Farm to Brewery: Literally.

qiuxiaHeadshot“Farm to table” to most of us means the relationship between farmers and food we consume at home or in restaurants. People want to know where their food comes from and the faces behind their food. They want it to be local and personal. For those of us working in breweries, “farm to table” has a new meaning. It means, “farms to bottles”, “farm to pints”, “farm to brewery”. In fact that relationship has been cultivated for centuries. In Europe, farmhouse breweries have deep roots in Belgium and France. Farmers use whatever grains and ingredients they have on hand to make beer. “Eating Local” is gaining in popularity in this age of processed everything, but back in the day it was the only way. Most of the beer they made was consumed within the household and shared with family and friends in the village. During harvest time, they would make large batches of beer using grains, including malts and wheat, spices like coriander, along with yeast and water that were all sourced from the farms.   The migrant farm workers were the beneficiaries of the beer which was simply called ”farmhouse” beer.  Today, this special style of beer is popular. The guideline is wide and flavors and ingredients are diverse.

True farmhouse breweries are becoming increasingly rare. Most breweries have moved on to using modern equipment and commercially sourced ingredients to meet their demands. But the relationship between farm and brewery is extremely close. At Boom Island Brewing we cultivate that relationship with Chad Douglass and his family at Douglass Farm in Mora, MN.


For the past two years, Chad has picked up all of our spent grain to provide a nutrient rich food source for his animals.  The grain is saved from the landfills on our end, and Chad says his animal’s ears perk up when they hear the truck pull in with the grain.  The cows run beside his truck to get into the proper position for feeding time. Happy cows, happy everyone!

Chad and his wife Brenda and son Cooper have worked their 80-acre farm for two years.  They grow and bail their own hay, as well as some neighboring farms and end up bailing 250 acres each year.  A friend told him about the benefits of using spent grain, so he decided it was worth the hour trip from Mora.  The grain is high in protein, contains good starch and helps the cows maintain a grass-fed diet. In the heat of the summer some of the grain is used as compost for their garden.  They have a list of animals to feed, including Belted Galloway cows, dogs and exotic short hair cats, Brahma chickens, Serama chickens, ducks and geese. We look forward to Chad’s weekly visits. Many times he comes with chicken eggs, rabbit and beef fresh from the farm and we bond our friendship with a couple of pints.

Farm-to-brewery-to-farm-to-table. This is truly local, environmental and sustainable.

Every spring, we release our version of Farmhouse ale, called Saison (meaning “Season” in French). Each year our Saison would be unique, incorporating orange peel, barley, oats, wheat and perhaps a touch of rye. However, just calling it “Farmhouse” isn’t enough this year:  we are bringing the farm to our north Minneapolis brewery. Boom Island parking lot will host baby Rex rabbits, miniature Serama chickens, a Galloway calf or two and some new hatchling baby ducks.  Maybe even a pony or two, and possibly a goat.  Chad Douglass will be on hand to answer questions and sell a few of his wares. Dog treats using spent grain will be made available for dog owners and their pets.

Come during the day to pet the animals and stay for live Jazz at 7pm. The MN Hard Bop Collective will be playing music of Bobby Watson.

Saison,  Farmhouse Ale

Saison – 6% ABV

Appearance – Light copper in color with a fluffy white head

Aroma – Soft and subtle citrus.

Flavor – Smooth mouth feel, light spice bitterness with its trademark dry and delicate finish.

Eat local, drink local!



The Saison Style

Saison blog

The concept of spring has an important meaning to us in Minnesota – winter is finally over and we can look forward to the liberated days of venturing outside without a jacket and multiple layers underneath.

But in terms of beer, and in particular, the saison style, spring has an entirely different meaning. Rather than being just another season, spring is an indication of growth which is especially applicable to the upcoming season of farm work. If you were to step back in time to spring in Belgium many years ago, you’d begin see a picture that looks something like this…

The beginning of spring means the influx of migrant farm workers who would travel to the Belgian countryside to find work for the upcoming spring and summer. Farmhouses across the country would hire these workers, and as a part of their compensation, the employees were guaranteed a wage in addition to beer. With this unique payment structure ingrained throughout Belgium for years, the saison was born.

In preparation for the arrival of the seasonal farm workers, it was the responsibility of farmhouses across Belgium to brew beer for their employees. These farms would use whatever grain was left from the previous year to craft a beer during the winter months and ensure that it would be ready for the upcoming spring. Given that each harvest year, farm and brewing practice was different, the saisons were extremely varied. This tradition of brewing for the workers continued for multiple years and eventually established the saison as its own style of beer.

As the saison would differ from farmhouse to farmhouse, there is a range of variety that this particular style allows. For brewers today, there are many ways to explore the saison style, and while saisons differ from brewery to brewery, one thing is definitely certain: the saison is a beer to make you think of warmer days. For us in Minneapolis, the return of the saison and springtime means upcoming months filled with sunshine, being outdoors, and sharing time with family and friends.

At Boom Island Brewing, our Saison is very much a classic farmhouse ale that could transport you back to working in the fields in Belgium centuries ago. Brewed with barley, oats, and wheat, and with a touch of orange peel, the Boom Island Saison features an earthy citrus aroma coupled with noticeable bitterness and a fuller-bodied texture. Flavorful and refreshing, this saison is the perfect drinking companion for being out in the sun.
And to stay true to that specific Belgian tradition, the Saison is our spring and summer seasonal. Maybe not all of us are out on a farm and working in a field (and we certainly don’t condone drinking while operating heavy farm machinery), but we’ll gladly have a Saison in hand while enjoying a Minnesota summer’s day.


The release party for the Boom Island Saison will be on Saturday, March 5. Details can be found at the event page here: Saison Release Party

The Great MN Get Together Day #7

We have the guide to get you going on the best food pairings at this year’s Minnesota State Fair! Every day we will share a new fair food pairing to go along with each of our beers available on tap. So grab some great local beer and great food to finish out the summer right!



Grab some deep fried blue cheese and corn fritters from the Blue Barn and a Saison and you’re in for a wave of amazing flavor. Its’ crispy rich flavor pairs smoothly with our cool Belgian-style farmhouse saison. Hints of orange peel melt with the warm deliciousness of this savory bite-sized dish.

Grab your Saison at the #10KBeer Hall in the Agriculture/Horticulture building at the Minnesota State Fair, or from your favorite liquor store and pair with your home-made cheese fritter creations! Find Boom Island in a liquor store near you by visiting:

We want to know: What ‪#‎MNStateFair‬ food are you pairing with the ‪#‎BoomIslandBeer‬ on tap? Share your selections using the hashtag “#WitnessTheFair ” August 27 – Septmebr 7 to win FREE BEER & PRIZES! Winner(s) announced September 8!

Stay tuned for more pairings — new ones each day of the MN State Fair!

Saison Release is March 20th!

blog Saison

The first day of Spring is March 20th this year.   Anyone who has lived in these parts for any amount of time knows that we could be dining on a rooftop in shorts, or up to our elbows in snowdrifts on that date.  Boom Island Brewing Company is releasing its new Farmhouse-style ale, Saison, to make either scenario a perfect reason to drink beer.

Boom Island’s Saison is a traditional Farmhouse style beer brewed with barley, oats and a touch of rye. Traditionally these beers were brewed by Belgian farmsteads to provide sustenance and quench the thirsts of farm laborers through the Spring and Summer months of work.   More details:

Saison – 6% ABV

Appearance – Fluffy White head on top of a Deep Straw to Light Copper colored beer

Aroma – Delicate Orange or Citrus.

Flavor – Smooth mouth feel from the oats morphs into a collage of spice and light    bitterness, which lingers into an assertively dry finish.

Schedule of events for Friday March 20:

4pm: Boom Room open/$3 Pours of Saison

5pm: Sandy’s Grill & Italian Ice Food Truck on Site

7pm: Local rockers Loons in the Attic perform

Boom Island Brewing Company is located on 2014 Washington Avenue North, Minneapolis MN 55411 in north Minneapolis.  Find the alley entrance to the taproom in the back of the building.  Whether you’re dusting off your flip-flops on 3/20 or donning your snowmobile suit for the hundredth time, one thing remains constant:  Any time you drink a Farmhouse-style ale on the first day of Spring it is a good day.