The last time I visited Faribault was 2002 for a wedding. It was shortly after graduating college. I had no idea what craft beer was and neither did Faribault according to the tap-list where I was pregaming for the reception. My seething hatred for the “Chicken Dance” was in its infancy and I was content and copasetic to be drinking bottles of Mich Golden Light to prep the Medillín Sound Machine (one of my many nicknames at the time) to get out on the dance floor.
Residents of Faribault, which boasts a rich history of cheesemaking and woolen mills, have a front-row seat to a brewery that is definitely making a name for itself when it comes to quality and flavor. It seems only natural that a brewery would fit into the historic tapestry of crafting.
The drive down to F-Town Brewing Company from the Twin Cities goes by quickly and I am kicking myself for not getting down here sooner. Although I have enjoyed F-Town beers at festivals before, this is my first time getting down to the brewery itself.
To me, F-Town’s mainstays are decent beers. Out of the four flagships (IPA, American Brown Ale, Faribo Lager, and American Red Ale) I prefer the American Brown Ale the best. However, thei r recent seasonal beers are a sign of F-Towns growth and maturity. Their Imperial Maple Stout and Mocha Stout stick out to me as fantastic examples of what happens when Chris (Owner and Head Brewer), Travis (Owner), and Noah (Owner) want to flex their creative brewing muscles.
Today, I am trying two new year-round offerings: Be Here Now Golden Ale and Moon Boots Peanut Butter Porter. These beers are evidence of two rapidly growing beer trends: sessionable, clean ales and Peanut Butter Porters. For the latter, I am incredibly excited because I love Peanut Butter Porters. I know these beers are not for everyone, but I know that I cannot get enough of them. The former is a Golden Ale and I have found those to be more of a mixed bag for me. Sometimes, they are crisp and clean and definitely showcase flavors in a completely coherent manner. However, more often than not, I find that they miss the mark and leave me disappointed. Both of these offerings are available in 4-pack 16 oz. cans and on draft at your favorite watering hole.
Be Here Now Golden Ale
This is the first of two new year-round beers hitting liquor store shelves and taplines. A nice 5% ABV beer that has an approachable 35 IBUs. Be Here Now combines Citra, Mosaic, Simcoe, and Warrior hops to create wonderfully floral, grassy, and slightly fruity aromas. My advice to drinkers is to let it warm up a bit if you really want the hoppy flavors to develop. It is my first beer after a long day, and I drink the first glass quickly while it is pretty cold. I let the second glass warm for a bit and that really awakens the hops in the flavor and aroma. The beer is crisp and probably best enjoyed on their patio while the sun is shining.
The idea behind the name is that when you drink this, leave your phone in your pocket and be present in the conversation. This is something I think we need more of when we gather for a beer. Untappd can wait til someone leaves to go to the bathroom. The whole point of getting together for a beer is to spend quality time with friends or family. You can harvest your Farmville crops later, the conversation is happening now.
Moon Boots Peanut Butter Porter
When it comes to the essence of peanut butter in my beer, I cannot get enough. Locally, Waconia Brewing Company is at the head of the class for me, but Dangerous Man’s is also stellar. From outside of MN, the best option available on liquor store shelves that is Long Route from Empyrean Brewing out of Nebraska. Moon Boots is the first MN Peanut Butter Porter that will be available in liquor stores.
Now, let me tell you why this beer needs to be in your beer fridge. Moon Boots is an easy drinking beer at 5.1% ABV and 24 IBUs. The aroma of this beer is absolutely like you have your head stuck in a jar of really good peanut butter. I am not talking Jif, I am talking a really good natural peanut butter. The roasty richness will make your salivary glands start pumping and get your stomach growling. The mouthfeel is creamy and robust. This is not a thin beer and has a deceptive amount of carbonation it it to give it a velvety smoothness.
What sticks out to me about this beer is that it is a great balance between the roasty aroma and the sweetness of the chocolate in the beer. Perhaps the best part about this beer is that is clocks in at 5.1% ABV and 24 IBU. This allows you to enjoy more than one at happy hour and still get home safe.
You might be asking yourself, why Moon Boots? What is the significance of this iconic winter apparel from the 1980’s? Well, F-Town was told by distributors that they should just name the beer after the style. However, Chris, Travis, and Noah joked that they should just call it something random like Moon Boots. Thus, a new beer name was born. I think that it is kind of funny.
Both the Be Here Now and Moon Boots will be available in 4-packs of 16 oz. cans. They will also be available on tap at your favorite watering hole. If they aren’t simply ask the barkeep to put a call in to get them on the taplines.
Special Beers Not on the Menu
After tasting the new year-round beers, Chris asked if we wanted to try some special beers that they are experimenting with. Again, you do not look a gift horse in the mouth. He brought out some tasters that were as dark as a Dennis Leary diary entry. It was the Imperial Maple Stout that had spent a decent amount of time in a cherry bourbon barrel. This beer is sublime. Imagine everything you love about barrel aged stouts and this beer is your jam.
Just when I think the off-the-menu portion of the sampling cannot get any better, they bring out a saison that aged in a Chardonnay barrel. Dryness from the Chardonnay grape skin along with the buttery hint of chardonnay goes really well with the base beer. The barrel adds woody complexity (another nickname from my youth) to the beer and makes it a divine drinking experience.
Why am I telling you about beers that you cannot buy in the store? I am trying to show why F-Town is worth the trip. Sure, they have their mainstays, however, they also have a dazzling array of wonderful beers on tap that you cannot get anywhere else. F-Town has matured greatly in the last year and I only see good things for them on the horizon.
Talking beer with Chris is telling about how serious he is about quality and not taking short-cuts in brewing. He sources quality ingredients and is not afraid to go the extra mile if it means he can wow people. With new breweries opening up soon in Northfield, F-Town hopes that people will decide to make a day of beer drinking and lump them into the itinerary of a beer-centric day trip.
After a tour of the facility, it was time to head for home. After a few hours of great conversation and beer tasting, I had a great feeling about F-Town. Their taproom is a hidden gem so add it to your list of places to visit; you won’t be sorry!
F-Town Brewing Company is located at 22 4th St. NE, Faribault, MN 55021.
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