April 23, 2016
Well – there are two things that we should mention about this review:
- It was Passover when we went out to Burning Brothers.
- Burning Brothers Brewery is an exclusively Gluten Free Brewery!
That’s a lot to take in. What is Gluten Free Beer? What does it taste like? Why does that matter for Passover? How was this brewery trip unlike any other? Well – we answered some of those questions in our last post.
Burning Brothers (per their website) has been around since 2012. One of their head brewers, Dane Breimhorst, has Celiac. As it goes – he found out he had this gluten intolerance right around the time when they were originally planning the brewery. Armed with his insatiable love for beer and his training as a professional chef – he began exploring gluten free beers!
This is – to be honest – only a short summary of how this brewery came to be. I recommend checking out the “About” section on their website. It’s worth a read – even if just to understand where the name of the brewery came from!
Side note – we had a guest reviewer; Ryan Fagan (@msnguy81 on Twitter) joining us this go around!
Burning Brothers Brewing
1750 Thomas Ave S
St. Paul, MN 55104
Beer (Variety, Self Brew/Local, Taste)
DHM: Burning Brothers had 6 different beers on tap when we were there. A Pale Ale, Coffee Ale, Orange Blossom Honey, Lime Shandy, IPA, and a Raspberry Infused Pale Ale. I had 4 of the 6 in a flight (hurrah for choose your own!) and was generally pleased with how everything tasted!
Biggest fear about Gluten Free Beer – is obviously the taste. If you’ve ever gone in expecting bacon (for instance) and instead get “meatless bacon substitute” in your breakfast, then you know how much of a disappointment poorly planned beer can be.
That being said – BBB does pretty… alright. The highlights were the IPA and the Pyro Pale Ale. They really tasted just like beer. If you’d handed it to me without prefacing it, I would never had known. They were good, solid beers.
The flavored ones on the other hand – weren’t quite as solid. More like an alcoholic juice. The Coffee Ale a specific culprit. All in all – the mainstays were really delicious. Perfect for a warm day, but stick with the main beers. I’m rating them higher because the two beers they do really well definitely fill a void in the gluten free market. 4 of 5.
I had tasted one of Burning Brothers’ beers at a festival but didn’t remember much about it. I wasn’t really sure what to expect–I haven’t been a big fan of most of the other gluten free beers I’ve tried. That said, Burning Brothers really raises the bar for gluten free beer. They offer flights of any four of their beers.
- Pyro American Pale Ale (3.5 out of 5): This is just a really solid pale ale. Malt and yeast are English-influenced, but the hops are all American. If you handed this to me and didn’t tell me it was gluten free, I wouldn’t bat an eye.
- Orange Blossom Honey Pyro: (3.25): Their base Pyro with orange blossom honey added. Flavors are nice, but a little too sweet for me.
- Raj-Agni IPA (3): Tastes more like a standard session IPA, which is to say a little one-dimensional. Still, tastes like beer.
- Cascadian Coffee Ale (2): This was the only real miss for me. The coffee didn’t really go well with the base beer, and the whole thing just tasted off. I was expecting something stout-like, but this is much lighter in taste, color, and body.
Overall beer score: 3 out of 5. I’m rounding up because I was really impressed with the Pyro–I ended up ordering a half pint after my flight.
RTF: As someone with limited experience consuming gluten-free beer (I think I have had Lakefront New Grist twice… while on that brewer’s tour in Milwaukee) I did not know what to expect. While I wasn’t expecting to be blown away with the selection, and I wasn’t. Burning Brothers holds their own pretty well with a half dozen options. I decided against getting a flight and went all in with 2 pints of the two brews I figured I would enjoy.
First was the Coffee Ale. As a big fan of coffee infused beer I figured that this would be a solid introduction to BB’s offerings. While it was ok, there is something about it that kept it at a 2.75 in my book. The coffee flavor was the most bitter of any coffee beer that was a buzzkill. Next I had the Pale Ale, which is their “flagship” and for good reason, it is a solid 3 for me. Not overly hoppy. Drinkable. 3 out of 5
Aggregate Score: 3.33 of 5
Environment (Noise, Service, General Ambiance)
DHM: The environment was really welcoming. The brewery itself is tucked away pretty discreetly, so we almost drove past it when we first arrived. They had plenty of room inside though, both high and low tables for us. There was only one high chair though, which worked out this time around since we just held onto the kids for most of the time. Service was friendly and quick, and we didn’t get any bad vibes from the other customers. Everyone was there to have a good time. Points for having a set of board games available too if an older kid wanted to play a bit. 3.5 of 5.
IDK: I also drove past it when I first got there. More high chairs would be nice, but the one is more than most places can boast. The taproom is a bit on the small side, but it didn’t feel too cramped even when it started to fill up towards the end of our visit. Everyone was very friendly, and service was fast and efficient. It has a neighborhood watering hole feel to it. There were a mix of high tables and low tables, which was nice–the low tables are easier with kids, and I liked having the option. 3.5 out of 5.
RTF: I admit it… I drove past when I first arrived. Not quite sure where to enter. No big deal. Parking is plentiful. The taproom is clean and well laid out. Lots of seating. I was the first to arrive so I lucked out with the high chair! The staff was inviting and the other patrons didn’t give off any bad vibes. An older lady even approached us and complimented us on being good fathers… Now THAT is a reassuring thing to hear in a drinking establishment! My only wish is for there to be outdoor seating in the works there! My overall rating 3.5 out of 5
Aggregate Score: 3.5 of 5
Kid Friendly-ness (Menus, Area, Stroller Friendly)
DHM: It was a smaller tap room but I feel as though there would have been plenty of room for strollers. There is a pretty strict “no gluten” warning on the door though, so no Cheerios or Goldfish would have been allowed if they kids needed a quick snack. Food was provided by a food truck, and the brewery even had a $.75 juice box on the menu. There wasn’t an outside area – but they did say that they were working with the city on how to add that on. Again – pretty standard fare I feel, especially since it is a brewery after all. Some nice touches though. 3 of 5.
IDK: I agree an outdoor area would have been nice, and I’m glad to hear they’re working on it. My kid is still a little too young for juice boxes, but major props for having them available. A few more high chairs would have been nice. 3.5 out of 5.
RTF: Small taproom but there is open space to maneuver a stroller. Only one highchair as previously stated. Staff was welcoming to our kids so they obviously didn’t mind. When you have a juice box on your menu that says a lot! My overall rating 3 out of 5
Aggregate Score: 3.2 of 5
Facilities (Changing tables in bathrooms, kid “area”)
DHM: Since it was a smaller tap room, it only had a single stall bathroom for both men and women. They did have an easily accessible changing table though in both of the bathrooms. The games were a nice touch if older kids came with. Generally pretty good! 3.5 out of 5.
IDK: The single stall arrangement is nice because you have a little privacy to change a diaper, but you run the risk of feeling rushed if there’s someone waiting. 3.5 out of 5.
RTF: Great to see a changing table is in the men’s and women’s restroom. Noticed the games that would be great for older kids. Not bad.
My overall rating 3 out of 5
Aggregate Score 3.33 of 5
DHM: We looked this time! Artisanal cola. Juice boxes… something else… sorry I didn’t do a very good job at this. 4 out of 5.
IDK: . Hooray for semi-attentiveness! There were definitely options. I don’t remember exactly what they were. Definitely some sort of soda and the aforementioned juice boxes. Probably water, too? 3.5 out of 5.
RTF: Not going to lie and say I was paying close attention to the non-alcoholic options. I know they had a few pop options and the juice box option. Not enough knowledge of it to rate it. NA
Aggregate Score: 3.75 of 5
PatP Final Say:
If you suffer from Celiac or any kind of gluten intolerance – check this place out. If you’re keeping Passover, totally worth a look as well. I’d stick to their beer beers instead of the flavored ones, but the beer beers are pretty tasty. Burning Brothers are surely filling in a need that no other brewery quite can (outside of going all cider). For skeptics of this “non-gluten beer” I urge you to give it a try, and open your options, even if it’s grabbing a sixer for your gluten intolerant friends.
Final Score: 3.4 of 5