Flipping through my Instagram feed on a late March day I happened upon a post from Wild Mind Artisan Ales. It described their first bottle release event for their Golden Ho/rye/zon American Wild Ale. I made a mental note but promptly forgot about it. The day of the event I was grumbling at work about being cooped up during the unseasonably warm weather and searching for any excuse to get outside. Just like that the event popped back into my head and, after a quick call to my wife, we were off.
I’ve had my eye on Wild Mind since they opened late last summer. Unfortunately, due to our Northern Ale Guide quest, we weren’t able to find the time to visit while the weather was nice. The patio area looked so tempting that I was holding off for our first visit, and it just so happened that the sun was out and temperature was in the 60s that day. The stars were aligned. They opened at 4pm and we arrived a little after. I wasn’t expecting a jam packed taproom for this event, but I was still surprised at the amount of people sitting and enjoying a beer flanked by their freshly purchased bottles.
We snuck onto the end of a table with some other patrons on it, the sun warming our faces. I always get to a point in February or March where I wonder why we live in Minnesota, and I remarked to Samantha that it’s days like these that make me forget the winter. The guys next to us noticed I was taking some notes and after a short inquiry we began talking about, what else, craft beer. Their names were Shawn and Jason and after a bit of discussion I learned that Shawn runs the Beer Genome Project with his friend Mike. I’m not sure how active they are, but there is a post about his visit to Wild Mind if you want to learn a little more.
My first beer was Northern Bloom. It’s a Wild Pale Ale brewed with native yeast that also ends up being quite delicious. I’ve returned for this beer since that visit and I’m not sure I can go back without getting at least a taste of it. It’s hazy light yellow, with notes of stone fruit and light citrus. Highly recommended! While talking to one of my wife’s friends and waiting for our brother in-law to join us I ordered a couple of other beers. By the end of the night I would end up trying Sol (Wild IPA), Kiwi Pils (Pilsner), Saint Edward (Dark Farmhouse Ale). I can really say that each was brewed very well and all were satisfying. Sol was an interesting case because my wife enjoyed it and would end up getting it at our next visit. She doesn’t like IPAs, so this is some rare praise.
As the sun dropped below the horizon I cursed my past choices. My short sleeves had failed me and we had to retreat into the taproom to wait for our pie from Pizza Luce to be delivered. The dark side of unseasonably warm winter weather. It did give me a chance to get a closer look at the rest of the taproom. The building itself combined with the business next door makes a natural grassed courtyard. A short strip outside the glass garage doors is reserved for picnic tables, and on warm days you’ll see dogs and children enjoying the weather with their owners and parents. Breweries are generally pet and family friendly but Wild Mind seems to take it to the next level. For our first visit it seemed like there was a dog for every couple of humans, and our second visit it seemed like the kids had us outnumbered! As you approach the bar you are presented with fantastically designed taps: color coded to match the handouts and bringing a huge splash of color to what would otherwise be just grey and brown environment.
On the way to the bathroom be sure to take a gander at their excellent mural featuring a tree growing from the W and the same wonderful splashes of color dripping from the M that are featured on their taps. You’ll also get a chance to gaze at their large wooden foeders. This is where Wild Mind’s magic happens, and the beers you are enjoying may have fermented in those barrels from six months to over a year. Combine the foeders with wild yeast strains (harvested by founder Mat Waddell) and the use of a coolship (an alternative method for cooling wort) and you get a recipe for some real adventure in beer styles. I can’t wait to see what these guys come up with! If you’re interested in reading more about their operation I recommend reading some excellent articles from The Growler and MSP Magazine.
I really loved Wild Mind Artisan Ales, and since this our first visit we’ve been back a couple of times and we plan to visit more throughout the year. It helps that they are one of the closest breweries to our home, and hopefully when it warms up we’ll be climbing on the bikes to make an afternoon of it. Their beer was excellent, and I really love the wild styles that they are brewing. The slightly off the beaten path location lends itself to a much more chill atmosphere, and their patio will be perfect for the hot summer days ahead.