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.
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.
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.”
“Why would two different brewers stick their mash paddles into the same pot?”
This was a question posed to me by a Dutch brewer in a small enclave of Belgian territory about 5 years ago. That has been my thinking ever since regarding collaborations. They almost always come across as a marketing gimmick, despite the positive reaction from the public.
My mind was changed however, on our last trip to Belgium as I had the opportunity to visit one of my closest brewing buddies in Belgium, Thijs Maenhout of Brouwerij Maenhout. Thijs’ brewery is similarly sized to that of Boom Island. 12-15 BBL batches, unfiltered and bottle conditioned as is consistent with Belgian tradition. Thijs’ brewery is unique in that it qualifies as a genuine “Huisbrouwerij” under Belgian law meaning that his family’s place of residence is under the same roof as the brewery itself. The thing I most respect about Thijs though, is a quality I strive to execute here at Boom Island. That is nailing down the classics of the Belgian tradition of brewing first, then stepping beyond that realm to show one’s true understanding of the broader brewing culture.
On that last trip to Belgium, I was lucky enough to meet up with Thijs over a few brews as he casually tossed out, “Why don’t we do a collaborative brew of some sort?” Having never approached the topic before and without hesitation, I responded, “Absolutely!”. So what follows is how it all went down.
He chose the style, Russian Imperial Stout. I added the idea of using a bit of Chocolate to represent Belgium and a bit of Coffee (supplied by North Loop Dunn Bros.) to represent Minneapolis’ vibrant coffee scene. Both ingredients to be kept subtle and balanced as should be in true Belgian fashion. From there, Thijs developed a recipe and sent us the samples via a friend who happens to work here in Minneapolis a couple of weeks each year and also happens to be his logo designer. The entire Boom Island team agreed that test batch was outstanding! No changes necessary.
Then came the biggest challenge, naming the beer. Let’s see: Russian Imperial Stout, behind closed doors, Belgian brewer meets with American brewer. No paper trail, no missing emails, no dossier, and until now no one has had to recuse themselves. The name “Kollusion” surfaced, seemed perfect and was agreed upon
Kollusion – Russian Imperial Stout, 11% ABV
Boom Island Kollusion
Brouwerij Maenhout Kollusion
Appearance –Thick and inky as a blackout velvet curtain, with a deep espresso head
Aroma – Roasted malt, with hints of chocolate and coffee lurking in the shadows
Flavor – Bold but light on the palate, with notes of dark malt, coffee and chocolate in equal measure. Flavors emerge as the beer warms in the glass.
Kollusion is bold, beautiful and a little mysterious. It is a delicious departure for us, and we are excited about it. See for yourself on Friday, February 23 at 4pm. Another collaboration beer with Thijs is a distinct possibility that will be discussed in late April when we visit the Brouwerij Maenhout with our Boom Island tour group. On the 23rd we will have bottles for sale and will be pouring it as fast as we can get it into a glass.
Many ideas grow better when transplanted into another mind than the one where they sprang up. —Oliver Wendell Holmes
MN Hard Bop Collective (MNHBC) drummer extraordinaire and friend Jesse Simon applied for and received a grant from the Metropolitan Regional Arts Council. This is great news for fans of local jazz. The grant, which will last from now until early summer, will add focus to our Boom Room Jazz initiative. Starting February 10, we will be hosting live jazz every other week, with the MNHBC playing each gig.
The grant will not only help finance the series, but will also allow Jesse to focus each program on education of the hard bop style, and challenge his players and the audience with music rarely heard on the scene. Are you familiar with the likes of jazz greats Hank Mobley and Elmo Hope? I hadn’t either, until we started Boom Room Jazz. And I’ve been listening to jazz for a long time.
My dad introduced me to Jazz when I was 13. He played Dave Brubeck’s “Take 5” to me and I had to admit that he was right, that tune is amazing. From that point on I’ve been buying jazz records. I had great mentors to help along the way. That said, 2017 was the year that put my appreciation of Jazz into overdrive. My knowledge and appreciation, as well as my collection, has easily doubled from what I have learned from Boom Room Jazz.
For those who haven’t had guidance like I received, the genre of Jazz can be daunting. It’s huge, ranging from 1930’s big band music, to 60’s heroin-fueled mind trips, and everything in between. All I can say to anyone who was hasn’t been properly introduced to jazz, stop by on a Boom Room Jazz Saturday at 7pm and give it a shot. Live jazz is amazing and the music of the MNHBC will always swing with sophistication. The vibe in the room is electric. The music being played is rarely, if ever, heard in this town. To top it all off, the beers you will be drinking will always be complex and delicious as well. Write down the following dates:
Saturday, February 10 – “Soul Station” Quartet, The music of Hank Mobley part 3
Dave Hagedorn on Vibraphone, Aaron Hedenstrom sax, Ted Olsen bass
Saturday, February 24 – Elmo’s World! A return to the music of Elmo Hope
Jake Baldwin Trumpet, Clay Puhfal sax, Jeff Rinear trombone, Javier Santiago piano, Ted Olsen bass
Saturday, March 10 – Modern Hard Bop, NYC Hard Bop from the 1980s to the present
Pete Whitman Sax, Jeff Rinear trombone, Ted Godbout piano, Graydon Peterson bass
Minneapolis. Belgian-style beer. Chinese New Year.
At first glance, it might be difficult to see how these three things are related. Maybe you can see a link between beer and Minneapolis given the vibrant craft beer scene, but how does that connect to the Chinese New Year? If you shift your gaze over to Boom Island Brewing, you’ll start to see why the Chinese New Year has a unique and special meaning to us. Not only did our current taproom open during the Chinese New Year in 2014, but the foundation of Boom Island Brewing itself is rooted in Chinese culture.
It all starts out like this: “What happens when two professional horn players fall in love with Belgian beer?” The obvious answer is open a brewery, which is why Boom Island exists today, but one of those horn players was Qiuxia from Chengdu in China. Qiuxia (pronounced choo-sha) came to Minnesota at the age of 18 to pursue her horn performance career at Augsburg and the University of Minnesota. Along the way, she met fellow horn player and Belgian beer fanatic Kevin, and together they decided to pursue a life of music and eventually beer.
But the Chinese influence on Boom Island doesn’t stop there. In fact, our north Minneapolis brewery was literally built with the help of Qiuxia’s own parents. Despite the drastic culture and language barriers, they traveled from China to live with Qiuxia and Kevin, and helped get Boom Island Brewing into operation. Everything from building fermenters to brewing beer, Qiuxia’s parents played an immense role in the making of Boom Island. If you were to step inside the brewery in its earlier days, you wouldn’t have heard English spoken, but Chinese instead. Qiuxia recalls fond memories of her mother and father being in the brewery several years ago. Her family’s connections to Boom Island are close and remain so to this day. If you happen to catch a glimpse in the back of our walk-in fridge, you’ll still see the names of our beer written in English and Chinese as a little reminder of the brewery’s beginnings.
Even though Minneapolis is far from Chengdu (13 hours away, to be exact), Qiuxia finds ways to see reflections of her home here in Minnesota. On the hottest, most humid days of summer, she can be found out in the sunshine, relishing the intense heat and happily proclaiming “It’s just like China!” Or, if you have any frustration, simply mention it to her and she’ll have a Chinese adage for you. “In China, we have a saying for that!” is a phrase often heard around the brewery. And so, our celebrations of the Chinese New Year are just another way in which we’re bringing a bit of China into the heart of Minnesota.
Hearing Qiuxia describe Chinese New Year celebrations is reason enough to get excited for the holiday. “It’s our Christmas,” Qiuxia elaborated. “And Thanksgiving, too. It’s huge!” As a part of the New Year, people gather with their family and friends to celebrate by doing what most anyone can relate to – eating a large amount of food. “That’s why it’s like Thanksgiving,” Qiuxia said before bounding into the details of the Chinese New Year’s food traditions, only to end with “…now I’m hungry.” Each region of China has its own particular culinary tradition that is the focus of the New Year, but everyone celebrates by enjoying a large, festive meal together. “As a child, I remember we’d prepare the meals days ahead of time because it’s so big. On the actual day, we’d have the adult table and the kids table. All us kids would wear our new clothes for the New Year, we would get together and play, get our red envelopes, and wait for midnight to have firecrackers.”
The New Year is all about luck, and as a way to ensure luck for the oncoming year, firecrackers are set off at midnight to ward off any bad luck or evil spirits. Red is also associated with luck, and traditional decorations for the New Year are just about anything in red. Red envelope trees are a popular tradition in China. The envelopes typically contain money or a token of good luck, and are gifted from the older generation to children. However, the red envelopes are not simply given out to anyone. To earn the opportunity to be given a red envelope, children must offer a good wish or fortune to the giver. “Everything is about luck,” Qiuxia said in explaining the traditions, and everyone passes along good fortunes and wishes throughout the New Year’s celebrations.
So on our corner of Minneapolis where we could walk out our door and launch a firecracker over highway 94, we’ll be paying homage to our Chinese roots by celebrating the Chinese New Year in style. We’ll have a special tarragon Witness witbier in the taproom made especially for the New Lunar Year, along with complimentary fortune cookies and tea. Here at Boom Island, we’ll have a red envelope tree of our own with a token for everyone, just be sure to come prepared with your good tiding so you can earn your envelope. A special Chinese Lion Dance will be featured at 4pm, so be sure to visit to catch a glimpse of the lions! Like any new year, it’s a time to celebrate with family and friends, so here’s to the Chinese New Year and to the traditions and people that brought Boom Island to where it is today!