‘Rails & Ales’ Partner Spotlight
Leading up to our 6th Annual Rails & Ales: Light Rail Brewery Crawl, your local gurus at GetKnit will be doing a bi-weekly partner spotlight with the goal of helping you get to know our featured brewery partners that much better. Whether they are your favorite taproom in the Twin Cities or still on your “must hit” list, we hope you find this new article to be informative and entertaining! For this installment of our partner spotlight we chatted with our Birch’s Lowertown – one of our newest additions to this year’s Rails and Ales. Enjoy…
When did you open to the public – both Birch’s on the Lake and then your Lowertown Location?
Birch’s on the Lake opened in September 2015, Birch’s Lowertown opened in September 2018
Tell us a little bit about your brewery name.
There used to be a restaurant in Long Lake called Birch’s restaurant that my partners Burt & Ashley ran for 8 years, they just really like Birch trees and thought it was a good name. In 2014 Brennan Greene partnered up with Birch’s and found a new location up the street on Long Lake and added a brewery.
Describe your brewery in 3 words.
Great Beer & Food
Did you always plan to open multiple locations? Tell us a bit more about that.
No, we only ever planned on one location, but when Tim Mckee asked us to look at the Lowertown space we thought it was too good of a situation to pass up. Great location, and the food comes from the James Beard Award winning chef Tim Mckee at Octo Fish Bar. We were concerned about the beer being as fresh as possible so we installed another 10bbl brewhouse in Lowertown just to serve that location.
Your STP taproom is located in downtown St. Paul right next to CHS Field. Tell us a bit more about why you chose this area for your second location and what you like most about the neighborhood?
Lowertown is a great up and coming neighborhood. Being across the street from CHS Field and the St Paul Farmer’s market was clearly a draw, as well as the growing population of the area, yet it isn’t as pricey as Minneapolis or Wayzata. We like that people care about independent authentic restaurants, and knew that we fit in great to that mold, especially as we are making the beer right there. You don’t see many national chain restaurants in Lowertown.
How do you get inspiration for your beer names?
We hate stupid names for beers and have always called the beer simply by the style name. Our Hazy IPA, for example, is called: Hazy IPA. That way we can educate our customers to different styles and not try and confuse them with silly names that don’t mean anything as far as what the beer will taste like.
This will be your first time on Rails and Ales! What are you most excited about as a first time featured brewery along the rails?
We were always jealous in years past that we weren’t near the green line so we could be part of Rails and Ales, so we are super excited about being included this year. If Brews and Busses was any indication it should be a great exposure for us as many people still don’t know we exist or that we are a brewery.
Do you have any exciting plans for this year’s Rails and Ales?
As a brewpub we are allowed to sell liquor and wine along with our beer, to highlight this we will be selling $5 Beermosas which is a mix of Champagne, OJ and our Blood Orange Berliner Weiss, the sour beer and the champagne work great together and is a little something different that most breweries can’t sell.
Who at your brewery has the best “brewery beard”?
Our Head Brewer Dave Wiessner without a doubt.
What’s your brewery anthem or motto?
Fresh Beer you can only find here – or – From Grain to Glass
What is the beer that you’ve brewed that you’re the most proud and why?
Our barrel aged sours are really coming together nicely after more than 2 years in used wine barrels, so much great complexity that can only be achieved from years of aging.
What has been the most surprising thing about running a brewery?
People are funny, staff and customers all have very strong opinions about what they like and don’t like, yet when I convince someone who thinks they hate sour beers, for example, to try one of our sours they usually end up loving it. Always expand your pallet, even if you think you don’t like something give it a try, you never know.
What’s on the horizon for your brewery?
Just keep making great fresh beer, and serve it all in-house where it can be enjoyed as fresh as possible.
If your brewery was a celebrity, who would they be?
Fill in the blank: We decided to open this brewery because _________________ .
We like fresh beer.
What’s a fun fact about your head brewer?
He really loves grainy pilsners.
Not only do you all have a great beer line-up, but also a wonderful food menu. What’s your favorite thing to eat off your menu and why?
The Birch’s Burger without question is my favorite. It is easily one of the top 5 best burgers in the Twin Cities, right up there with Parlour.
Does your brewery have a mascot? If so, tell us more.
The Birch Tree, which we use as decoration all over the place at both locations.
Most interesting beer flavor you’ve created to date?
Salted Caramel Quadrupel or our Wild Rice Old ale both worked out great.
What is your favorite beer that is not your own?
Surly Coffee Bender is always my go to non Birch’s Beer.
When you’re not at your own brewery, what’s some of your other favorite places to grab a drink or food around the Twin Cities?
Parlour, Surly, 6smith, Saint Dinette, Fair State, Venn Brewing, Wild Mind.
Tell us a bit about your brewing system. How big is it, where did come from, anything else fun to share?
10bbl brewhouse with 3 10 bbl fermenters and 3 20 bbl ferementers, and 8 10bbl serving tanks. All beer in Lowertown is made right there (only the brewhouse is visible upstairs, but the rest is visible if you head downstairs) and served directly to your glass from the brewery tanks, we hardly ever use kegs.
What special events do you have at your brewery throughout the week?
Trivia every Tuesday.
Can you share with us some “fun facts” about your brewery that we wouldn’t know from just sitting there?
We always have great sour beers, We only sell in house to make sure the beer is as fresh as possible. We have an awesome speakeasy piano bar in our lower level that is only open Friday and Saturday nights.
What else do you want to share?
Come check out our brewery, our beer and our food. I’m sure you will want to come back.