Barrel Theory

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Saint Paul’s latest taproom to open is Barrel Theory Beer Company, but it’s clear the new brewery’s crew is far from wet behind the ears.

When I visited the impressive Lowertown taproom on a Saturday night, it was filled with happy patrons. The sight was promising, since the brewery opened just a few weeks prior.

Barrel Theory’s taproom manages to blend massive amounts of natural light from floor-to-ceiling windows with the warm glow of light bulbs reflecting off hardwood everything. A variety of seating options include the bar, booths, high-tops, and four-person tables. The effect is an intimate, yet expansive space to enjoy great beer.

You shouldn’t be surprised by the many noteworthy characteristics of Barrel Theory. Two of the co-founders come from Minnesota beer giant Surly. Their experiences clearly informed their taproom design, brewhouse technology, and impeccable taste for the finer aspects of good beer.

As suggested by the name, Barrel Theory is going to drop your jaw with some serious barrel-aged brews. Unfortunately, none were available on tap. Apparently making great beer takes time and patience, of which I have none. I was compensated with a lineup of four fantastic beers.

  • Rain Drops – 7.5% Northeast Style IPA, dry hopped with Citra and Mosaic
  • Drop Tops (oh, yes they did) – 6% West Coast Style IPA with Amarillo, Columbus, and Simcoe
  • Raining 3s – 9% Double IPA, triple dry hopped with Citra, Mosaic, and Vic
  • Java Oats – 6% Coffee Stout with locally roasted Bootstrap Guatemalan coffee beans

Can I just get an IV of them all?

When I spoke to co-founder Brett Splinter (minor fangirl moment), he was in the middle of bussing glasses and leading alongside the bar staff. He advised me, “Good beer isn’t worth a shit unless you have good people to drink it with.” Splinter said something similar in his interview with The Growler, leading me to assume it’s a sentiment he’s truly internalized.

Well, Brett (if I may be so familiar), I couldn’t agree with you more. I’ve been to my fair share of Minnesota taprooms, and this is a lesson my journeys taught me. The people I bring with me—and those I meet at the brewery—completely shape my experience of the beer. It’s foolish to assume beer can be drunk in a vacuum; it’s an inherently social beverage. The best way to enjoy it is bringing great people and top-notch brews together, which is exactly what Barrel Theory is doing.

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