Thursday night I got a chance to sample the latest new brewery in downtown Saint Paul, Barrel Theory Beer Company. This is a new brewery that went in next to the restaurant Dark Horse, which opened last year. If you’re from around the Twin Cities and know where the Gopher Bar is, that’s where Barrel Theory is.
They took their time and put together a really nice space in a building that was most likely turn of the century. There’s lots of nice brickwork and their decorations fit with the setting really well. Items like hanging table lights made with metal pipe, and bulbs that are shaped like old bulbs, help to give the entire place a solid vibe. Yet, the space still feels modern.
I was meeting a friend there after work, and as I was waiting I ordered a bunch of 4oz samples of 4 out of 5 of their beers. Currently, they have two IPAs, one east coast and one west coast, on tap. I had a lot of fun doing the side by side of the two and seeing the difference. The west coast IPA was pretty true to style, but I felt like the east coast one lacked a bit of the hop character that defines an IPA. East coast IPAs aren’t supposed to be super hoppy, but this felt more like a blonde or golden ale.
The next one I sampled was their berry berliner weisse. This was an easy drinking 4% ale, with boysenberry, kettle soured. It was a tasty brew, but the fruit puree was way too strong, so it ended up feeling like I was simply drinking fruit juice, and not a beer. I like the flavor, but felt that it wasn’t quite balanced between the beer and fruit flavors.
The final one that I tried, and one that I got a second helping of, was their coffee stout. This was a really nice, smooth stout, with a slight hint of coffee flavor. I could have gone for a little bit more of the coffee aroma, but it was a tasty beer. The overall stout profile was nice, with a hint of roast, but smoothed over by a lot of oats. It was a slight bit stronger, ABV wise, than I usually prefer, but overall a solid beer.
I’m excited for all the new breweries that are coming to downtown Saint Paul. Barrel Theory has a great environment, with solid beer, and I could see making it a regular destination for some after work refreshment.