Wednesday, November 2, 2016

A visit to Rhombus Guys Brewing Company

This past weekend I was in Northwest Minnesota visiting family as well as paying respects to my Grandma, who's grave I haven't visited since she passed away a few years back. After that, I spent the next couple of days in North Dakota, mainly because I had heard stories about how craft brewing is starting to take off there.

The first brewery I visited was Rhombus Guys Brewing Company in Grand Forks, ND and located literally 500 feet from the North Dakota/Minnesota border. Rhombus Guys actually got their start as a pizza chain in NE North Dakota/NW Minnesota about 16 years ago. I also recall having their pizza when I was visiting about 10-12 years ago and I found them to be quite tasty. In any case, before leaving for my trip, I was doing my research on potential breweries to visit when this popped up. It turns out Rhombus Guys opened their brewery operation last year and are even available in a few places in the Grand Forks area. It is worth noting, however, that the taproom itself doesn't serve pizza but has it's own separate menu. The actual Rhombus Guys pizza place is located right around the corner, so there is that.

The taproom itself is situated in an old Opera House and the outside design of the building reflects that. The taproom itself has quite a bit of seating, along with a few jumbo TVs to watch college football on; After all Grand Fork is the home of the UND Fighting Sioux/Hawks. However the best feature of the taproom (aside from the beer) would have to be the pinball machines!

You've got The Walking Dead pinball machine, a show which I'm a pretty big fan of but they also have a Bobby Orr pinball machine, which I considered to be a nice little slice of Americana; Again, college sports are huge in this town, in regards in particular to hockey.

Anyways, let's get to the beer. There were 11 offerings to choose from and seeing as how it was my birthday, I decided to get a flight of them all; Just because I wasn't sure when I was going to be back in the area. Plus it was my birthday that day after all, so I wanted to make the most of it.

Iconic Blonde (Blonde Ale, 4.8% ABV, 16 IBUs) - This blonde ale has a nice light floral hoppiness with some pale malts with just a hint of biscuit yeasts and a dry aftertaste. Nothing special, just a solid drinkable blonde ale.

Doc's Orders (Wheat Ale, 5% ABV, 20 IBUs) - Malted wheat with some light floral and bitter hops with just a touch of yeast. Like Iconic Blonde, this one also had a dry aftertaste. Again, nothing special but it's drinkable and there's nothing wrong with it.

Illusion (Amber Ale, 5.5% ABV, 25 IBUs) - Munich and toasted malts with light chocolate notes and light floral hops. Aftertaste is light toasted malts and mild hops. Once more, nothing remarkable but it's a solid beer nevertheless.

Invincible (American Pale Ale, 5.5% ABV, 34 IBUs) - Nice floral hop and biscuit yeast flavors with some bitter hops on the back end of the palate and in the aftertaste. A good pale ale, though nothing I'd consider to be out of the ordinary.

Act II (India Pale Ale, 7% ABV, 70 IBUs) - Strong citrus and resin hops throughout the palate with a nice hefty toffee malt backbone. The back end of the palate along with aftertaste consists mainly of bitter, resin hops. While it's nothing new, the sum of the parts comes together in a very nice good way

Collision Wet Hop (India Pale Ale, 6.2% ABV, Unknown IBUs) - A wet hop IPA with hops from Fertile Vineyards in Fertile, MN. Strong piney dank hops with some light floral notes and hefty pale and toffee malt backbone. The aftertaste is also on the piney side and it definitely tastes fresh. I haven't had many wet hop IPAs recently but this one does the trick nicely!

Vertical (India Pale Lager, 8.5% ABV, 86 IBUs) - Rich citrus and grapefruit notes with some light lager yeasts and a solid pale malt backbone with just a hint of toffee. The aftertaste is surprisingly dry, save for some mild grapefruit sweetness. It's definitely one of the best IPLs I've had in quite some time!

Train Wreck (India Pale Ale, 6.5% ABV, 69 IBUs) - Piney hops and grapefruit notes with a fairly big caramel malt backbone, along with a bitter hop aftertaste. If I didn't know better, I'd say I was drinking a Surly Furious. Excellent beer, nevertheless!

No Coast (India Red Ale, 6.2% ABV, 53 IBUs) - Moderate toffee malts with some mild piney & citrus hops. The aftertaste is also fairly toffee-malt forward with some light piney hops. I haven't been a fan of the maltier IPAs I've had recently, and this one didn't really do it for me. Probably the weakest of the bunch.

Oktoberfest (Marzen, 5.6% ABV, 24 IBUs) - Toasted Munich malts with some mild floral hops and light yeastiness. It's drinkable but not any different from any Oktoberfest beer I've had before. If you're a fan of the style, you'll like it. As for me, it's standard issue as far as I'm concerned.

Into the Darkness (Porter, 5% ABV. 20 IBUs) - Nice chocolate malts with some roasted barley and a touch of floral hops. As for the aftertaste, it's mostly roasted barley and light chocolate malts. It's nice and fairly sessionable porter, I just wish there were more darker beers like this.

Overall, Rhombus Guys Brewing had some mostly pretty solid beers, with the Fresh Hop IPA & IPL being my favorites. It would've been nice, however, to see fewer pale ales and an overall more diverse selection of styles like Saisons, Brown Ales,  etc. I understand IPAs and Pale Ales at large are in high demand and all but when half of your tap list is all pale ales, it starts getting predictable.

However as it stands, they've got some good things going there and if I'm ever in the area again, I'll have to swing on in and see what they've come up with. As for you, the reader, this place is for sure worth checking out.

I'll end the article by saying this: the food offered is excellent. I had a fantastic pulled pork sandwich with a side of fries and a S'mores desert to finish the meal. I don't know what it was about it (and I kick myself for not taking a picture) but it is literally the best S'mores desert that I have ever had. Be sure to ask for it if you're ever there!

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