I remember the day after Michael Jackson died very well. That morning I met with my friends at the park and ride so we could all go fishing together — one of them told me to stop singing “Smooth Criminal” on the way there. Once arrived we started paddling, arguing about which Rapalas were ideally colored for attracting bass. No one could agree on a color.
The debate concluded once the sky opened up. Horrendous downpour, lightning strikes all around. We had to paddle back to shore in a hurry, or we would have been like three shotgun primers on a hot skillet in that metal canoe. With nothing else to do the man in the middle ate all of our stored sliced ham, reasoning that he’d rather have finished it all should he have to be struck by lightning. We got to the Mercury at last and lashed the canoe to the roof. Then we took a moment and drank. It is a great time to drink during bad weather.
I neglected to ask Joseph Giambruno why he named his brewery and taproom the way that he did, but I suspect it stems from a similar life experience. Joe’s is the classic brewer’s origin story — a man who got his mitts on a crappy homebrewing kit, made an accordingly crappy batch of beer, and reasoned that he could do far, far better. After college he attended brewing school and then worked at a homebrew supply store. Opportunity eventually reared its lustrous head, and Joseph got his own operation in St. Paul.
“I know it sounds cliché for a guy like me to say it, but what I love most about brewing is how it balances science with art,” said Joseph. “It’s a lot of moving parts — keeping your yeast culture happy, selecting the appropriate grains to suit the style of beer you’re making, controlling your oxygen levels — here, let me show you something.”
Joseph led me to a room apart from the main brewery, where some complicated and expensive looking machines were kept. (This room also held an impressive collection of whiskeys, an espresso machine to counteract their effect, and a stuffed Marvin the Martian to supervise things.) “Bad Weather is especially lucky to have my wife Logan on the team,” Joseph explained. “We couldn’t have afforded a scientist like her on our own. That machine over there cost us tens of thousands, but it’s worth it — with it she can test our beer to make sure it doesn’t contain enough oxygen to spoil on the shelf.”
I visited the mill room, sacks and sacks of cheerful smelling grain piled around a machine which you almost certainly wouldn’t want to stick your hand in. From it an auger took the crushed grain to a giant boil kettle, the kind that you would clean at the end of the day while conspiring to kill Gus Fring. This connected to towering fermenters, each with a fermentation lock that bubbled like a witch’s cauldron.
The other side of the brewery, where you get to actually drink the beer, is far more personable. It has got any bar’s requisite arcade machines and jukebox, with great garage doors leading out to the patio. A food truck sat nearby to feed Bad Weather’s happy patrons. Joseph offered me anything I’d like to drink, which I couldn’t accept for my love of driving in straight lines. He instead gave me ten ice cold cans to take home. I wholly approved of that measure.
Because it came in the biggest can, I first tried the Munich Helles. It was crisp and clean like any lager should be, with a subtle spiciness that came from its hops. This would be the absolute thing to drink with Hans and Günter after putting away the last bale of hay for the season. I followed that up with a brilliant IPA, the name of which I can’t record because I finished it and its brothers that night and have already taken out the recycling. Finally I had the Sun Pillar, my favorite of the three. It’s a Belgian blonde made with Pilsen malt and candi sugar, but through some miracle of zymurgy comes out tasting like a campfire should if you could drink one.
If you’ve any fondness for beer, so can’t sabotage yourself by not trying one of Bad Weather’s. You can find their cans at fine liquor stores throughout the Twin Cities, but drinking it onsite at the taproom is highly advisable. You can learn more about everything at badweatherbrewery.com.
By David Scheller