Behind the Beer: IPA

IPA Cans

Head Brewer Niko Tonks on India Pale Ale.

“IPA” has more or less become synonymous with “craft beer.” I’ve seen White IPA, Black IPA, DIPA, IIPA, Triple IPA, Belgian IPA, Session IPA, Hazy IPA, West Coast IPA, Red IPA, Brown IPA, Milkshake IPA, Fruited IPA, IPL, Sour IPA, Barrel-Aged IPA, Coffee IPA, Chili Pepper IPA, Double Dry-Hopped IPA, Continuously-Hopped IPA, and even the rare old school British-style IPA. To be honest, this proliferation of hop juice wears on us sometimes.

So why, at this late date, did we decide to make a beer that’s just plain old “IPA” and put it in big, bright red cans? Well, long story short, we’ve been watching IPA as a category and we thought we had something to add to the conversation. Our goal with this entry into a crowded field is to cherry-pick all the things we like about IPA as a broad category and put them together in one beer.

We like: IPA you can see through, even if you have to squint (even if we make the occasional one you can’t). IPA that is intensely aromatic: fruity, citrusy, floral, and maybe a bit dank. IPA that isn’t heavy, sweet, dark, caramel-laden, or overly bitter. IPA that is soft, easy to drink, and crisp all at once.

With Fair State IPA, we think we’ve hit on most of these things. It is brewed with German Pilsner and Red Wheat malts, fermented with our house English Ale yeast strain, and hopped with Horizon, Chinook, Crystal, Simcoe, Centennial, and Cascade hops to the tune of almost 4 pounds per barrel. Old school, new school, and the kind of school no one much cared about until now, all wrapped up in one neat, inviting package. We hope you enjoy.

FAIR STATE IPAs

Cans: IPA, Spirit Foul

Bottles: Dorado Gold (Brett IPA)

On draft: IPA, Spirit Foul, Dorado Gold

PRESS

City Pages: “The 10 Best Minnesota IPAs”

The Growler: “The Taste Test: Blind-tasting 53 Minnesota IPAs”

 

IPA Glass & 4-Pack

Homebrew Member Challenge #2


Have you been searching for a way to bring your homebrew to the next level?

Well, now is your chance!

Last year’s inaugural Homebrew Member Challenge had such great results (remember Kyle Schmidt’s Keller Blanc?), that we’re doing it again. Pretty much the same deal as last year – Submit your homebrew for a chance to have it brewed as a full-size commercial batch on our system (15bbl). We’re looking to try your finished product, in bottle form. So no sitting on your haunches. Get that brew kettle boiling!

We are accepting submissions from June 26-30th during taproom hours.

(4x) 12oz bottles or (2x) 22oz (or 750s) bottles of each beer you submit.
Limit of 4 submissions per person.

Rules are as follows:

This competition is open to member-owners of Fair State Brewing Cooperative.
Not yet a member? You can sign up right here!
Label your beer! (use an avery label/paper tag)
– Your name
– What you’re calling the beer

– A one-line description of the beer

YEAST: As long as it wasn’t harvested from a beard, it’s probably fair game.

MALT/HOPS: Feel free to use any malts or hops you want, but be aware that we’re unlikely able to source a bunch of Citra or Mosaic or the like (basically anything from the Southern Hemisphere is out).

ADJUNCTS: Fruits and other adjuncts (either in the mash, kettle, or fermenter) are fine, within reason. We can’t source 200# of Durian or Dragonfruit (please don’t make Durian beers, anyway). For a quick guide, anything available from Oregon Fruit in puree format is totally cool. Locally available things may be ok, but might not be depending on when this slots into the schedule. Herbs and spices are generally not problematic.

Kettle or quick sour beers are fine, Beers co-fermented with Lactobacillus and yeast are fine. Brett. fermentation in either primary or secondary is fine, but barrel-aging is out. Not enough room in the barrel room to make it work. This means no Pedio. While we do like sour and funky beer around here, that doesn’t mean we’re any more likely to pick a sour or funky beer than a clean one. Brew what you like, don’t try to conform to what we do just because you feel like you should.

The competition will be judged “best in show” style, and we don’t really care too much about style conventions. The Judging Panel will be made up of our brew team and last year’s winner, Kyle Schmidt.

We’ll brew 15 barrels of the winning beer, with the winner being invited to come sit in on brew day.

The Beer is Here: 2016 Member Homebrew Challenge

Kyle Schmidt stole our mouth-hearts with his Pale Lager featuring Hallertau Blanc Hops at our probably-annual Member Homebrew Challenge in July.  The barley has been malted, the grain has been mashed, the beer has been brewed and it’s ready to drink.

Now Pouring: Keller Blanc Pale Lager, designed by member-owner Kyle Schmidt.

Keller Blanc

Bold, hop-forward, and well-balanced with malt. Pineapple, gooseberry, white-grape & lemongrass flavors give it a unique tropical profile. You’ll want another. 5.5% ABV, 30 IBU.

Kyle has been drinking Fair State since Day 1 and has been a Co-op Member-Owner since 2016 (#627).  He developed his passion for beer in 2011 when his then-future wife gifted him a homebrewing starter kit.  It was a fast, exciting time in the midst of a rapid resurgence of Minnesota breweries and Kyle caught the fever.  He became a Certified Cicerone in November 2012, which allowed him to forego his teaching job for a position with the Better Beer Society and then Badger Hill Brewing.  Kyle currently lives in Richfield and works as the Assistant General Manager at Northern Brewer – Minneapolis.

How did you get involved with Fair State?Homebrew Winner
Kyle: I’ve been drinking Fair State beer since day 1!  Simply put, Fair State focuses on executing the types of beer that I always strive to have in my fridge: lagers, session-strength hop-forward beers, farmhouse styles, and mixed culture.  While supporters from the beginning, my wife and I were inspired to become member-owners in 2016 because we’ve always loved the atmosphere and strong, welcoming community at the FSBC taproom.  It’s our favorite place to unwind with a couple of pints and bump into friends.  Of course, Aki’s pretzels don’t hurt either! 

How would you describe your Keller Blanc?
Kyle: It’s a beer that is hop-forward (on the edge of bold) without being aggressive or bitter.  The Hallertau Blanc hop is a newer German variety that combines some of the delicacy of traditional noble-type hops with the big flavor profile of next-generation IPA-type varieties.  It’s difficult to work with in the brewhouse because it can get harsh very quickly in the boil kettle, but the challenge of making this beer was in highlighting the pineapple, gooseberry, white-grape and lemongrass flavors that give it a unique tropical profile.  There’s just enough malt presence there to balance it all out and make you want another.

What led you to choosing that beer style?
Kyle: I’ve always been a huge fan of pale German-style lagers.  When done right, I believe they represent the epitome of what approachable, sessionable, and easy-drinking craft beer can be.  These styles are important in a craft landscape often dominated by the bold and aggressive flavors of IPAs and mixed-culture fermentations.  I also love that as a brewer there’s nothing to hide behind.  These beers feature simple ingredient bills so your process and technique have to be spot on the do them well or people will know.  One of my favorite things about FSBC is their embrace of these craft lager styles and the reputation they’ve earned for doing them so well.  

Kyle Schmidt

What was your experience like working on a larger scale
Kyle: The brewhouse at FSBC is not a sexy one, to be sure!  Certainly no button tapping on iPads or computers, just a lot of running around the old-fashioned way.  I’ve always told people the best way to brew is to be two steps ahead of whatever is next, and Niko and Caleb run a tight ship that demonstrates just what that looks like if you want to find success day in and day out.  We were fortunate in that the recipe scaled well and could work within the established parameters of FSBC’s lager processes, but we certainly enjoyed bringing a couple of new ingredients into the brewhouse for this beer.

There’s a lot to live up to when a new beer hits the taproom at FSBC!  I’m just hopeful that it’s well received and worthy of the tap line, and maybe even good enough to make again!

Many thanks to all of the Member-Owners that participated in the first of our probably-annual Homebrew Challenge.  We hope the process was rewarding and we thoroughly enjoyed tasting the products of your hard work.

Pouring pints of Kyle Schmidt’s Keller Blanc Pale Lager at 4pm on Thursday, October 13.  Come get yourself a taste.

If brewing your beer with Niko & the Fair State team sounds like something you’d be into, become a Member-Owner and get ready for our next Homebrewer Challenge. Before you know it, we could be pouring pints of your recipe in the Taproom.

Brew it. Drink it. Share it. #HappyOurs

Home Brew Challenge