Friday, August 8, 2014

A visit to The Boathouse Brewpub & Restaurant

This week is technically supposed to be my honeymoon, but me and the wife had to improvise as far as what to do for a vacation. Since places like Germany, Mexico, and Italy are (currently) out of the questions, we decided to get away for a couple of days and make our way to beautiful Ely, Minnesota.

Ely is a remote town located in the northern part of Minnesota's Iron Range and is the primary entry point for the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW) in the Superior National Forest. Ely is considered by many to be the Canoe Capital of the world due to its high production of canoes and proximity to the BWCA. For the record, I had never been to Ely before; In fact, I've only been to the Iron Range maybe about 3-4 times either for Giant's Ridge or for hockey back when I was in high school, so this trip was somewhat of an adventure for myself.

Now I wouldn't be writing about this unless there was beer involved, which in this instance there is. Which brings us to The Boathouse Brewpub, the only brewery located in the Iron Range. Located on the main drag of Sheridan Road (the main street that runs through Ely,) this brewpub has more of a quaint feel to it, yet the atmosphere accurately reflects that Northwoods feel that we all know and love.

Since the drive was about 2 1/2 hours, I decided to sample all of the beers they had on tap through a flight. Keep in mind that a couple of these beers are no longer on tap at the time of writing this but I feel this article accurately reflects the choices that Boathouse offers on a regular basis.

Boathouse Blueberry Blonde - Not only are blueberries used in the brewing process but they actually throw in a couple of blueberries after pouring! A fairly light blonde ale but the blueberry sweetness really livens things up and the fruity and light floral hop finish make for an excellent blonde ale.

Boathouse Husky Hefe - This beer starts out with some malt wheat and banana notes before changing over to a nice berry sweetness and finish. Not complex by any means but a perfect beer for a hot summer day.

Boathouse Dock Star Pilsner - A pilsner with some grassy notes and mild citrus hop sweetness. It possesses a solid pilsner and pale maltiness and finishes rather dry. Perfect beer for the warm summer day outside and the beer of choice for my wife.

Boathouse Katzenjammer IPA - I decided to try out both this and Bearded Fellers side-by-side. This IPA starts out with a nice citrus hop profile with a solid caramel malt backbone and a bitter floral hop finish.

Boathouse Bearded Fellers IPA - On the flipside, this IPA has a fairly strong piney hop profile upfront with a fairly mild caramel maltiness and a bitter resiny finish. Though they had two IPAs on tap, the differences were fairly obvious. Still a good IPA though!

Boathouse Off-Kilter Scottish Wee Heavy - Very smokey taste all around with some prominent peated scotch notes. The aftertaste opens up to a surprisingly strong (for the style) dry hoppiness and caramel sweetness. Definitely one of the smokier wee heavies I've had but I found it to be nicely balanced.

After trying out their beers, I would say that Boathouse Brewpub is definitely worth the drive up to Ely, especially if you're looking for something new or if you're in the mood for some truly local beer. They also have BWCA-legal plastic growlers in case you want to bring some with you canoeing. On one final note, it's worth mentioning that drive up there is gorgeous! I mean it when I say that the Northwoods are absolutely beautiful at this time of year and the clear skies made it even more so which makes the experience all the more enjoyable.

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