We've been hearing good things about Schell's Bockfest for a few years now and finally this year our friends at Schell's convinced us that we had to go. We've also been meaning to get by Mankato Brewery and decided to make a weekend of it and visit both brewerys.
Sneaking out of work a little early Friday to make the trek, it's about an hour and half down to Mankato depending on traffic (and whether you miss three different turns talking shop). But we still were there a little a head of planned meeting with Co-Founder Tim Tupy.
As you walk in you immediately see the nice laquered wood bar with several taps including some tap room exclusive specials. After grabbing a couple of pints, we walked into the brewery area and the building opened up to show its true size. Several tables and chairs along with some bar games and a popcorn machine look out into a huge brewery space on display for you.
After a few minutes chatting with the friendly staff and patrons, Tim arrived and took us on a private tour (yes, there are some perks to being in the business). From the steam heated mash tun all the way through their seven 30bbl fermenters, to the kegging and bottling lines, Tim's explanations and insight made it clear he understands this brewery from top to bottom.
We ended up the tour in the cold storage room with a fun treat for the hop heads. The brewery shares space with Brewer's Supply Group (how convenient is that?!) and this room was full of palate after palate of all different kinds of hops. I had to hold myself back from opening up some of the packages and "making it rain".
Overall, we had a blast and were very impressed with the entire operations. Big thanks to Tim, one of the nicest guys in the business and a great host!