Behind the Beer: Festbier & Keller Kazbek

Cheers to Three Years

Hello, local beer drinker, we’ve got some beer news for you!

We just dropped a 3rd Anniversary release of mixed four pack of 16 oz. cans that contain two of our very favorite limited edition lagers: Festbier and Keller Kazbek. With any luck, you’ll be seeing it in stores by the end of this sentence.Mixed Lager Pack

Normally, anniversary beers are an opportunity for a brewery to stretch its legs and do something intense. We decided to ignore precedent and go a different route. These beers aren’t the loudest, the wackiest, the most alcoholic or hoppy or sour or barrel-aged or cream-filled. They are, however, good examples of the types of beers we get really excited to brew and to drink. Uncomplicated, well-made, painstaking homages to classic European beer styles. It is our hope that you agree, and that these beers become staples of your early Autumn.

The limited edition Mixed Lager Pack can be found at the locations tagged in this Instagram post.

Festbier

Our Festbier is modeled after the modern German interpretation of the Oktoberfest classic – paler, less heavy, but still delightfully malty and not super bitter. We employed a single-decoction mash, meaning we boiled part of the grain/water mixture for the first time at the new brewery to enhance those toasty, malty notes without getting a ton of caramel sweetness or too much color out of it. Built for celebrations, this beer is perfectly calibrated for consumption by the liter.

Pour this one into a dimpled mug or stein. 5.7% ABV, 20 IBU

*Pro Tip: 16 oz. cans are pretty close a half liter each, thus this 4-Pack yeilds one proper pour of Festbier. Stock up accordingly.

Festbier Cabin

 

Keller Kazbek

Keller Kazbek is an unfiltered German-style pilsner brewed with Kazbek hops from the Czech Republic. The designation “keller” refers to beer served from the conditioning tank without the intermediary step of filtration, so you may notice some haze in this beer (it’s supposed to be there). Kellerbiers can be modeled after any lager style – in our case the inspiration is northern German Pilsner. Kazbek is an interesting hop that has a pretty unique aroma that is much more “grassy” or almost hay-like, combined with the classic noble hop spicy/floral aroma.

Pour this one into a dimpled mug or stein. 4.9% ABV, 38 IBU

Keller Kazbek

 

Fair State Lagers

Cans: Pils (year-round flagship), Festbier + Keller Kazbek (limited edition Mixed Lager pack)

On draft:

  • Pils
  • Festbier (available 8.17)
  • Keller Kazbek (available 8.17)
  • DENT, an organic corn lager brewed in collaboration with Bang Brewing. (available 8.17)
  • FS Lyte, an American light lager
  • Urban Sombrero, a smoked helles lager
  • Vienna Lager
Festbier Cabin

Behind the Beer: Pilsner

Cabin Pils

Head Brewer Niko Tonks in defense of Fizzy Yellow Beer

Pilsner is my first true beer love, and maybe my only real one. It’s never made sense to me that “craft beer,” as a segment, has positioned itself against “fizzy, yellow beer.” I love fizzy yellow beer! Fizzy yellow beer doesn’t have to mean insipid, old, adjunct syrup beer. Fizzy yellow beer is the most popular kind of beer in the world not because some evil cabal of industrial brewers has forced it upon us, but because it’s a kind of beer that very many people enjoy very greatly, myself included.

Pilsner is the undisputed king of fizzy yellow beer. It contains multitudes, and it might just change your entire mindset about beer if you give it a chance. Pilsner began in the 1840s in Pilsen, in what is now the Czech Republic. It proved so popular that it was adopted, in turn, by the Germans, the rest of Northern Europe, and the world, all by the third quarter of the 19th century. Some perhaps less-than-ideal things have happened to Pilsner between then and now, sure, but we all make mistakes.

At its core, in the form that we do our best to emulate, lager bier is all about restraint, intention, detail, and mindset. Lager is not, as so many people would have you believe, the absence of things. It is, in fact, a deeply idiosyncratic palette upon which only certain things may be accurately projected. It requires selection of only the finest ingredients; a willingness to work them in the ways that they demand; and the patience, forbearance, and skill to ensure that those ingredients and our yeast friends play nice.

Pils

Pils CanOur flagship Pils is brewed exclusively with premium barley grown in Bohemia, hops grown in the Hallertau region of Germany, a yeast transplanted from Munich, and local water. We employ a brewhouse regimen perfected in Germany to ensure proper wort composition, and we condition the beer in horizontal vessels well-suited to the task of promoting natural sedimentation and aging of lager. The result is an assertively bitter and hoppy beer that is crisp, well-rounded, and nuanced in the sort of ways that invite you to drink more than one – just to fully contemplate your newfound appreciation for lager, of course.

Pour this one into a flute or footed pilsner glass. 4.9% ABV, 40 IBU

Fair State Pilsners

Cans: Pils (year-round flagship)

On draft: Pils (ongoing)

Press

Star Tribune: “Pilsner makes a comeback in the Twin Cities craft beer scene”

The Growler: “What We’re Drinking: May 2017”

Pils

Behind the Beer: Saison

Du Pounde

Head Brewer Niko Tonks on Saisons.

Saison is a beer style that we love very much, yet is very much misunderstood. It’s been put forth as the “next big thing” in craft beer many times, and never quite gotten over the hump. In our opinion, this is due, at least in part, to the fact that it is tough to nail down.

As beer drinkers, we’re used to beers we can easily classify. Sure, everybody and their brother (including us) likes to mess with “IPA,” but those style descriptions tend towards the self-explanatory: Black IPA (it’s an IPA, but it’s dark), Session IPA (it’s an IPA, but you can drink a few), Hazy IPA (let’s not go there), etc, etc. The word “Saison” is often more problematic – because it has been appended to so many different things over the years, it has been rendered nearly meaningless.

We make no claims to historical accuracy in Saison brewing, fraught as any modern “farmhouse” claims may be. We do, however, recognize that, as Yvan de Baets of Brasserie de le Senne has said (as quoted in Farmhouse Ales, by Phil Markowski):

“A saison must, therefore, be low in alcohol … around 4.5 to 6.5%. It must be highly attenuated … and dry. It must also be either sour or very bitter (with a bitterness obtained by the use of a massive amount of hops low in alpha acid). It shouldn’t, in any case, be smooth. If spices are used, it must be with the utmost moderation. A saison is not by any means a spice soup.”

He goes on to state that Saisons should, properly, be fermented by a mix of organisms, not simply saccharomyces of a single variety. While that isn’t always possible for us, his dichotomy of “bitter” or “sour” is a meaningful one that we have taken to heart.

So. Let’s do our best, if not to clarify than at least to stake a claim: Saison is not a “kitchen sink” beer. It shouldn’t have 35 ingredients. It is a beer for drinking, and as such shouldn’t be 9% ABV. Simplicity should be at its core. We view our Saison grain bills much the same way we view our lager beers – if an ingredient isn’t serving a vital purpose, it’s probably best to leave it out altogether.


How, then, to put this into practice? We have chosen two routes. First, Du Pounde, our year-round “clean” Saison. Fermented without temperature control, brewed with wheat, Vienna, and Pilsner malts, and heavily hopped with Centennial. This beer brings elements of classic Saison expression, American hop character, and continental sensibilities into one simple, easy to parse package. It’s hoppy enough for hopheads, but light and estery enough for those who enjoy fruity wheat beers. Best consumed fresh, with yeast still in suspension, Du Pounde is an everyday beer that we treasure.

Second, we have been working on a mixed culture Saison that embraces, as de Baets says, the “small ‘wild’ side (of saison), rustic, indefinable, far from the clean aspect of certain engineered beers of today.” Beginning July 15 at our Mixed Culture festival in St. Paul, we are proud to present, in collaboration with Oakhold Farmhouse Brewery, “Barrel Fermented Du Pounde” (or BFD# as we have been calling it), a blend of our favorite mature pale sour barrels from the cellar. This beer is the culmination of many brew days, lots of barrel samples, and copious amounts of microbes. It utilizes a similar base recipe to Du Pounde, and spends anywhere from 4-8 months in oak. Funky, sour, oaky, and complex, BFD# is our attempt to capture that second trajectory of what Saison can be.

We are excited to continue down these two paths, and to better understand what Saison means, in the here and now of craft brewing. Hopefully, you’ll join us.

Fair State Saisons

Cans: Du Pounde

Bottles: Saison Drei, Barrel-Fermented Du Pounde (July 22)

On draft: Du Pounde, Points North, Dakota Skipper (July 13)

On draft at Mixed Culture 2017 (July 15):

  • Barrel-Fermented Du Pounde
  • Passionfruit Barrel-Fermented Du Pounde
  • Blueberry Barrel-Fermented Du Pounde

Press

City Pages: “Local Suds: 5 Minnesota beers to try in August”

Du Pounde

Behind the Beer: Hefeweizen

Hefeweizen

Head Brewer Niko Tonks on Hefeweizen.

Bavarian wheat beer is a very particular animal, with an interesting story. Wheat beers were produced across Bavaria for quite some time before the famous German purity law of 1516 (the Reinheitsgebot) was passed, but after that law (which was in large part a tax grab and an effort at protectionism) went into effect, its production had to be specifically licensed under an exception to the rule. Thankfully, someone of royal descent liked wheat beers, or the whole thing might have gone kaput right then and there.

Hefeweizen is a deeply idiosyncratic style – unlike most German (or German-inspired) beers, it is intentionally cloudy, has intense yeast character, and is inherently unstable. Its production requires a very long day in the brewhouse, since dealing with wheat is more difficult than barley, and because a multiple-temperature mash regimen is necessary to bring the clove and banana (phenol and ester) flavors into balance.

The yeast we use was originally isolated by the oldest continually operating brewery in the world, and it is the most commonly used hefeweizen yeast on this side of the pond. It ferments quickly, aggressively, and prefers to do its work under at least a little stress. It also prefers shallow, wide vessels, as opposed to tall skinny ones. We ferment ours in an old dairy tank for optimum yeast expression because of course, we do.

Hefeweizen is often regarded as a gateway craft beer, for some odd reason – I find it to be one of the most interesting and potentially difficult to parse beer styles out there. It is very low bitterness, requires a high level of carbonation, and has a super unique flavor profile.

My old boss, Chip McElroy – owner of Live Oak Brewing in Austin, Texas puts it this way:

“American Wheat Beer and Hefeweizen are often lumped together in the same breath, which is a mistake. It’s like this: there’s nothing wrong with a hot dog and cole slaw, but if you ordered a bratwurst and sauerkraut and someone handed you that hot dog and slaw, you might be kinda pissed off. Real deal hefeweizen is like that – you have to pay the price in terms of process to really get the thing right.”

Always pour your Hefeweizen into a glass. It’s unfiltered, so there will be a sediment on the bottom of the can. That is yeast, and also what packs the most flavor. Pour 3/4th of the beer into the glass, then swirl the remaining beer in the can to rouse the yeast, and then pour the rest into your glass.

Fair State Hefeweizens

Cans: Hefeweizen

On draft: Seasonal (typically April – August)

Press

Star Tribune: “Best Minnesota beers for summer grilling, plus a few out-of-state favorites”

City Pages: “5 Hefeweizens to try right now: Schell’s Jace Marti picks 5 favorites”

Star Tribune: “Change up your beer for the season and reach for a German wheat”

Hefeweizen

introducing Member Week!

We are quite proud of the more than 1,000 Member-Owners that are the foundation of our cooperative. These people have supported our business through patronage, our neighbors through volunteer initiatives, our community through social gatherings, and so much more! To highlight and highfive these great folks, we are throwing our first Member Week. April 1-7th will be packed full of events celebrating membership, cooperatives, and coming together around good beer. Everyone is Welcome!
(members get some special deals)

SATURDAY 4/1:
Members First – Potluck Brunch
& Super Member Happy Hour 12-2pm.
SUNDAY 4/2:
Crowler Debut,
Stand-Up Comedy at 8:30,
Member Happy Hour all day.
MONDAY 4/3:
Cribbage Night 6-8pm,
1/2 off you first beer with another co-op’s card,
Member Happy Hour all day.
TUESDAY 4/4:
Fair State-sponsored music and $2 off all FS pours at 331 Club. Music at 8:30pm.
WEDNESDAY 4/5:
Co-op Trivia with Tommy.
THURSDAY 4/6:
Fair State Cooperates Planned Parenthood Poster Party 7-9PM. Sign up here.
FRIDAY 4/7:
Member Thank You Party
1/2 off all pours for member-owners, all day!
Member Wall photobooth 4-8pm.

Berry Pick for Beer

DSC02751

This last Sunday we rallied a bunch of Fair State members and friends at Lorence’s Berry Farm just outside of Northfield, MN. The day was beautiful and the bugs were at an acceptable level. Our goal was to harvest a bunch of raspberries for use in an upcoming sour beer.

 

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With a combination of volunteers and staff, we had a total of 19 pickers. We were at it for about 2.5 hours, but our labors should prove fruitful.

DSC02786

 

The folks at Lorence’s were a delight to work with. Between the collaborative effort of our members, friends, staff, and a hands-on local harvest, I think we will have something pretty special with this beer.

DSC02781

 

Keep your eyes peeled for U Pick, a mixed culture barrel-aged sour, re-firmented on 280lbs of raspberries. To be release in 750ml bottles and draft late Fall.