As we near the end of the 2018 year, we live amongst an embarrassment of riches when it comes to taproom options in Minnesota. At the original epicenter of the Minnesota craft beer boom, a list of Northeast Minneapolis breweries reads like a Rick Bayless molé recipe. Is it possible for a new brewery to exist and stand out from the rest in this pool that seems to be ever-shrinking? If Broken Clock Brewing Cooperative has a say, the answer is “Yes!”

Broken Clock Brewing Cooperative

Broken Clock Brewing Cooperative is fostering a robust craft beer community with their constantly growing membership. They also brew fantastic beers to keep their members from going thirsty.

The Broken Clock Brewing Cooperative has a membership of just over 700 members. That list grows each day as more people discover the unique community and diverse beer offerings that Broken Clock has. The taproom space has been open a little over a month and a half. However, they have been brewing out of this location for several years.

The Taproom

There is some good beer mojo in the space because the address has been home to two other craft breweries over the years. 56 Brewing and NorthGate Brewing both started there before moving into bigger facilities. Broken Clock started there and decided to expand at that location. The result of that choice is a spacious and open place to enjoy multiple types of seating along with a nice lineup of craft beer.

One of the great things about the taproom is the designated children’s play area. It is surrounded by a bar top so that parents can either watch their kids play in the enclosed area or sit nearby on the picnic tables. To me, if you are going to let kids in your taproom, you need to have a designated play area. Most of the parents that bring their kids to taprooms are watchful and keep them civil. However, there are also those few parents who let their kids run wild and behave like idiots while they sit obliviously sipping their beers.

Another awesome thing about the Broken Clock Brewing Cooperative taproom is all the unique touches that showcase the talents of their members. For instance, all the tables are built by a member who specializes in woodworking. The tops are all unique and that adds a fun touch to the taproom. There is also a mural on the wall behind the music stage that spells out “A Beer Revolution” with all the names of the members.

There is always a great mix of people at Broken Clock. Their furry four-legged best friends are also welcome. So, if the thrill of having your leg humped by a pooch gets you going, Broken Clock is the place for you.

I also appreciate the different types of seating in the taproom. There are bar stools if you like to belly up. There are communal picnic tables if you want to be non-Minnesotan and sit among strangers and make new friends. They also have low-top and high-top tables. Perhaps the most unique thing that they have is a lower height section of the bar that is perfect for someone in a wheelchair. This may seem like a no-brainer, but very few breweries that I have been have this amenity.

So, What is a Brewing Cooperative?

The only other brewing cooperative in town is Fair State Brewing Cooperative. I am sure you are familiar with them and have been to their taproom to see all the pictures of their members up on the wall. The Broken Clock Brewing Cooperative functions in much the same way for its members. They have two levels of membership, a regular member and a Brewer membership.

When you become a member ($200 single or $300 joint membership), you get to have a say in how the business is run. All members can attend board meetings. Members have voting privileges and can even run to be on the board of directors. Broken Clock members earn dividends, get free beer, and always get 10% off of beer and merchandise.

If you get a Brewer membership ($350 single and $500 joint membership) you get all the basic membership benefits plus the opportunity to join the brewers in monthly round table discussions to design upcoming pilot batches and joining brewers on select brew days to brew pilot or big batches of beer. This is definitely a great perk for the homebrewer looking to expand their skill set.

I visited on December 20th after Tom Peets got in touch with me on social media about stopping by. When I got to the brewery, he was helping some people collect their trivia prize growlers and merch from a previous trivia night. Tom definitely looks the part of a “beer guy” with his longer hair and classic beard. His persona is also one that is warm and friendly, another hallmark of a successful craft beer lead sales rep.

Tom gave me the tour of the facility and then set me up with a couple flights of their beers. What stuck out to me about Tom was how much pride he has for representing the Broken Clock brand. He kept pointing out the different little things that gives Broken Clock an identity. He seemed to know everyone in the taproom which tells me that he is connected to their community.

Beer Time

Of course, a brewery could have the best staff, coolest aesthetics, and funkiest merchandise around, but if their beer is sub-par, they won’t last long. So, it is time to talk turkey. Tom poured me their beers and gave me a little info on each one and I began tasting.

The Kölsch was a nice starter and reminded me of the warmer days of summer. It drank crisp and clean with a dry finish. It was missing the touch of honey that usually comes along with this style, but that did not deter me from finishing it.

Next was the 2Brew, a coffee Kölsch. It had a fantastic and rich aroma of the Ethiopian cold press coffee from Tiny Footprint Coffee . While the Kölsch reminded me of summer, the 2Brew reminded me of the best part of a perfect morning. Despite its rich aroma, the coffee flavor is balanced and blends harmoniously with the bready malt flavor in the beer.

I thought that the Standup Stout lacked a bit in the body department. As I let it warm, the flavors and aromas powered up and it was a nice mix of chocolate, smoke, and toasted bread. On Nitro, the Standup Stout really shines as its body is buttressed by the creamy texture that the Nitro imparts to the beer.

The Law & Porter Ancho Chili Edition is definitely an English Porter and not the thicker American Porter that is more familiar. I like that the body is a little thinner because I think that it allows the dryness from the chili to make for an enticing sip.

The Pocket Watch Pecan Brown Ale is a delicate confection in a glass. Brown sugar and vanilla add sweetness and they tag in the pecan nuttiness for balance and an extra oomph. This is a special beer and one that sticks out in my mind as a more memorable brown ale available in this market. Far too often, I come across a brown ale that seems like it is there because the brewer thought they needed to have something malty that wasn’t a stout on the menu. When this happens, the half-assed nature of the beer is evident in aroma, flavor, and mouthfeel. Broken Clock has done this style proud with the Pocket Watch Pecan Brown Ale because of its complexity and drinkability.

The Minute Man NEIPA is a marvelous example of a style that garners so much hate from so many people. I think that the hate for NEIPAs stems from so many atrocious examples. I could do an entire blog post on local breweries who have bastardized this style, but I don’t want to have my garage set ablaze. Luckily, Broken Clock has the bright and juicy notes of Mosaic and Citra hops in this beer. The Minute Man has the mouthfeel that is representative of the style-and the hardest characteristic of this style to nail. It has a hop bite at the end to round it out and not leave it just a sweet, alchoholic glass of orange juice. I would drink this early and often and this beer belongs in the conversation with the successful hazy IPAs from Lupulin, Barrel Theory, and Forager.

The Red Coats is the Minute Man NEIPA with blood oranges. See above for why everyone should try this so that they can see what a great NEIPA tastes like.

The Summer Dreamin’ Milkshake IPA is another controversial style. If you want to cause a stir among beer geeks, just talk about this style. I will admit that I am in the skeptical camp when it comes to this style. I get what they are supposed to be and I like them, but only for about 10 ounces. Broken Clock has again caused me to check my bias at the lip of the glass and allow myself to be surprised.

The Summer Dreamin’ is magical. It transported me right back to July as I stood in line at Conny’s Creamy Cone pondering which of the 28 flavors of soft-serve to get. The vanilla sweetness from the lactose is pleasant and not at all cloying. I would drink more than just one pint of this and that is saying something.

The Lavender Uprising was not my jam because the lavender was just too much for me. Instead of a pleasant herbal note, all I got was soap. I am sure that if you are a fan of lavender, this will be good, but it is hard for me to get past that much lavender in my beer.

The RISé 2018 is a dark and dreamy stout. It boasts flavors of molasses, dark chocolate, and a little bit of coffee. It has tremendous body and a snifter of this will make even your most annoying friends talking politics palatable.

All in all, the Head Brewer Will Hubbard does a superb job of brewing beers that not only represent their respective styles well, but they also stand out with unique flavors and aromas. Broken Clock Brewing Cooperative co-founders, Jeremy Mathison and Jerome Gharineh are lucky to have a brewer who is so deft when it comes to balanced beers that appeal to everyone.

I thought that the beers at Broken Clock Brewing Cooperative were definitely worth the trip. However, the conversation that I had with Tom Peets is what really made my time at Broken Clock awesome. Tom gave me more time than I deserved and I was happy to get to know him better. Do yourself a favor the next time you are there and ask him to tell some hockey stories. You will not be disappointed and you will understand why Broken Clock Brewing Cooperative is a great place to belong. Prost!

Dan Beaubien has been involved with Beerploma since 2014 although his passion for craft beer dates back to 2006 when he started traveling for beer.  He mostly covers craft beer events, festivals, brewery openings/releases, and beer reviews. Dan has a soft spot in his heart for authentic British Style ales, IPAs, and all things barrel-aged.  If you have any questions or comments about this article feel free to email Dan at dan.beaubien@beerploma.com .