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 Insight Brewing.
Insight Brewing, which just celebrated its two-year anniversary last month, prides itself on offering beer styles from around the world. And in the next year it's launching six sour beers, new IPAs, more barrel-aged beers, and three beers that they can't really talk about yet.
I sat down with co-founder Ilan Klages-Mundt to sample a few beers – Dankbot IPA, Banshee Cutter coffee golden ale, Sunken City saison and the Gravity Well imperial stout – and ask him a flight of questions.
What beer made you fall in love with beer?
"Westvleteren 12," Klages-Mundt said. It's brewed by the Saint Sixtus Monastery in Belgium. He had it for the first time in 2007 – he paid $72 for the beer at a bottle shop in Denmark. At the time, he was in school studying classical music.
"[When I tasted it,] it was one of those moments where it was like the sun came up, the birds started chirping – I knew what I wanted to do in the world. That beer was so awesome, so complex that I wanted to start a brewery one day and I wanted to learn about the world of beer," he said.
It kicked off his brewing career, and led him to travel around the world and study beer. He worked on hop farms and at breweries for a year, and when he returned in 2011 he started figuring out how to start his own brewery.
"[We're] a brewery that brings the world of beer to the consumer," Klages-Mundt added. "And the way that we hold that true is that I keep traveling, I keep going to breweries around the world brewing beer, so we can keep ... being on the leading edge of beer."
What's your biggest pet peeve of others in the Minnesota brewing industry?
"Two years ago I might have said that there are some breweries trying to make certain styles because they were popular, and they weren't always the best representation," Klages-Mundt said. "But with so many more breweries coming online, I've noticed that the competition has gotten a lot stronger – which is good and bad, but mostly good – because people now have to pay attention to quality. And now people are making higher-quality beer overall. I go out and drink someone else's beer and I'm pretty confident it's going to be good."
"So biggest pet peeve right now is almost that people are making too good of beer and it makes my job harder."
What brewery would you want to have a showdown with?
"Castle Danger," Klages-Mundt said, which is a brewery located in Two Harbors. "I like those guys and I respect them – they make really good beer. ... That would be a fun competition because we're doing a lot of similar things in terms of growth, in terms of where we are located – where you can find our beers – and some styles that are really similar, too. It'd be fun to push both brewing teams and see what we could do."
What's one food that if you're eating it, you have to have a beer?
"Wings," Klages-Mundt said, probably buffalo. "I find when you get the zing it's hard to quench – it's hard to have something more quenching than an IPA ... it just fits so well."
"Wings for sure. Wings and beer. I'm not a trailblazer here – people have done that one before."