This upcoming November marks three years since we began adventuring and story-telling our way through the Minnesota and Midwest craft beer scenes. Along the way, we’ve developed meaningful relationships, sipped plenty of delicious craft beers, traveled to some pretty neat places and been offered some pretty incredible opportunities we never could have imagined for ourselves. We’ve grown immensely in our own knowledge of and passion for the industry, and we continue to be grateful for the privilege to participate in and advocate for the local craft beer community.
There’s one aspect of craft beer, however, we’d never dabbled in until this year — actually brewing beer! Occasionally, we’ve been asked if we home brew or have considered it; but our answer has always been the same — “Nope! We don’t have any desire to, and, besides, there’s already too much great beer out there to be had!” While that remains true, when an opportunity presented itself to brew a beer earlier this year, we didn’t pass it up!
Ever since Nordic Brewing Company opened in Monticello two years ago, we’ve maintained a good relationship with the people there. At the time, we were living in Monticello ourselves and were thrilled to see them join the community. We developed an amiable relationship with the folks there, and when owner Zach Barthel reached out earlier this year to ask “Hey, would you guys want to brew a collaboration beer with us?” our answer was quick — “Umm, heck yeah!”
We first sat down with Zach and head brewer Matt Belz in early spring. “So,” Matt asked, “What do you guys want to brew? Any ideas?” As a matter of fact, we did have an idea. About a year before we’d had a really fantastic Pink Lemonade IPA from Untitled Art Brewing out of Madison that kind of blew our minds. We hadn’t seen anything like it since — at least not around Minnesota — and, with summer on the way, we thought it would be a great drink for the season and something the local community hadn’t seen before. Matt was all about it and set about working on a recipe. Unfortunately, COVID hit, putting plans temporarily on hold. When we finally picked things back up again, it was already late summer. Despite the delay, it had given Matt plenty of time to refine his recipe and even try out a couple ideas on previous beers.
We joined Matt Belz and his assistant brewer Matt Chermak on a Wednesday night for the grueling work of brewing our Pink Lemonade IPA — and by “grueling work” we really mean adding a couple easy ingredients, drinking beer together and getting plenty of photos and video to make it look like we’d worked hard! Both Matts put in the brunt of the work and deserve the real credit.
As far as recipe, Matt Belz landed on grains from local Minnesota ingredient company Maltwerks, organic lemon peel for the mouth-pucker, and raspberry puree for the color and sweetness. After brewing, the beer sat in a tank for a month to really enhance flavors before it was released on tap. During that time, Zach lined up some live music, we created some marketing materials and together we promoted our beer’s release hard on social media.
Ale Adventure Time Pink Lemonade IPA officially hit Nordic’s taps Saturday, September 19 to an overwhelmingly positive reception! A perfect compliment of tart lemon and sweet berry, it was a perfect kick the mouth and everything we’d hoped it would be! The name itself is a play on words — a combination of our beer blogging name Ale Adventures and the Cartoon Network animated series Adventure Time. Friends, family and plenty of people we didn’t know showed up for our beer, live music and food from the Rib Cage. Zach told us later that the night was the second-busiest and second-best night of revenue of the year!
We can now officially say we’ve brewed a beer! If you ask us, though, if we’re going to start brewing at home, our answer will still be the same as before — not likely; we’ll gladly leave the brewing to the pros and just enjoy the benefits! For a fun behind-the-scenes of our time brewing with Nordic Brewing Company, watch our TikTok video below!