s Prestige label era classic jazz. They have decades of experience in the local and national jazz scene, and it shows. This is not fluffy, hotel lobby jazz.  As always, there is no cover and music will begin promptly at 7pm.  The taproom will stay open until 10pm during Boom Room Jazz events.

To use the jazz vernacular, come to our crib every Saturday to wig out to our wailing cats of cool. Now you’re on the trolley.

Musicians for Saturday,  May 28

Brad Belows – Valve Trombone
Larry Hillman – Tenor Sax
Steve Kimmel – Vibraphone
Tom Lewis – Bass
Peter Hennig – Drums

The Tale of a Wild Ale

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From-KevinSo what happens when friend walks into a brewery with a trailer load of fresh, second use French oak wine barrels? This is exactly what happened to us here at Boom Island around 4 months ago. My first thought, “More Oude Funk!”. Not a bad idea at all. But after a bit of further deliberation, a different idea came to me. I had several conversations recently regarding Brettanomyces (known afterwards simply as “Brett”) as the source for primary fermentation. In practice, this is almost always performed with a single strain of brett for the fermentation. Knowing many strains of brett are especially known for their unusual aromatics that it contributes to beer, I developed a new challenge for us. We would create a “Wild Ale” which uses three different strains of brett for its fermentation.

From there the recipe formulation began. We were looking for a very nice deep mahogany colored beer from several of our favorite Belgian specialty roasted grains. We knew that these very grains would also leave a nice residual body after the brett’s notoriously aggressive fermentation cycle. The three strains of brett were then chosen for their aromatic qualities which evolve over the months to come. Descriptors such as; fruity, floral, pineapple, crushed fruit candy, and pear were those used to describe the strains which were eventually chosen for Triple Brett. The hopping schedule was light and with the Saaz variety only.

After a brief fermentation in stainless, the Triple Brett spent ten weeks in those wine barrels which were the original inspiration for the beer. Bottling day arrives and we decided to hand bottle every drop rather than risk running the wild yeast through our automated bottle filler. Natural conditioning in the bottle was 6 weeks. The result was extremely pleasing.

Important points to note: This is a wild beer, not to be confused with a sour. A wild beer is a beer which is fermented with organisms other than traditional brewer’s yeast. There is a bit of overlap but Triple Brett is not a sour. Also, don’t let the term “wild” cause you to shy away. This beer is very approachable. 7.2% ABV. Nice deep color with a very, very fruity nose. Ingredients: simply malt, water, hops and three strains of Brettanomyces.

Cheers!

Pints and Pups 2016

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Wiggy, Unofficial Taproom Greeter

From-MartaIt all started with our bar manager Jim and his love of dogs. In particular, a very special love for Wiggy, whom he often describes as the Unofficial Boom Island Greeter. Many patrons who have walked into the Boom Island taproom have encountered our favorite, four-legged friend right at the door, her entire body wriggling from side to side as all the energy from her furiously wagging tail works its way up her torso. Within moments, she’ll either be lying down for a belly rub or will come and sit on your feet once you have your beer. And yes, she literally sits on your feet; if this has happened to you, you know what I’m talking about. In the end, the universal truth is that we all love and adore Wiggy.

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Jim and Wiggy at Pints & Pups 2015

But Wiggy’s story before enjoying time with her humans (affectionately known as Mr. and Mrs. Wiggy) at Boom Island might surprise you. Wiggy herself is a rescue from Secondhand Hounds, and to imagine sweet Wiggy as a rescued dog is gut-wrenching. What kind of life she had prior to coming into the care of Secoundhand Hounds is hard to envision. And what is even more heartbreaking to think about is other dogs like Wiggy who are currently in situations where they don’t receive the care and love that they deserve.

Given the history of Wiggy, Jim couldn’t stand idly by knowing that other dogs were in the same situation as Wiggy had been. We needed to do something to help other rescued dogs, and with Jim at the helm, the idea for Pints and Pups was born. Jim took charge in early 2015 to seek out several local rescue organizatations and invite them to come to Boom Island Brewing for a day to raise awareness and funds for the plight of animals in need. Everything was ready to go, and we expected a good day for Pints and Pups 2015.

We were wrong. It wasn’t just a good day; it was a fantastic day of love, support, and happy tails. With a line circling inside the taproom and making its way out the door, we were incredibly happy to see the overwhelming amount of support pour in from patrons. Pints and Pups was a huge success beyond what we had intially imagined, and in thinking ahead to 2016, we knew we could make it even better.

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Pet Project Rescue at Pints & Pups 2015

Pints and Pups 2016 sees the return of several rescues from last year in addition to a few new organizations. We’re so excited to have the following rescues participate this year:

In addition to the rescue organizations, a variety of dog-related vendors will be on-site with information and services that could benefit you and your pup. And just like last year, we encourage visitors to bring along their own pooches to join in the fun! All leashed and well-behaved dogs are welcome to attend Pints and Pups with their humans.

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Happy tails at Pints & Pups 2015

 

So once again, we’re calling on all dog-lovers to join us for a day of supporting dogs in need on Saturday, May 14. A portion of our proceeds from the entire day (that’s 1pm to 9pm) will be given back to the rescues. That means bring your friends and family, and come have a pint to support a pup! We want you to come drink us out of beer. Because in the end, what could be better than having good beer and doing good for pups in need?


 

All photos by Heather Hanson Photography