We pulled off Highway 169 and descended into the Minnesota River Valley. I’m always surprised that the landscape changes so dramatically from the pastoral scenery of the surrounding area. Our windows were down to enjoy the warm summer air and after a small bend in the road our destination emerged from the forest. u4ic Brewing was now in sight.
The taproom and brewery are located in an unassuming industrial cement block building. We drove past patrons enjoying their beers and pulled past the food truck to their large gravel parking lot on the side of the building. A bright red door beckoned us. As we entered I was pleased to see a large room with plentiful seating and some overflow located right at the foot of their brewing equipment.
I’d heard two things about u4ic from friends and family that had visited. The first was that they have a plethora of beers on tap and the second was that the beer was great. We walked across their red concrete floor towards the small bar at the back of the taproom. With twenty beers on tap and some capacity for more I knew the first item was true, but I’d have to test the second one for myself. You’re able to order flights of any size, and my wife determined six was the right number while I settled for four.
Flights in hand we began looking for a seat to accommodate our friends. A relatively large group was anticipated and we had the pick of taproom. We ultimately settled on a picnic table near the screen door and dove into our flights. Two of our friends arrived shortly after and we were informed that another couple would be bringing a dog. Next thing I knew I was shielding my eyes, sweating, and begging the sun to dip below the building. That’s one way to work up a thirst!
As Samantha described to a couple of locals how the flights of beer worked (they were there for the gyros), I jotted notes on my flight. The four beers were the Grass Skirt Hawaiian Style Ale, Summerine Berlinerweiss, Cat Fish’n American IPA, and Hoof & Horn Bock. You can definitely see why they need so many taps, these guys seem like they are trying to brew one of every style! Grass Skirt had the chance to be gimmicky or gross, but the result was actually quite good. It had a great coconut aroma and flavor with a dash of hops to curb the sweetness. Samantha described it as “a vacation in a glass.” The standout was the Summerine Berlinerweiss. It was infused with almond which gave it an extremely sweet flavor that brought my mind back to my first foray into cocktails: the humble amaretto sour. It’s probably for the best that I only had a couple of ounces, but it was tasty nonetheless.
More friends arrived as the night wore on. The sun finally set behind the building to provide a little relief from the heat. We chatted and laughed while beer after beer was retrieved from the taproom. We were uniquely situated to see every person enter. It only takes a couple minutes of people watching to realize you’re not in Northeast at a trendy new brewery. Overalls and blue jeans were the norm here rather than the exception.
This is a working man’s brewery and that’s the way it needs to be in an area like Blakeley. With the caliber of beer at u4ic Brewing they will live and die by the patronage of their locals. There is a heavy German influence but they’ve got all manner of styles. When I say there is something for anyone it’s no lie. I counted at least three lagers, and then the tap list gave way to Cream Ales, Amber Ales, Pale Ales, IPAs, Porters, and Stouts. If you want a Tripel or an Imperial Stout they’ve got that too. Your entire craft beer journey could take place through the changing seasons at u4ic. I can picture myself braving the dead of winter to see what’s in store.