We're highlighting Minnesota's 100-plus craft breweries with our new flight series – 4 short questions for the people behind the beer. This week is Modist Brewing Co.
Modist Brewing Co. opened in Minneapolis' North Loop neighborhood about six months ago as a brewery that makes one-of-a-kind beers not defined by traditional styles. It's possible because of its unique brewing system – the only one like it in the state – that allows them to use quantities of grains in their beers that many other breweries can't.
I sat down with Modist's co-founder and chief manager Eric Paredes and Dan Wellendorf (the brewery's "thought thinker") to enjoy a First Call, Modist's coffee-flavored lager, and to ask them a flight of questions.
John Donnelly, co-founder and head of sales, as well as Kale Anderson, co-founder and operations manager, also joined in on the Q&A – they were standing nearby filling upwards of 800 crowlers of beer to be released in some local liquor stores for the first time Thursday.
What beer made you fall in love with beer?
"I always go to Bell's Two Hearted," Wellendorf said. He used to run a family liquor store in Illinois, and it was one of the first craft beers he could get. This was back in about 2005 before the craft beer scene across the country really started to explode.
"It was a mind-blowing flavor that I never really had before. I always point to that, that really set me on the path."
Paredes' gateway beer was Rodenbach Grand Cru, which he said has flavors and nuances reminiscent of what you can find in wine. Before getting hooked on craft beer, Paredes worked in the wine industry and he always thought of beer as a "tasteless pilsner." But when he tried Grand Cru it "blew me away that this was actually beer."
If you could collaborate on a beer with any brewery, which one would you pick?
Anderson said they've already done their dream collaboration with a Minnesota brewery – Modist teamed up with Fulton Brewery to make Parallel Paradise, a gin and tonic-inspired beer for Red Stag restaurant's anniversary party.
Paredes said they'd like to brew another unique beer that hasn't been done before, and hopefully with a brewery that's "adventurous" and "pushing the envelope." But he stopped short of naming any names, saying co-founder and head brewer Keigan Knee would have to pick the brewery. (When I was there, Knee was busy brewing.)
As a brewer, what's your biggest pet peeve with the industry?
"New breweries get a bad rap for having under-attenuated beers and that kind of gives everyone a bad name," said Wellendorf, explaining that breweries will rush the beer when they're starting out. "We've heard it before, 'I'll give the brewery a year or six months so they can work out all the kinks' – I don't think there's really an excuse for that."
Paredes' biggest pet peeve is with how some beers are presented.
"Macro companies have spent millions and millions and millions of dollars on making beer be this bro, sports, jockey dude – there's always women in bikinis running around. It's been very lowbrow. And unfortunately, that sold a ton of beer back in the '90s and even before then. There are breweries that are sort of falling into that trap. I see that stuff at the marketplace or on tap handles and it's like – I will not stand for it. I don't have those beers. ... [It's] insulting half of the brewing demographic I think, especially in beer, which is still a male-dominated industry."
What's some advice you have for beer lovers who want to learn more?
Donnelly: "Drink more beer."
Wellendorf: "Don't be scared around a word like 'hoppy' – there are so many different flavors it can give you. A lot of people get scared from the bitterness, but there are a lot of hoppy beers that are low on bitterness."
Paredes: "Most tap rooms, most bars will let you sample beers. ... Get to know, get involved – that's kind of how we all got into the industry. We got involved."
"Just explore and do it – at the end of the day, it's just beer," Paredes added, noting it's nothing like wine. "Beer is super easy."
If you have a suggestion for what brewery we should visit next, let us know! Get in touch via Facebook, Twitter (@MelissaTurtinen) or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Cheers!