Since I began this hobby taprooms have become a regular meeting spot for my in-laws. Almost everyone enjoys craft beer and we’re constantly checking out new places and bringing new beer to our get togethers for everyone to taste. When my brother in-law told us he was moving to Utah he wanted to get together one last time at a local brewery, Prior Lake’s Boathouse Brothers Brewing Company.
I’m from New Prague, a small town south of the Twin Cities. Whenever a brewery opens in the area it’s easy to find a friend or two to visit. That’s why I’ve written about Montgomery, Giesenbräu, u4ic, Tanzenwald, Imminent, Chapel, Mankato, Badger Hill, Nutmeg, Lakeville, Angry Inch, and F-Town. I had heard a couple of reports about Boathouse Brothers when they opened in April of 2018, but I generally like to give a brewery some time to settle before stopping in. Our visit came almost a year from their grand opening which I think is the mark to hit before you can make a judgement on the quality of their beer and overall taproom experience.
My wife and I met in Prior Lake while working as seasonal employees for the city’s parks department. I spent over four years driving around and a lot of time downtown near Lakefront, their cornerstone park. Boathouse Brothers is located right down the road, centrally located between Upper and Lower Prior Lake. I made a note as we entered that the temperature was in the high 40s, something only a Minnesotan would be excited about at the beginning of Spring.
If their name wasn’t indication enough Boathouse Brothers has a nautical theme. They have pontoon seating, boat seats at high tops, bobbers on the tap list, and floating keychains for their tap handles. Their website states that they are aiming to “experience summer all year long” and the decor paired with the bright blue walls and laid back atmosphere does just that. There are three main seating areas: the top level containing the bar, middle area with the pontoon and boat seating, and a large airy room. That area contained community tables, brewing equipment, a cornhole set, glass garage door, and one long rail that snaked along three sides of the room. My in-laws had taken a seat in that room and while my grandma was pulling our daughter out of her carseat my wife and I approached the bar to put in an order.
With 13 beers (out of 16 taps) available during our visit it was a struggle to select six for my flight. It should come as no surprise that the tap board was shaped like a propeller! It’s always interesting to see how breweries serve their flights and this was one was up there in the uniqueness category. Most of the beers on the tap list were pretty standard varieties which is actually a bit refreshing after visiting breweries in the metro area that are full of hazy IPAs, pastry stouts, and barrel aged or imperial varieties. Sometimes I just want a regular beer. The ones I chose were the Snapped Line English Dark Ale, Thermocline Cream Ale, Fat Mint Porter, CTZ IPA, Percussive IPA, and Impersonator Doppelbock.
I always ask what the bartender recommends. They always tell me it depends what I like. I always respond that I like everything. Then they generally recommend one of their IPAs. That discussion went exactly as expected but this was the first time someone recommended a SMaSH (Single Malt and Single Hop) IPA. Turns out that CTZ IPA was their first SMaSH beer and it ended up being, well, a smash hit! I don’t typically see CTZ in SMaSH beers but I really enjoyed this one. It was piney and resinous with a dry finish and a clean hop aroma. My favorite beer though was the Impersonator. I’m on the tail end of a malt kick so this was the perfect beer for me. Rich and malty, lightly toasted, with a hint of chocolate.
During our visit, Emmett, the owner and head brewer came out to ask us how the beer was tasting and to see if he could answer any of our questions. I’ve been to a lot of breweries and this was a first! On our way out we had a chat about what I thought about the beers and whether they were hitting the mark. Honestly, there wasn’t much to say because for the most part each beer that I tried was brewed well and seemed to hit the guidelines for their style. It’s refreshing to see a brewer focused on quality and willing to listen to their patrons thoughts about the end product. If that attitude continues I see Boathouse Brothers being around for quite some time!