Exotic Beer for the Masses: 'Pour Decisions' Preps for Roseville Open
The Roseville brewery premiered at the 2012 State Fair and is planning a mid-September grand opening.
A couple years ago Kristen England was a homebrewing hobbyist at the pinnacle of the amateur beer scene.
He had entered countless homebrewing competitions, winning “hundreds and hundreds” of awards, ribbons and prizes for his concoctions, he said, and had become education director for the Beer Judge Certification Program, a non-profit that trains the tastes of contest officials.
But England needed more.
“I won just about everything you can win at the amateur level and was just bored with competing there,” he said.
So when his friend B.J. Haun proposed opening a brewery, England hopped at the idea.
Now, about two years later, Pour Decisions Brewery is ramping up production in preparation for a mid-September opening at its Roseville warehouse.
(The Roseville Council approved a taproom liquor license for the brewery in July, leading to what England called "pretty much the most liberal hours in the state when it comes to taprooms.")
One of the brewery’s two opening day ales, dubbed the “Pubstitute,” premiered at the State Fair, the first beer ever to do so.
England and Haun met in grad school at the U of M, while the two were pursuing PhDs in agronomy and pharmacology. (They graduated about five years ago and both now hold corporate jobs.)
For England, brewing was a way to apply his scientific background recreationally.
“I’ve done an awful lot of yeast work,” he said. “I’ve been doing science forever, and brewing’s just a different type of science.”
Pour Decisions’ mission, England said, is to brew styles popular abroad but unavailable in the Twin Cities while keeping the beer’s flavors enjoyable to a mild Midwestern palate.
It’s an ambition both exotic and demotic. New tastes but not strong tastes. No piquant notes of coffee or chocolate or hops.
“I’ve had the opportunity to travel all around the world and go to different countries and try different beers that you can’t buy within, say, 20 miles away from the area,” he said. “Our beers are not necessarily eclectic and they’re not necessarily weird or extremely different. But the combination of flavors and the types of beers just aren’t made anywhere else.”
The Pubstitute, which England calls a “dark Scottish light,” is a perfect example of this approach.
England said he first tasted the style in his early 20s while he was living in Britain and has returned to it often over the years.
For the casual drinker, the beer is something of a magic trick. It’s thick and hefty on the tongue, like a porter, but contains few calories and, at less than 3 percent alcohol, its wallop is modest enough that it could be sold at a Minnesota supermarket.
“Even though these are beers people have never seen here, they’re still flavors people can understand,” England said.