Known for Belgian-style beers, Boom Island hosting a Chinese New Year celebration might seem like your Irish Catholic grandmother suddenly dabbling in Shabbat dinners. But in fact, Boom Island does have Chinese roots, and they go much deeper than an excuse to party.
The Minneapolis brewery is owned by Kevin and Qiuxia (Choo-Sha) Welch. Qiuxia’s parents, who live in Chengdu, China and don't speak more than a few words of English, helped get the brewery off the ground.
So a Belgian-style American brewery in Minnesota celebrating the Chinese New Year? You bet.
“Isn’t that wonderful?” Qiuxia says. “That’s what we represent. It’s straight to my heart, it’s my tradition,” she says, preparing for Saturday’s celebration. In China, she says, the New Year is a big deal — like “every festival and holiday combined in this country plus more."
Minnesota tends to be a little more laid back, and she misses that level of excitement. “Who doesn’t love Chinese food and good beer and having friends together? I don’t think there’s any boundaries and borders on that,” she says. (Unfortunately, there aren't any Chinese food trucks operating right now, so they're ratcheting up the multiculturalism by having a Cajun food truck.)
To bring the Chinese New Year to fruition in north Minneapolis, Boom Island's taproom will have a traditional Lion Dance at 4 p.m., fortune cookies and tea available, and a modified version of China’s red envelope tradition. In China, Qiuxia explains, the elders would present youth with red envelopes (often containing small gifts) as a token of good luck. Boom Island’s version will be brewery-sponsored, with patrons sharing their well wishes on a wall in the taproom and getting a red envelope from Boom Island in return.
And there will be beer, of course.
Boom Island will be pouring a special tarragon-infused beer for the occasion. Tarragon Witness is a modified version of their witbier that gives an herbal flourish to their Belgian-themed lineup.
Why tarragon? Because the beer has to be good, Qiuxia says. Of course Boom Island will put a unique stamp on the Chinese-Belgian-American celebration, but only in a way that makes sense. “We’re not going to throw some green onions, garlic, and ginger into a beer even though those are the most important spices and herbs in Chinese cooking,” she laughs. “We’re not going that far.”
If you go:
Boom Island Brewing Company
2014 Washington Ave. N., Minneapolis
Saturday February 6
All ages, free
Visit Boom Island’s blog for more information about the Chinese New Year.