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!

Famous Belgians – Eddy Merckx

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From-JimSimilar to our home here in Minneapolis, Belgium is a place of bicycling fanatics. Nearly every village has a cycling club where members meet two or three time per week to pedal the picturesque countryside and riverways, much like how cyclists here will embark along the Mississippi River or venture out on trails beyond the city limits.

The undisputed greatest cyclist ever is Eddy Merckx from Meensel-Kiezegem, Belgium. Born in 1945 and known as “The Cannibal,” Merckx was a time trial machine, one of the best climbers and was rarely beaten sprinting to the finish.  

His resume includes five Tour de France victories, which is a feat only matched by Jacques Anquetil, Bernard Hinault and Lance Armstrong.  Of course we all know now that Mr. Armstrong was on more drugs than a touring funk band.  In the 1969 Tour de France, Merckx won the Yellow Jersey as the overall winner, the Green Jersey for points winner and the Polka-Dot Jersey for being the best climber.  In all he won over 300 races.

Many of his records held up until updated technology paved the way for faster times.  I think it’s safe to say that Belgians are as proud of the achievements of Eddy Merckx as Americans are ashamed of the disgraceful bravado and unscrupulous fall of Lance Armstrong.

But as we head into the prime time for biking here in Minnesota – and in particular, the popular April challenge 30 Days of Biking – we can reflect on how biking fans here in Minneapolis share something with Merckx, which is perhaps the freedom and exhiliarion of the ride itself.

Famous Belgians – Django Reinhardt

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From-JimAnd we’re back with another popular figure in my “Famous Belgians” series. In announcing the name of our recently released Django Hop Bier to customers in the taproom, a number of people have replied “Like Django Unchained?”  In fact, what we are getting at is Django Reinhardt, the highly influential Belgian born gypsy jazz guitarist.

Jean “Django” Reinhardt (1910-1953) is known as one of the greatest guitarists of all time and a contributor to the evolution of the genre.  He was the son of a travelling entertainer and grew up in a gypsy settlement near Paris.

In 1928, Reinhardt badly burned and paralyzed his ring finger and fifth finger in a fire, which forced him to learn how to solo on his guitar with only his index and middle finger.  The technique later became dubbed the “hot” jazz guitar method and has become tradition with French gypsy culture.  He worked in Paris cafés with the singer Jean Sablon, and in 1934, he was a founding member, with Stephane Grappelli, of the ensemble that became known as the Quintette du Hot Club de France.

The years prior to World War II the group gained in popularity and reputation and released numerous recordings of great originality, including such standards as “Djangology”, Minor Swing“, “Swing ’42”, “Nuages,” among others.  He travelled the world as a celebrity and plugged in his guitar for the first time soloing with Duke Ellington’s band in New York.  Reinhardt seamlessly adapted to the electric guitar, and his style continued to flourish.

Django Reinhardt was a gifted composer and played with a flair, sensitivity and variety that have forever cemented his place as one of the greatest jazz guitarists of all time. Fittingly, it’s the name of our newest beer as well, so you can get a bit of swing in your step right out of the glass.  

And our passion for music and beer doesn’t stop with our Django Hop Bier. In an effort to bring music into our corner of the world, we’re beginning a new music series at the taproom, called Boom Room Jazz. Every last Saturday of the month, we’ll host a free jazz concert right in the taproom, with music beginning at 7pm. There is no need to wear a striped shirt or don a beret to enjoy these concerts; they are a celebration of great jazz music and Belgian-style beer. All concerts will be free; there is no cover to enjoy the Boom Room Jazz series. Local jazz musicians will rotate for each performance and will be announced by the brewery prior to each concert. To top it off, each concert will feature an exclusive taproom-only Boom Island beer during the performance.

Original Jazz Fbook

At Boom Island, you’re guaranteed to find a bit of jazz somewhere, whether it’s in your glass or perhaps floating through the air. We hope you’ll join us as we bring music & beer together with the Boom Room Jazz series!

 

 

The Chinese Heritage of Boom Island

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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.

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Qiuxia and Kevin enjoy a visit to Chengdu, China

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.

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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.

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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!

Event details: Chinese New Year at Boom Island Brewing


 

All photos by © Heather Hanson Photography LLC

 

Clear River Partnership

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The Clear River staff visits Boom island

Happy 2016 from Boom Island Brewing!

We had an amazing 2015 here at Boom Island, with many good memories and beer shared among friends! With exciting events such as the arrival of our bottling machine from Germany to the release of the much-anticipated Oude Funk, it’s a been a year filled with fun, laughter, and of course, great Belgian-style beer from the heart of Minneapolis.

But as we proceed into 2016, there are significant changes on the horizon and the biggest change for Boom Island has already arrived with the new year. On January 1, 2016, Boom Island became partnered with Clear River Beverage Company. Clear River will be managing our distribution within the metro, which means we’ll be focusing our attention on production here at the brewery. With several new products already in the works, we can’t wait to share more Belgian-style beer with you in the coming year!

The team members from Boom Island and Clear River had the opportunity to get to know each other this past Monday during a company party. With the beer flowing freely, the Boom Island staff introduced Clear River to our story and our beer. A few speciality Boom Island beers made a guest appearance for the occasion, much to the delight of the Clear River staff (and the Boom Island staff, too).

As a smaller distributor, the Clear River team is a tight-knit group, much like the staff of Boom Island. Clear River is most known for distributing brands such as Clown Shoes, Evil Twin, Ale Smith, and more, but Boom Island is Clear River’s first local brewery that it will distribute within the metro area. Throughout the evening, it was evident that everyone from both companies has a passion for beer and is dedicated to sharing it among customers in the Twin Cities and beyond. The staff from Clear River and Boom Island traded stories and experiences of being in the field, many of which induced laughter at the shared understanding of various situations that are specific to the work itself.

 

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The Clear River team enjoys samples of Boom Island beer

 

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Owner Kevin explains how Boom Island was started with the help of Qiuxia’s parents

 

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Bill, owner of Clear River, shares a pint with his staff

 

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Brewer Christian walks Clear River through the Boom Island brewing process

 

It was a great evening of making new friends, sharing good beer, learning about each company, and looking forward to what the future holds. With the new support and connections from our partnership with the Clear River team, the possibilities for us at Boom Island have grown significantly. Through our combined efforts with Clear River, we can’t wait to share more beer that was Born in Belgium, Crafted in Minneapolis within the metro and beyond!


 

To learn more about Clear River, visit their website: Clear River Beverage

Photos by © Heather Hanson Photography LLC