Monday, March 21, 2022

(Some of) The breweries of Lake Minnetonka

Big fun on Saturday, when we loaded up with a couple friends and visited five new-to-us breweries about an hour south of home.

First stop: Chanhassen Brewing in Chanhassen MN. I don't know how long they've been open, but they're new enough that I didn't even have them listed on Beer Me! yet. It's a nice big open place, with outdoor seating, stuff for sale, and beer to go.

They have a small ice rink next to the patio! I'll bring my skates next time.

And there will be a next time, because the beers were pretty good. Of the seven I tried, the Carver County Reserve #1 was a real standout. A 12% abv rye-barrel-aged rye wine, it was thick and creamy, with lots of nutty rye malt, and no alcohol at all. (Tasting notes)

Not far to the west is Enki Brewing in Victoria MN. Another big place, but more dark and pub-like than Chanhassen's industrial feel. They do have a kitchen here, along with the usual amenities. They were even making S'Mores by the firepit.

The beers are pretty consistent, if run-of-the-mill styles, and quite drinkable. Once again, the favorite was an excellent big beer, The Raven, a 9.4% abv imperial stout. Thick, smooth, chocolatey, malty. (Tasting notes)

After a stop for snacks, we arrived at Excelsior Brewing in Excelsior MN. Nicely busy this afternoon.

They sell bottled beer in the stores around here, and the Big Island Blonde was really tasty when I tried it. The ones we had on tap weren't quite up to that standard, except for the excellent Spresso Milk Stout. At 5% abv, it's richly malty, chocolatey, and just sweet enough. (Tasting notes)

Next up was Unmapped Brewing in Minnetonka MN. Lots and lots and lots of beers here.

(That's a crappy picture of a good brewery.)

Unmapped also sells packaged beer in the local stores, and I've always been impressed with them. In fact, the first three canned beers I tried all went to the Hall of Fame. Three of the ten beers I tried Saturday did the same! (Tasting notes)

Just so you don't get the idea that big dark beers always get the highest scores, I give you Tonka Lite, their 4% abv light lager. Light and fizzy, with a sweet grainy malt flavor and very low bitterness.

Mind the Map missed the Hall of Fame by just one half of a point. This 5.5% abv English ale has a light-medium body, big toasty malt, and a great well-balanced finish.

11th Hour is a fine stout along the same lines as Excelsior's Spresso. Big, smooth, malty chocolatey, and 5.3% abv.

And returning to the big beers, there's a 12% abv barrel-aged imperial stout called Woodlands Project #15. Hugely oaky and perfectly malty.

Finally, we stopped at the very nearby Boom Island Brewing, also in Minnetonka. Lots of beers here too, including a number of Belgian styles. (Tasting notes)

But the ones that got my attention were the Bell Rock American IPA (good, well-balanced beer in an increasingly difficult to find style) and the barrel-aged imperial stout Czernobog. Less oaky than Unmapped's Woodlands, but smooth and delicious.

We briefly discussed swinging by Aegir Brewing on the way home, but after tasting 36 new beers, going home was the right call.

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