Thursday, July 16, 2015

A visit to Broken Seal Brewing

Last week was a busy one for me, which was spent mostly packing, moving & unpacking. With all that was going on, there was little time to review beer. Hence why I had 3 articles released to occupy the time while I was getting settled in. By Saturday morning, the dust had finally settled and (mostly) everything was unpacked, so I needed something to celebrate both the unpacking and the successful move. Luckily about a week prior, I was invited to a tasting party by Russ from Broken Seal Brewing Company based out of Cottage Grove, MN so I decided to accept the invite! Besides, what better way to embrace my return home than with some local beer?

Broken Seal Brewing is currently in the R&D stage and are still technically homebrewers, so right now they do their brewing in a garage. To put it in perspective, they're at roughly the same stage that Angry Inch Brewing was at when I first met them last year. Right now, they're working on their beers and are looking for a place to set up shop somewhere in the Southeast suburbs of the Minneapolis-St. Paul metropolitan area.

Between my time mixing and mingling with the people there, I got to try out a variety of different beers. Since it's summertime, most of them were on the lighter side of the spectrum alcohol-wise, which is good because the temperature was in the upper 70's/lower 80's range that day. They even had little cards that you could fill out to tell the guys what you thought of the beers. Speaking of which, you probably want to know how they tasted, don'tcha? Well, here they are. Please note that these are in the order in which they were listed at the tasting event.

Cream Ale (5.8% ABV; 18 IBUs) - Made with 2 Row, Pilsner Malts, flaked rice, sugar and lightly hopped using Liberty hops. 

For a cream ale, it was very grassy and somewhat on the earthier-side to point where it started venturing into Pilsner territory. Not bad, but not quite true to the style but it's called R&D for a reason.

Kolsch (5.4% ABV; 22 IBUs) - Made with Pilsner & Vienna malts with Hallertau hops.

Nice & light body with some mild pale & pilsner maltiness and even a slight hint of white grapes & mild hoppiness on the back of the palate. Simple flavor but I could see myself drinking this on a hot summer day...which I was!

Berry Blonde (5% ABV; 22 IBUs) - Made with Pilsner, Honey & Crystal Hops with Willamette hops. Infused with raspberries & blackberries.

A nice crisp lager with some nice pale maltiness & light honey notes. The addition of raspberries and blackberries however really help make this already good lager become better. Like the Kolsch before it, perfect for a nice summer day or for a good old fashioned Bar-B-Que. I jokingly suggested the name of Barry Blondes* but I don't think that'll be happening.

Mild (4.2% ABV; 17 IBUs) - Made with British Pale, Crystal & Chocolate Malts with Kent Golding Hops. Described as an English Brown Ale that's high on flavor but low in alcohol.

I'll admit upfront that I wasn't expecting much out of this beer, flavor-wise. Having had my fair share of mild ales, I was expecting maybe a couple seconds of flavor before it went dry; That wasn't the case here. A nice chocolate maltiness dominates the palate with some mild roastiness. The kicker here is that the aftertaste isn't dry and is made of the aforementioned flavors and they linger for a fairly long time.

Perhaps it was a spur of the moment, but I even told them that I was so impressed with this that I didn't feel that it needed to be improved upon. What makes this even more impressive is that this is their first time brewing this style of beer.

Mosaic Pale Ale (5.8% ABV; 40 IBUs) - Made with Mosaic Hops & 2 Row, Vienna & Munich Malts

I'm a huge fan of Mosaic hops due to their robust and fruity characteristics and so are the guys at Broken Seal. The hop profile is nicely displayed here without being overpowering and the maltiness and light yeasts compliment the hops quite nicely.

Session IPA (5% ABV; 48 IBUs) - Made with 2 Row, Crystal & Vienna Malts with Cascade, Centennial & Crystal Hops

A mix of citrus & floral hoppiness with some slight bitter hoppiness on the back of the palate and in the aftertaste, which is otherwise fairly dry. Backing this is up is a nice pale maltiness that balances the flavor out nicely. Nothing I haven't already seen in a session IPA but it does no wrong in my book.

Saison (5.6% ABV; 25 IBUs) - Made with Pilsner, Wheat & Munich Malts with Hallertau Hops and the addition of blood orange zest and cracked peppers.

I'm going to admit upfront that this was my favorite out of all the beers I had there. You've got a nice Belgian yeastiness that is backed up by this buttery-biscuit maltiness with the blood orange zest & light cracked pepper elements giving the flavor a lot of dimension.

The flavor was different than many Saisons I've had before this but it was executed fairly well. Micah from Broken Seal says he wishes to add a little more cracked pepper to the mix in the near future, something which I can say could help but for the time being I'll take this! Some traditionalists of the may think otherwise but I say that this is one tasty Saison!

ESB (6% ABV; 40 IBUs) - Made with 2 Row, Pale Ale & Crystal Malts with WVG Hops

The strongest beer they had in terms of alcohol content. It's got a fairly strong caramel/roasted malt backbone with some bitter hoppiness thrown in for good measure. Nothing mindblowing about it, but a solid beer nonetheless.

Overall, these guys have some great ideas and I'm really looking forward to seeing what they do moving forward. Hopefully they will be able to close in on a place to open up their brewery in the near future. A big shout out to Russ for inviting me out to the event, it was the perfect way to unwind after a crazy week. Also, thanks for the pint glasses guys! My wife may not be thrilled but one can never have too many beer glasses!

You can also check out Broken Seal on Facebook by clicking (here)

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