We’re highlighting Minnesota’s 100-plus craft breweries with our flight series – four questions for the people behind the beer. This week is Spilled Grain Brewhouse.
Spilled Grain Brewhouse opened in Annandale in mid-2015, brewing beers ranging from popular styles like IPAs to some more obscure styles that you won't find as often in Minnesota – such as a honey rye or French farmhouse ale.
"I'm extremely traditional when it comes to brewing to style. That's my kind of mantra and that's my challenge," brewer Jacob Schnabel told GoMN.
"Not everyone can go to Germany and try a legit pils off the tap there," Schnabel said, explaining that he can get the same ingredients those brewers are using and brew the same style. "So I can give the people in little Annandale, Minnesota, the experience of essentially being world beer travelers."
I sat down with Schnabel last month to sample a few beers, including the Small Town SMaSH No. 3 (a single malt, single hop pale ale), 007 Spy-PA (an English IPA), and Bent Prop (a Baltic porter, which is actually a lager not an ale like other porters) and ask him a flight of questions.
What beer made you want to brew beer for a living?
"I honestly got to go back to Sam Adams Boston Lager. Back in the late '90s, early 2000s Sam Adams was craft beer. They're one of the major reasons we're all here. And I remember I was never big into macro lagers in college, I wanted something more. Other than Sam Adams, there wasn't a whole heck of a lot more ... Sam Adams was fairly inexpensive and it actually had 'flavor' compared to some other stuff. Once I kind of cracked that seal, that made me want to go learn and find as many other beer styles as I could," Schnabel said.
What's your favorite style of beer to brew?
"Probably our SMaSH series. It's not necessarily a style, more of an idea. ... I like how simple it is, and how complex it can be at the same time. It just shows people that you can get multilayer beers without making the recipe itself more complex, but by changing your technique in the brewhouse is kind of how you can layer things.
"I like the challenge of that. I think it's fun in its simplicity and it's challenging in its simplicity as well, because something like this you don't have anything to hide behind ... if there's something wrong it's going to smack you in the face. It's not like an American stout where you can hide a kitchen sink in there and nobody's going to necessarily notice it," Schnabel said.
What's the best reaction you've gotten to one of your beers?
"Being in Annandale, you've got people that have never been exposed to craft beer. Never in their lives. ... It' so funny because I'll give them a sample and they'll be like, 'That's really dark, I usually don't like dark beer.' And when they drink it, all the sudden this revelation comes on their face 'That's really good.' And right there, you just know you've completely transformed – in one second, just by asking a few additional questions – the way they look at beer, most likely, from that point forward. And that's good for all of us – if you can take a Coors Light drinker to – even if it's just the Kolsch they like – maybe now, if they see Kolsch in the store, maybe they'll buy that ... instead of Coors Light. Job done. We've won at that point," Schnabel said.
What would you tell someone to get them to come into the taproom?
"I'd say we're a family establishment that makes great beer and has great entertainment," Schnabel said. "We try to appeal to many, many people in terms of the music we bring in, the food trucks we bring in – there's always something new going on. ... It's a great small town experience."