Grab your pint glass this week as we take a trip to the North Shore.
Voyager Brewing Company in Grand Marais has quickly become a destination for all beer lovers. The scenic backdrop of Lake Superior and the surrounding landscape sets the tone for a true Northern Minnesota craft brew.
We are sampling the Boundary Waters Brunette Brown Ale, a beer that encompasses Voyager’s appreciation and closeness with nature.
Voyager Brewing Company sits proudly perched above Lake Superior, a lake that provides more than just scenery from the tap house.
The waters of Lake Superior are used in the brewing process of all Voyager beers. This displays the connection to nature and the natural surroundings of the North Shore. The names of their beers honor scenic places along the North Shore, such as the Palisade Porter and Devil’s Kettle IPA. Voyager’s connection to the local environment is seen in everything from ingredients to marketing.
Voyager’s head brewer, Anders Johansen, was the former brewer of Deschutes Brewing Company in Oregon. Deschutes has been heralded as a pioneer in the craft beer movement and Johansen has brought his inspiration and expertise to craft exceptional and innovative brews.
For instance, the Boundary Waters Brunette includes notes of wild rice from Red Lake, Minnesota, another touch of nature that makes its way into Voyager’s brewing.
The generically named brown ale is brewed in countries like England, Belgium, Germany and even the United States. The term brown ale was first used by brewers in London in the late 17th century. Around that time, brown ales were lightly hopped, brewed primarily from brown malt.
Pale malts were used as a cheaper substitute to the brown malt into the 18th century and the beer lost some of its distinct flavors. In the 19th century, the original style of the brown ale was brought back to life with the release of the Manns Brown Ale in England.
Not long after, the Newcastle Brown Ale was created and found its place in bars across the world. With the continued rise in popularity of craft beer, many breweries across the country produce their own version of the brown ale, incorporating their own unique personality. Voyageur is no exception to this with the addition of the Lake Superior water and Red Lake Wild Rice, exemplifying their pride in their Northern Minnesota roots.
Wild rice and Lake Superior water? That had us intrigued and we had to try this brown ale. When the beer is poured it has a dark brown amber color, with inklings of a smoldering deep red.
The Boundary Waters Brunette does not have a strong scent, but it does possess subtle earthy undertones. When first sipped the beer is sweet and crisp on the tongue with minimal bitterness. It is an extremely smooth beer with strong overtones of malt and hints of nuts and earthiness. We have to admit, we are not experts when it comes to the flavors of wild rice so we were unable to detect its presence in the beer. However, we did find noticeable flavors of nuttiness in the aftertaste and this perhaps masks the taste of the wild rice.
Overall Voyager’s commitment to using local sources in the brewing process comes through in the flavors and character of the Boundary Waters Brunette. This brewery truly has found its home in the North Shore. This brown ale serves as a good introduction to the style of the beer and its smooth nature is inviting. So take a plunge into this Lake Superior inspired beer. Drink responsibly, CSB/SJU.