Key takeaways: Knowledgeable and friendly brewing instructors, laid back setting to explore beer brewing and learn about beer. Fantastic tours 😉
Have you ever brewed beer? I once asked for and received a beer brewing kit for my birthday only to let it sit in the back of my closet and eventually expire. It wasn’t on account of laziness, but because of a book I had read about the brewing process that emphasized one thing continuously: STERILIZE, STERILIZE, STERILIZE. I was so intimidated by the hospital-like environment I would supposedly have to maintain that I never summoned the wherewithal to actually attempt the brewing process. Enter: Vine Park Brewing.
At Vine Park you can choose from a menu of options of beer to brew. Once you’ve decided, they set up the ingredients and equipment to brew your beer and it’s your job to measure and pour. Through out the process, you can enjoy Vine Park’s own brews – if you take a tour. They don’t yet have their taproom license, but they can give you a $7 “tour” of the brewery (it involves a lot of in-place gesticulating) that comes with a free pint at the end.
The aspect of Vine Park I found most impressive was the knowledgeable brew instructors. The employee we brewed with, Jeremy, entertained us with discussions of the best craft lagers, ales that masquerade as lagers, wet hop vs. dry hop (they’re not two sides of the same coin), what makes an IPA an IPA (and not just a pale ale), the price of six packs, and the new seltzer trend.
While our wort boiled, we were treated to an actual tour of the facilities and got to see other customers’ beer and wine fermenting in the back. At the end of the boiling process, we added hops in three stages to give our beer (the 100% Evil IPA – an analog to Surly Furious) a complex and layered hop flavor. Once our beer was siphoned into its fermentation bucket, we wrapped up and scheduled our next visit to Vine Park: bottling.
We arrived at Vine Park to bottle on a Saturday morning, a few days after fears about the novel coronavirus and COVID-19 had really started to set in for Minnesota. Bottling beer during a pandemic revealed itself to be a harmonious activity as both of those require copious amounts of hand sanitizer. All in all, it was an unexpectedly therapeutic experience as we chatted with the owner about the bizarre era we’re all living through, munched on subs, and sampled our creation. Our reviews of Vine Park’s own brews can be found at the Untappd links below:
- Big Tex IPA (3/5)
- Chocolate Cherry Stout (4/5)
- Jai’s Extra Pale Ale (4.5/5) (not on Untappd)
- Very close to an IPA. Hoppier than the Tex.
- Walnut Brown Ale (3.5/5)