We’re highlighting Minnesota’s 100-plus craft breweries with our new flight series – four short questions for the people behind the beer. This week is 56 Brewing.
56 Brewing, which opened a 400-barrel system in Northeast Minneapolis back in spring of 2015, doesn't have a taproom – yet. It's currently working on a new space nearby that'll include one, with hopes of opening by Feb. 25, 2017 – the 56th day of the year.
This bigger space will give brewer Nick Chute the chance for more creative flexibility, to make new garden-to-growler beers and "push the boundaries of flavor" with a lot more infusions, he told GoMN.
I sat down with Chute and 56's owner Kale Johnson a few weeks ago to sample a few beers – the wet hop Pale Ale and the California Street IPA – and ask them a flight of questions.
What's the funniest mistake or blooper that's happened to you?
"The yeast geyser," Johnson said.
Chute chimed in with the story: "When we had first started we were storing our yeast in modified kegs and we just put a cap on it and we were trying to blow the pressure off because it kept building up pressure. Thought it was blown off, so as I was going to take the cap off it just erupts, blew the top off, yeast geysered all the way to the ceiling."
Chute was covered in yeast, and there's still remnants of yeast on the ceiling.
"That was pretty funny."
They told another story about a river of porter that was flowing out of the tasting room one day. They try to do max capacity in their tank, but the beer "had fermented so actively that the yeast was just flowing over ... creating this big pile of, like this stream of beer out the door," Johnson explained.
"I put in about 12 barrels of beer into the fermenter, but we ended up getting, like, nine," Chute said. "It blew so much out."
What's one tip you have for people trying to learn more about craft beer?
"Start with low IBUs [international bitterness units] and move your way up," Johnson said. "Start with easy drinking, low-hoppy beer. Start with a lager or pilsner, and work your way up to a kolsch or maybe a brown ale, and start to understand different flavor profiles. I would say IPAs should be last – most people are like, I want an IPA, but they don't know why."
"Whatever your style, try and broaden – drink more beer, more varieties so you get to understand the flavors," Chute said. "You can take two different beers of any style and they taste totally different, but somehow still fall on that style guideline. So try and be diverse in what you're drinking, don't get stuck in a rut."
What's your favorite beer to brew?
"IPAs are fun – playing with all the hops," Chute said. "That's probably my favorite to brew."
"The least favorite is the ones with all the coconut," Johnson said, with Chute agreeing.
"You add coconut to the fermenter, we're opening the fermenter up so it's opening the chance for contamination ... so that's stressful," Chute said. "And we've got a huge bag of coconut in the fermenter that you have to pull out and clean out, that's always a mess."
If you weren't working with beer, what would you be doing?
"Probably be a farmer," Chute said.
"Funny, that's the first thing that popped into my head – working on a big farm. That's what I enjoy doing," Johnson said.
It's fitting, because 56 Brewing's focus is on garden-to-growler beer, using local ingredients. The current brewery and tasting room has hop varieties growing outside, as well as local spices, herbs, flowers and plants that are used in pilot beer creations. The next brewery will be near a community garden that Johnson and Chute hope to take advantage of, they said.