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Brewery setup at Clockworks Brewing
Brewery setup at Clockworks Brewing

Homebrew Con 2017 – part 1

Sampler flight at Water Street Brewery, Milwaukee
Sampler flight at Water Street Brewery, Milwaukee

Homebrew Con, or the National Homebrewer’s Conference as it used to be called, was held in the twin cities of Minneapolis / St Paul in Minnesota this year. This was a new state for me to visit personally so I decided it would make a good road trip even though it was a 15 hour drive from State College, PA.

Road Trip

On day one I called in at Cleveland (OH) to pick up my homebrew buddy then stopped overnight in Toledo. On day two we crossed the state of Indiana and negotiated the Chicago (IL) traffic before traveling onto Milwaukee (WI).

Thunderstorms whilst traveling to Minneapolis
Thunderstorms whilst traveling to Minneapolis

We previously visited Milwaukee on our Wisconsin brewery tour back in 2014 (see these posts Рparts 1 & 2) so were familiar with the brewing scene. With it being a Sunday it was not ideal with some breweries being closed but we managed a sampler flight at Water Street Brewing together with visits to some quality craft beer bars.

Prior to hitting the interstates with visited Sprecher Brewing located in Glendale just north of Milwaukee to stock up on cases of their Belgian Tripel and Wee Heavy.

The journey over to Minneapolis was through wave after wave of thunderstorms which made it tough going before encountering rush hour traffic in St Paul.

Pre-conference breweries

Flight at Rock Bottom Brewery
Flight at Rock Bottom Brewery

Arriving in Minneapolis gave us two full days to visit some of the many craft breweries located in the twin cities.

On Tuesday we started off with lunch at Rock Bottom Brewery and a flight which consisted of the following beers:

  • Northern Lights Kolsch (5% ABV, 24 IBUs)
  • Mills City Wheat (5.4% ABV, 23 IBUs)
  • Skol Vinr! Amber (6.0% ABV, 25 IBUs)
  • Howling Loon IPA (6.0% ABV, 50 IBUs)
  • Iron Horse Dark (5.0% ABV, 18 IBUs)
  • Secret Knock Sticke Altbier (5.8% ABV, 37 IBUs)
Belgian Witbier & Belgian Golden Strong at Clockworks Brewing
Belgian Witbier & Belgian Golden Strong at Clockworks Brewing

Next stop was Clockworks Brewing who were brewing a Belgian Witbier whilst we sat at the bar sampling and talking. This brewery has only been open 7 months and has a great pair of brewers who were happy to discuss various aspects of their setup and brewing process. We started with a flight of the following:

  • Belgian Witbier (4.5% ABV, 13 IBUs)
  • BOHO Rye (4.7% ABV, 33 IBUS) – Bohemian Rye Pilsner
  • ESB (4.8% ABV, 34 IBUs) – London Ale
  • Alt (5.4% ABV, 40 IBUs)
  • BGS (9.2% ABV, 26 IBUs) – Belgian Golden Strong
  • American Pale Ale (5.8% ABV, 68 IBUs)
  • Equanaut IPA (6.8% ABV, 76 IBUs) – American IPA
Tap handles at The Freehouse
Tap handles at The Freehouse

We also sampled their Double IPA which was due to be poured at Pro Night during Homebrew Con.

We continued on to The Freehouse which is located in an up and coming area of Minneapolis and enjoyed happy hour pints of the following:

  • Rye Saison (6.2% ABV)
  • Sticke Alt (6.2% ABV)

Next up were stops at Fulton Brewing Company and Modist Brewing Company.

Fulton Brewing Company
Fulton Brewing Company
Pints at Modist Brewing
Pints at Modist Brewing
Modist Brewing mash filter
Modist Brewing mash filter

We had an interesting conversation with the brewer at Modist Brewing Company about their Mash Filter which acts like a French Press and provides a 45% saving on malted barley. This is because the grist can be milled to a flour consistency which increases the surface area for water contact and the enzymes to convert the starches into sugar. It also provides them with a quicker mashing process reducing overall brewing time. Apparently this type of apparatus has been used on a much larger scale by the macro breweries for many years but a smaller scale version for craft breweries is a recent innovation.

Our final stop on Tuesday was Inbound Brewing Company where three enthusiasts sat next to us were sharing the largest sampler flight I have ever seen! Basically it was a 4oz pour of every beer on tap… we on the other hand by this time of night were more restrained.

Sampler flight at Inbound Brewing
Sampler flight at Inbound Brewing
Final beers of the night at Inbound Brewing
Final beers of the night at Inbound Brewing
Dangerous Man Brewing
Dangerous Man Brewing

After an intensive day of visiting breweries on Tuesday we opted to start out much more gently on Wednesday with a walk over to the convention center to register at Homebrew Con and collect our swag bag which we took back to the hotel so we would not have to haul it and the commemorative beers around the conference.

Late on in the afternoon we took a cab to Dangerous Man Brewing Company where we enjoyed the following beers:

  • Belgian Golden Strong
  • Blueberry Milkshake IPA (7.3% ABV, 70 IBUs)
  • Kolsch (5.0% ABV, 20 IBUs)
  • Peanut Butter Porter (6.1% ABV, 29 IBUs)
Pints at Dangerous Man Brewing
Pints at Dangerous Man Brewing
Taps & beer menu at Dangerous Man Brewing
Taps & beer menu at Dangerous Man Brewing
Indeed Brewing Company beer list
Indeed Brewing Company beer list

Our final brewery stop before the conference was at Indeed Brewing Company where we sampled a couple of their beers:

  • Flock Together Hoops (7.5% ABV, 25 IBUs) – Belgian Dubbel
  • Tripel (9.2% ABV, 44 IBUs) – from their Derailed Series

Look out for part 2 of our Homebrew Con trip to Minneapolis where we finally attended the conference…

If you have any question or remarks please feel free to comment below.

2 comments

  1. The use of grain milled down to powder to increase surface area and speed up mash times sounds reasonable although I would have expected the finely milled grain would present problems with a stuck mash–apparently the French press avoids that?

    • yes Paul, the Mash Filter squeezes the water out of the grain using hydraulics with the resultant grain ‘wafers’ being almost bone dry and they drop out of the bottom when the press is released.

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