What makes us different is what makes us great
Immaculate fermentation meets Midwest Ingenuity.
Ours is a brewery with deep roots in time-honored fermentation processes. Processes that harness the bounty of the earth in a marriage of hard work, spontaneous brewing practices, and wild ingredients. Our brews are a mixture of science, nature and unbridled curiosity that draw from age-old techniques. Matthew “Mat” Waddell, our head brewer, recalled his family history as the spark that started his love of brewing, a Minnesota farm culture history that celebrated resourcefulness and innovation.
“I grew up hearing stories about how my grandparents ran the family farm, living off the land, fermenting whatever they could get their hands on. They lived in a modest, 1920’s Minnesota farmhouse and worked hard to transform what they grew into things that would sustain them through the seasons. My grandfather had his own still in the basement, and there were always buckets of farmhouse beer fermenting around the house. It’s a memory that inspired my fascination for wild based brewing to this day.”
What started as a curiosity, soon became a passion, and a mission of sorts, to create what Mat refers to as a “complex/creative” beer. On his 21st birthday Mat got his very first beer kit. It was right around then that he began to get interested in exploring the kind of spontaneous farmhouse-style brewing techniques that his grandfather used, to understand what that even meant, how it worked and where it originated. It was this kind of pioneering beer making zeal that gave life to Wild Mind Artisan Ales, an initial curiosity which eventually lead to the exploration of wild yeasts, traditional brewing techniques, and ingredients.
Our beer philosophy and mission.
Wild Mind Artisan Ales sprang from an aspiration to explore what known and to challenge what was possible in brewing. Our beer making techniques draw from a blend of historical traditions and modern experimentation. Most of our beers take anywhere from 3 months to 2 years to create. We never add laboratory cultured yeast to ferment our beer, we only use locally-sourced wild yeast in our beer making.
While we draw from centuries-old brewing traditions, we are not defined by them. We’ve merely adopted methods that the masters have used for hundreds of years, reimagining them and all the while continuing to innovate, grow our production and increase the quality of the beer the we put in to every barrel. We do things the hard way, never sacrificing anything that would detract from our quality to grow our production, or from the innovative spirit of our beers. As a result, we may not always be able to accommodate the demand for our product, which for us just fine. Our beers are not replicable. Every barrel is unique, which means you’ll always find a new experience each time you visit.
Our focus is primarily on old world traditional sour beers like Lambic style, Greuze, Grissett, and other farmhouse varieties in addition to more traditional selections. Our yeast and barrel aging process allows us to do this. We respectfully approach how we produce these variations, honoring their traditions but not being defined by them. Our differentiation is tied to our tradition, not anyone else’s. We’re merely evolving what beer masters have been doing forever, often in total obscurity, and are making it distinctively new, colorful and unique.
Unexpected flavors you won’t find anywhere else.
Many of the recipes we start off are fundamental in their approach. What sets us apart is our fermentation techniques, the wild yeasts we use and the quality of our ingredients. It’s this unique mix of methods that allow us to bring forward and cultivate unusual and unexpected beer flavors. Flavors that you won’t find anywhere else. We are utilizing old world methods of brewing that nobody in Minnesota is currently doing. We are creating styles of beer that very few (if any) local brewers are doing––hybrid brews that we have mostly made up––and every week we get to explore our creativity with the tools that we have, looking for new ways to manipulate it.
Our beers follow some “known” labels of classification as a starting point, but that’s where the similarities end. Almost every other brewer in Minnesota is doing a standard IPA, Pale Ale, etc., classification of beer, we are going outside of that grain in how we are approaching our beer-making. For example, we recently brewed a select batch of fresh hop beer with freshly picked hops, right from the vine. In literally less than 24 hours, those hops were in the beer and creating an entirely different kind of hop flavor that’s not as quickly classified, almost hybrid––this is the brewing sweet spot that we love to play in.
Old world. New world. A story in every glass.
We recently made a spontaneously-fermented farmhouse beer using an open “Coolship” method. A coolship is an open shallow metal vessel, usually made of copper or stainless steel, in which the cooling wort––the sugary liquid that ferments into beer––is naturally injected with ambient microorganisms picked up from the air.
Historically, coolships were used to cool down the heated wort that is created when hot water is run through the milled malted barley, wheat or other grains in environments where no refrigeration was available. It is centuries old in its origin and often risky, but affords drinkers an amazingly different beer experience. Currently, no other local breweries are brewing in this way. We see this kind of approach as a unique differentiator.
“Beer is a bit of a triangle: one point is rooted in the science of making it, another in the artistic side of making it, and at the top point, good old-fashioned hard work to bring everything together.” –– Matthew Waddell, Founder & Head Brewer
Because our brews are so unique, hybrid, or combine/defy traditional classifications, they fall outside of the norm, meaning there is a bit of an education that needs happen before you order your first brew. We help guide first-timers and seasoned beer geeks alike through our rotating list of selections to make sure they are prepared to enjoy our brews to the fullest. For us, this is part of the joy of what we are doing, sharing our love of wild experimentation with others, expanding upon what is known and evolving it. We love introducing our beers to new beer drinking audiences, educating them and developing their palates to appreciate what beer can be.
A modern, colorful, family-friendly, dog-friendly taproom.
It’s been fun seeing our taproom grow since we opened. When we were working with our architect for our taproom space, we wanted to have our environment reflect the same personalities of our beers––essentially, elegant with bright pops of color/flavor. And, we wanted to create an inviting space for locals in the neighborhood to come in a way that made it easy for them to bring their family and even their dogs, that was important to us, building a sense of community.
We have a very diverse group of beer drinkers who are coming to our taproom, and so we offer something for everyone. Many of our younger drinkers––while they may have a basic understanding of traditional beer categories––are often new to some of the styles of beer we most heavily brew here: traditional sour beers like Lambic style, Greuze, Grissett, and other farmhouse varieties––in addition to more conventional selections––so it’s been great to see them opening their minds to what beer can mean and our drink list reflects this.
If you look at our rotating menu, we have a lot of beers that don’t taste like something “expected”. They don't necessarily fall into a shake and bake category of a pilsner or something hoppy, malty, stout, etc., and so we are attracting a lot of wine drinkers, cider drinkers, and even non-beer drinkers. Spontaneous fermentation with wild yeasts allows for a whole new gamut of brewing exploration and creativity, which means that some of our beers are going to feel more like cocktails or wine than like traditional beers. These are exciting times for us. We feel like we can satisfy an open niche in the brewery market with the kinds of brewing experimentation we are doing right now and excited to keep the momentum going.
Our next blog in this series dives into what “wild” means to us and the bacteria behind the “funk” of sour beer brewing.