Valkyrie Brewing Company is a small town brewery located in Dallas, WI. It is owned and operated by husband and wife team Randy and Ann Lee. Let me tell you, they are doing it right. I had the opportunity to tour the brewery, talk about beer with owners Randy and Ann, and of course try some beer!
This brewery, established in 1994, is a fairly small brewery. They crank beer out at a capacity of about 400-500 barrels divided among 15 or so different kinds of beer. What is even more impressive is that they have no employees! Randy and Ann do everything themselves.
Having a brewery in a small community is not without its challenges. For one, as Randy indicated, there is no natural gas available to the building. They are currently using propane, but Valkyrie has secured a grant to convert to using used biofuels to make their beers. That is pretty progressive for any brewery.
The newly remodeled taproom, dubbed Valhalla, is a great place to grab a beer. There is a really cool personalized cement bar, custom made themselves of course, and 11 beers on tap. Any Viking warrior would be glad to drink here while waiting for the final end of the world battle.
Valkyrie has a great philosophy about beer. Ann equates the flavors in beer to flavors in food. Everything has to come together perfectly and work together. Flavors should not overpower each other. In a sense, beer, like food, is an art form. That philosophy really rings true in their beers.
Speaking of beers, I tried a good variety of them at Valkyrie. All were good, but I would like to touch on two in particular that really impressed me; Blaze Orange and Hot Chocolate.
I will first say that I haven’t really found any spiced beers I have been too impressed with. It seems like most brewers’ just dump in an overwhelming amount of coriander or other spice. That taste distracts from the beer and usually ruins it for me. Blaze Orange broke that mold and made me a spiced beer believer!
Blaze Orange is a lager that is made with orange extract, cloves, cardamom, cinnamon, ginger, and white peppercorns. That sounds like a lot of spices, but the way they are used is perfect. Randy told me he made the base beer and then handed Ann, a great soup cook as Randy indicated, the spice catalog and basically told her to do her thing. The result is a great lager with a nice orange flavor and a spice flavor profile that is complex but overpowers nothing. This beer changed me from a guy who generally steers clear of spiced beers to a guy who will be drinking a lot of Blaze Orange!
The other beer I would like to touch on is Valkyrie’s Hot Chocolate. It is a chocolate stout brewed with fair trade cocoa and cayenne pepper. This beer was perfect. The carbonation was perfect. The chocolate flavors rang in the forefront. The actually taste of the cayenne wasn’t really there. But take a few sips and you start to feel a fun heat in the back of your throat. Again, great flavors used correctly. (Insider tip: Ann says this beer makes a great chili!)
My lasting impression is that I am now a big Valkyrie Brewing Company fan. They are doing things the way I wish other breweries would; use flavors to enhance, not overpower. The beers are inventive and fun without being gimmicky. The owners are great people making great beers. Randy and Ann have been doing it there way at Valkyrie for around 20 years, so they must be doing something right!