I remember the first time I tasted Finnegan’s Irish Amber. I was attending some kind of showcase event for community engaged entrepreneurs and it was the only beer available. My beer nerddom was still in development, but I believe I was a bit pretentious. I was underwhelmed. I was an idiot.
I had never heard of Finnegan’s. I didn’t know why they would be sponsoring this do-gooder showcase. I knew nothing of their mission. Now, of course, it all makes perfect sense.
For those who don’t know about Finnegan’s, their succinct mission statement says it all – “Turning beer into food.” In every market where their beer is sold, Finnegan’s devotes 100 percent of its profits to the task of feeding the hungry. You read that right. 100 percent. Their Community Fund buys produce from local farmers and donates it to food shelves. They have turned the food truck thing that is such a part of the taproom scene on its head with their “reverse food truck.” Rather than selling food, it takes donations of food. That’s community engaged entrepreneurship.
Finnegan’s beer is currently contract brewed at Summit Brewing Company. But Finnegan’s has big plans for a downtown Minneapolis “brewtel” – a combination hotel, brewery and retail development. The project will also include an event center and the so-called “Finnovation Lab,” which will serve as an incubator for new socially centered businesses. The mission continues.
The partnership with Summit has helped Finnegan’s expand its beer lineup in delicious directions. Under the guidance of Summit Head Brewer Damian McConn, Finnegan’s has released the delightful Finnegan’s Blond (now sadly discontinued) and the dusky Dead Irish Poet Extra Stout. Now they have added a new one to the list – Hoppy Shepherd. It’s described as “a lively session ale made from Admiral, Centennial, Citra and Jester hops.” Session is all the rage and we Minnesotans do love our hops.
Here’s my notes:
Finnegan’s, Minneapolis, Minnesota
Style: American Pale Ale
Serving Style: 12 oz. bottle
Aroma: Bright floral and grapefruit hops. Fresh and juicy. Minty. Apricot. Low grainy malt.
Appearance: Dark gold and brilliant. Full, fluffy, white head with excellent retention.
Flavor: Hop forward with low malt support. Malt has a toasted cereal character. Medium-low intensity. Low sweetness. Hop flavor is the driver – bright floral and citrus. Juicy grapefruit segments. Apricots. Bitterness is high. Very dry finish with lingering bitterness and toast.
Mouthfeel: Medium-light body. Medium-high carbonation.
Overall Impression: A delightfully easy to drink pale ale. I love the toasted malt supporting the bright hop character. Not terribly complex, but it’s a “session ale.” It’s not supposed to be terribly complex. Drink this one when you want your beer to be satisfying, but not intrusive.