On April 1st last year Pour Decisions Brewing Company came out. The timing and tone of the announcement led many to believe it was some elaborate beer-geek hoax. There were no names given in the communiqué. Who were these guys? Where did they come from? These unanswered questions sent many off on sleuthing missions, checking addresses on Google Maps and looking up corporate registrations on the state website.
Turned out Pour Decisions wasn’t a hoax. It was a real brewery-to-be, spearheaded by homebrewers extraordinaire Kristen England and B.J. Haun. An article on Heavy Table followed soon after the announcement. Given the reputation of the brewers (both good and bad) the air was thick with anticipation. A couple more blog posts appeared on the Pour Decisions website and then………..silence.
In the intervening 11 months precious little has been heard from Pour Decisions, but they are still out there and moving toward finally opening the taps. I recently chatted with Kristen England at the brewery and got a status report.
On the afternoon of my visit the brewery was a construction zone as finishing touches were being put on the tap room, which should be finished by the time this posts. According to England, the plumbing and electric are all in place. The only thing remaining is to re-assemble the boiler. They are waiting on the proper contractor to complete that task. Once that is done, they should be ready to make beer. England refused, however, to be pinned down on a date. Things happen and that kind of speculation hasn’t worked out so well for them in the past.
So what has been the delay? England cited contractor delays and issues with city inspections. Problems with the contractors hired to install the plumbing and such has been a major source of frustration. Work was promised, partially paid for, and then never delivered. One contractor reportedly even went after Haun with a wrench (or was it a hammer?).
Part of the hold-up around inspections came from unforeseen code requirements. For instance, even though the taproom is only separated from the brewery by a four-foot half-wall, the space requires a separate HVAC system. And then there were the panels. The brewhouse is run from a plug-and-play control panel. In Minnesota all “panels” have to be inspected before they can be used. The keg washer/filler also had a panel that had to be inspected. Costs and delays.
Another problem was the lack of inspectors in Roseville where the brewery is located. If you open a brewery in Minneapolis or St. Paul, they have several inspectors who tend to the business of checking things out. In Roseville there is only one. Says England, “It takes a while. It’s not his fault; he’s got a lot to do.”
Once up and running they plan to launch with two beers. Patersbier is described as “a crisp, Monk’s Golden Ale.” It will come in around 6% and have a good amount of bitterness and hop character. Pubstitute is a dark Scottish session ale listed on the website at 2.8% ABV. England says they are going to bump that up just a bit to around 3.2%. By keeping it that low they not only stay true to style, but also create a beer that can be sold in the grocery store. Don’t fret the low ABV. English session ales have full-flavor and mouthfeel despite their diminutive strength; tastes great and less filling.
England has been involved in beer-historical research with British beer blogger Ronald Pattinson of the Shut Up About Barclay Perkins blog (a great blog if you’re into that sort of thing). Pattinson has been digging into the archives of Britain’s great breweries to discover what beers they were making and how they were making them. England has been translating that research into brewable recipes. Although he doesn’t want to be known as “the guy that makes historical beer,” this research will be a big influence in the beers that Pour Decisions makes. “Everything now has been done before.” says England. “People don’t think so, but everything has been done before. So when we come out with a double IPA it’s going to have English ingredients. It’s going to have all low-alpha hops. Our stouts will be historical stouts using brown malt and amber malt. We’ll use lots of invert sugar. When you taste it you’ll understand the concept. It’s going to be very similar to what you’ve had before, but not like anything you’ve had before. Our beers will be things that you can wrap your head around but different from what you know.”
Expect Pour Decisions to have beer on the street soon. What does soon mean exactly? I can’t say. If I were to wager a guess I’d say this time it’s a matter of weeks rather than months. But things do happen. Only time will tell.