Tucked away in a nondescript industrial park in Minnetonka, another new entry into the Minnesota brewery boom is taking shape. A tangle of stainless steel pipes--a shiny metal puzzle really--is gradually being transformed into the connections that will carry beer from one vessel to another in a brand-new 15-barrel brewhouse. The fragrant warehouse space that once housed a spice factory is now the home of Lucid Brewing. With a stated mission of fostering excellence in drinking through clarity of thinking, the upstart brewery hopes to have beer on the streets by October.
Lucid's partners in beer, Eric Bierman and Jon Messier, describe themselves as hardcore beer geeks. They have been active in the thriving Twin Cities homebrewing scene for years, each winning multiple medals for their home-crafted suds. Bierman has been developing Lucid for a couple of years with his wife, Alyssa Dwyer. Life's realities--full-time jobs and the birth of a baby--made that process a slow one.
In July last year Bierman completed training at the American Brewers Guild. Soon after, he was joined by Messier, who had a lead on an available space. Working together, they are moving ahead to make the dream a reality. Both have left their nonbrewing jobs and devoted themselves full time to building the brewery.
The pair aims to craft a range of beers that will appeal to the palates of beer nerds and newbies alike. I sampled some pilot batches and found them to be consistently crisp, balanced, and easy to drink, even the hi-test brews.
Air, a light and very refreshing wheat beer, should have broad appeal. The version I tasted was hopped with Citra hops, giving it lively key lime and mango flavors. Unfortunately Citra hops are in very short supply. Bierman and Messier are now testing replacements.
A nutty/toasty English brown ale is being brewed exclusively for the Blue Plate restaurant group, which includes the Longfellow Grill and the Groveland Tap among others. Well attenuated with sharp but moderate bitterness, it manages to be malty without being sweet.
A double IPA being tested by the duo shows the same balance and crispness. Made with something like five different hops, it is bitter without being biting. The malt is enough to support the hops but avoids being syrupy like some other big IPAs. It's 9 percent alcohol, but it drinks like 7 percent.
A big imperial red ale that will be a seasonal release resembles the amber ales found on the west coast. It's malt-forward with luscious caramel and hints of roast, but the ample hops won't let you forget they are there. Like the other beers it finishes dry and clean, leaving the impression that it is lighter than it really is.