Thursday was bound to be an interesting day. I was back in Minneapolis for my first double-header of the tour... I was playing an early show at one brewery, and then a late show a few blocks away at another. That's six hours of music with only about a 45 minute break between the two. Normally I would be somewhat concerned that my hands might cramp, but this time I was a little more concerned about the fact that my voice had been giving me some problems just a few days earlier. That said, I had since had two nights off, and things went smoothly Wednesday in Rochester.
The first gig of the night was at Finnegans Brew Co, which is in downtown Minneapolis just a stone's throw from the stadium. In fact on this night the Twins were back in town for their first game after a long road trip.
As a brewery, Finnegans has been around for something like 20 years, but they only opened a tap room within the last year or so, and man did they do it right! Their location is grade A, and the whole place is just totally classy. The main taproom is rather long and on street level, with a formal stage area about just about in the middle of the room. A sizable beer garden is in the back, and brewing facilities occupy another part of the street level. Upstairs is a private area for private events and it looks like how I'd imagine a place like the Friar's Club to look... nooks with leather couches and fireplaces, other areas that look more like a board room, and a bar area surrounded by glass that reminded me of the Gravity Room at St. James Gate in Dublin.
Finnegans Brew Co. - Minneapolis, MN
Beer is available in the taproom, and some varieties are available in bottles and cans throughout Minnesota. Others are available on tap at drinking establishments and restaurants throughout the region. Finnegans gives all of their beer profits to fund community programs assisting those in poverty.
The thing that is really unique about Finnegans, though, is that profits from their beers go to a charitable non-profit cause called the Finnegans Fund that primarily feeds the hungry. The basic idea is combining local sourcing, support of local businesses, which then contribute to local food banks via funds and locally sourced produce and goods, which then go to feed local families. You can learn a lot more about this aspect of the brewery and fund at their website.
As I've mentioned recently, I travel with my own PA and generally prefer to use it for a variety of reasons. I walked into Finnegans to see where I should load in my gear, and saw they had not only a formal stage, but a sound system already set up... and much to my surprise not just one but two soundmen. This I liked, because the problem with a house PA is that often times it's either not working properly, or there isn't a soundman who knows how to run it... but this was a nice system and these guys were very familiar with both the system and the room... which meant I only needed to bring in my guitar and plug in and play and they'd take care of the rest. That's what happened, and it was trouble free all night... I had a great mix on stage, everyone said the house sounded great, and that was that.
Finnegans, as you can see in one of the photos below, is very much into barrel aging beers, and they had a nice variety of barrel aged beers on hand. Before sampling them, I first had a pint of their Irish Ale (4.75%) flagship amber ale. Orangey amber clear body with a light head, this drinks more like an Irish Ale than an “amber”, with flavors of malt, caramel, and bready grain flavors, and the aroma to match. A Medium to lighter body with light carbonation, this is definitely a sessionable beer, which is great as the proceeds go to the charity fund!
The other beer I had off the non-barrel list was the Tile Factory (7%) Mosaic IPA. A nice, fairly common IPA with the mosaic hops providing citrusy overtones with a little bit of bitter. If you like a reasonably hoppy IPA Tile Factory is a nice option, getting the most of the Mosaic hops without overpowering the beer with hops
Moving to the featured barrel-aged options, I started with the My Little Rose (7.7%) Saison brewed with hibiscus, rose pedals, orange peel, and aged in apple whiskey bottles. Fruity and bold, this one delivered pretty tart upfront, then hit you with a strange caramel and apple mix (I assume from the apple whiskey barrels). Effervescent orangish hue, a little fizzy, and then a nice dry finish. This was a rather complex and bold beer that I think might have been better to start with, as having it third really made the tartness stand out, and I wasn't really feeling it... but I do think it was because the order that I drank this one in.
I closed the night out with Biere de Noel (9%) dark Belgian ale, aged in Wisconsin apple brandy barrels. This one was back to form, quite delicious and bold but well balanced, with hints of the apple brandy without being at all overpowering
Finnegans was a great stop, right in the heart of the downtown area, so if you find yourself in Minneapolis for a game, concert, business meeting, or to visit the Prince Paisley home/studio/dance club (which is like Minnesota's own take on Graceland), stop by for a pint, enjoy the atmosphere, and take a tour of the facility.