In late spring of 2010, there were exactly zero blonde ales being brewed and distributed in Minnesota. We had just launched with Sweet Child of Vine in late 2009, and didn’t have the capacity to brew a second beer just yet. For over a year, we had been homebrewing and refining a recipe for an ale that was light in color and hopped with German noble varieties. The malt bill – consisting of 2 Row and a little Caramel 10 and White Wheat – was dialed in quickly, but the hops varieties took much longer. We iterated through 18 different versions of the recipe before landing on a flavor/aroma combination of Tettnanger and Mittelfreuh which has carried through to the present day. Brewing 5 or 10 gallons of each of those versions meant we had significant quantities of homebrewed Blonde to drink through. But it always seemed to disappear—quickly. We finally wrapped our minds around the idea that this could be Fulton’s next year-round beer.
As the only locally produced beer of the style, the name “Lonely Blonde” was a natural fit. To this day, we have internal disagreements on who came up with the name, and there are even a few apocryphal name-origin stories that circulate within the brewery from time to time. (The lesson? If you think you have a clever idea, create detailed documentation so you can prove your friends and business partners wrong over beers later on).
By the time we released Lonely Blonde, we were confident we had created a very good beer, but we were less sure of the reception it would receive. At that time, the Minnesota craft beer market was a different place. There were only about 15 breweries in the state (compared to over 150 today); the first taproom wouldn’t open for almost another two years. Craft beer in Minnesota was mostly about big, hoppy IPAs and extreme stouts. We had no idea if anyone would drink a Blonde Ale; maybe we’d even get made fun of for making a “light beer” (which, for the record, Lonely Blonde is not).
As would be the case so many more times over the next seven years, we were wrong. Lonely Blonde rolled out on draft to a handful of bars and restaurants, and then a handful more. And then a few more and more. Most people thought it was just a summer seasonal at first (it wasn’t), and the volume was far behind Sweet Child of Vine, which had far exceeded our expectations out of the gate and was growing leaps and bounds. Nonetheless, Lonely Blonde kept selling more and more every month, and five years later, it quietly overtook Sweet Child of Vine as Fulton’s number one beer. Today, one of every two Fulton beers consumed is a Lonely Blonde. We were honored to receive a Bronze Medal at the Great American Beer Fest in 2015, and are even more proud of the number of times we’ve been told that Lonely Blonde is “my favorite beer.”
So, maybe Lonely Blonde isn’t so Lonely anymore – but who said that’s a bad thing?
Whew! What a year it's been. In the spring we announced our joining forces with Artisanal Imports as a partner in our expansion into new markets. And, in the lead up to our first new market launch with them, we've been extra busy diligently refining our beer lineup, adding and subtracting to make sure that we're serving up the very best both here in MN and beyond. With that said, we're launching Fulton in a number of Kansas cities this week with Lonely Blonde, Sweet Child of Vine, 300, Standard and PIŁS. Look for Fulton in cans and on draft at your favorite KS bars, restaurants and stores starting now.
This week's launch itinerary:
Fulton Beer – Packaging Assistant
Fulton is a Minneapolis brewery founded in 2009. We own and operate a 20 bbl brewery and taproom in downtown Minneapolis next to Target Field, and a 50,000 square foot production brewery in Northeast Minneapolis. In 2016, Fulton produced approximately 26,000 barrels, sold across a five state distribution footprint. We’re a group of beer enthusiasts focused on brewing extraordinary beer and working to make our community a better place. Our Ful10 Fund provides loans and support to other small businesses and non-profits, and our Fulton Racing teams encourage participation in active lifestyle sports. Best of all, we get to live, work, and play in Minneapolis-St. Paul, consistently ranked as one of the top metro areas in the United States for quality of life, urban parks, education, bicycling, theater, dining, and more.
Sounds like a place you’d like to be? We are seeking a Packaging Assistant to join our rapidly growing company. The right individual is a leader who works well with others, focuses on quality and technical excellence, loves to work and play hard, embraces opportunities for continuous learning and improvement, and is passionate about extraordinary beer.
The demands of the Packaging Assistant position are very physical in nature. The demands described here are representative of those that must be met by an employee to successfully perform the essential functions of this job. While performing the duties of this job you will be working over, under, and around machinery in tight and cramped spaces. You will need to be able to work in awkward positions for extended periods of time and/or standing, kneeling, and crouching for long periods of time. You must be comfortable working at heights while standing on a ladder or in a basket. This work environment involves indoor and outdoor activities in various temperatures and weather conditions. The ability to frequently lift and/or move up to 20 pounds and occasionally lift and/or move up to 50 pounds. Employees are exposed to high levels of noise and other hazards requiring the use of personal protective equipment.
Fulton offers a salary commensurate with experience and a benefits package. We’re looking to hire people who are serious about beer without taking themselves too seriously. The ability to adapt to change, operate independently, work hard, and learn fast is a must.
Still interested? Send your resume and any other reasons why you’re a good fit at Fulton at email@example.com
Once in a while, you get lucky. In the summer of 2009, the four of us were busily creating and perfecting recipes on a custom-built homebrew system (that is: made of a chopped up & welded together bed frame and 3 “retired” ½ bbl kegs) in a Fulton neighborhood garage. Earlier that year, we had embarked on the path of starting our brewery, and by then we had several recipes that were in consideration for release at our planned launch date later that year. Our favorite was a classic pale ale brewed with Cascade and Perle hops, and we also had a blonde ale that was showing promise after nearly twenty iterations on the homebrew system (if you hadn’t guessed by now, they would later become The Ringer and Lonely Blonde). In particular, we loved our pale ale and thought it was “the one.” It was balanced, clean, and bright; we thought it was perfect. But on every one of our early sales calls, bartenders and managers asked if we made an IPA.
In hindsight, it seems like an obvious question, but even just eight years ago, IPAs weren’t quite the big deal they are in 2017. In fact, we had been working on an IPA, but at that time, we’d only brewed our current recipe twice. And the recipe was a bit unusual. Though far from being an edgy, over-the-top IPA of the ilk that was exploding on the West Coast at the time, ours wasn’t exactly conventional either; the recipe was an unusual convergence of American IPA ingredients with English-style balance. It featured two relatively new or obscure hops, Simcoe and Glacier, along with a malt bill consisting of a healthy dose of White Wheat and Caramel 60. We weren’t sure what people would think of it, but we started bringing bottles of a homebrewed IPA we called “Sweet Child of Vine” on our sales calls.
We’re glad they asked. Every bar we sampled Sweet Child at agreed to put it on tap as soon as we could supply it, which was still several months away. We went from wondering which of our beers people would even like, to wondering how we were going to even meet demand. We launched Sweet Child of Vine as Fulton’s sole beer in October 2009 and didn’t release another year-round beer for another 8 months. Initially, we had to limit our distribution to keep up with demand. Sweet Child was initially available draft only to just 7 bars. Soon we added another 9, then we upped it to 25, then 35, then 50. It was two full years before we had the capacity to release Sweet Child (or anything else) in bottles. What had started out as a homebrewing recipe brewed for our own enjoyment had quickly blossomed into one of the hottest new beers around.
But we had a lot to learn, and our first big lesson was just around the corner. Early in 2010, we called our hops supplier to order a few boxes of Simcoe for our next few weeks production. “We’re out of Simcoe,” came the answer. “Ok, when will you have it back?” Ryan asked, expecting it to be available again in a few days or maybe a week or two. “Three years.”
So that’s how learned about hops contracts. As it turned out, Simcoe was one of the Next. Big. Hops. As a brand new startup, we weren’t prepared in the least for that answer, but we adapted. Less than six months after we sold our first pint of Sweet Child, we had to replace Simcoe in the recipe with something else. We tried a few substitutions, and landed on CTZ (Columbus/Tomahawk/Zeus) as our replacement for the foreseeable future. In relatively quick order, the Sweet Child of Vine we all knew and loved became a CTZ beer, not a Simcoe beer—and a great one, at that. As a result, for most of Sweet Child of Vine’s history as a commercially available beer, CTZ, not Simcoe, has been the signature hop variety alongside Glacier.
But those of us who recalled its original formulation with Simcoe…missed it. We wanted to bring Simcoe back, someday. But the bigger the beer became, the more unlikely it seemed that we ever would be able to source enough of the hop variety that was simultaneously exploding in popularity.
Finally, in late 2016, we managed to procure enough Simcoe to revisit and revise the Sweet Child of Vine recipe. In the intervening months, our brew crew has been methodically tweaking the Sweet Child recipe to add Simcoe back into the recipe. At the same time, we subtly dialed back the proportion of Caramel malt in the recipe. The result? Sweet Child of Vine is still the balanced, approachable IPA that you’ve come to know, love, and rely upon…yet it’s not identical to what you remember, either. The toned-down Caramel malt profile melds nicely with a slightly drier mouthfeel, highlighting the mellower but fruitier character of the Simcoe hops. Sweet Child of Vine still drinks magnificently on its own, and pairs with almost any food you can throw at it: from red meat to tropical fruit desserts. In our (extremely biased) opinion, Sweet Child is one of the most versatile and all-out enjoyable IPAs on the market today. Next time you see it, grab a pint, 4-pack, 6-pack, or 12-pack and let us know what you think.
Ahhhhhhh...the great Minnesota get-together. Each year Minnesotans have the nearly 2 weeks of fair to mark their summer's end. With rides, agricultural attractions, live entertainment and some of the wackiest "on a stick" food options known to man, it's easy to find yourself spending a day (and some serious $$$) at the Fair. For those making a day of it and looking for some refreshment Fulton-style, we've devised this handy map to get you headed in the right direction.
See you at the Fair!
Ahead of next week's heat wave, we've teamed up with our buddies at Bittercube to bring you the Mosaic Radler, a most refreshing summer beer cocktail based around our 300 Mosaic IPA. And, speaking of teaming up we'll be back again at Chef Camp, a Northwoods culinary adventure this September. Join us at camp for chef-led cooking classes taught over the fire, classic summer camp activities (canoeing, archery, crafts), epic meals under the stars and small-group beer workshops taught by our Fulton team.
Right now Chef Camp has a special deal for fans of Fulton. Click here or use code "FULTON2017" for discounts of more than 10 percent on tickets to Chef Camp's September 8-10 session.
For more information, visit chefcampmn.com or come down to the Fulton taproom on Wednesday, July 12 from 5:30-7:30 where the Chef Camp team will be hosting a meetup and answering questions. First 10 people to come say hi will get a free Chef Camp tshirt!
See you at camp!
Picture yourself headed to a Twins game with your friends or family. Maybe you take the LRT into the North Loop and you find yourself with some time to kill. So, being the beer-loving person you are you pop on by the Fulton Taproom to soak up some pre-game suds. On your way out you say to yourself, "Geez, sure wish I could keep these Fultons flowing at the game". Well, faithful Fulton supporter, we're here to tell you that you can. The map below puts you on the path to keeping the Fulton flowing at Target Field.
Now you know, and knowing is half the battle.
See you at the game!
72 Stretch, our Gose-Style Ale is back. What's better than that? We've made our most summery beer a bit more mobile by putting it in tallboys. Now you can take some with on whatever adventure you're planning. This weekend we're headed South and North on adventures of our own and taking 72 Stretch with us.
On the North Shore? Swing up to Lutsen Mountains from 4-8. We'll be pouring samples of 72 Stretch, Hopstar, Pils, and other Fultons at our tent outside of Papa Charlies as part of the Lutsen 99er kickoff party.
We're at Mankato's Solstice Outdoor Music Festival both days serving up Sweet Child of Vine, Lonely Blonde and 72 Stretch. Maybe on Saturday you're jumping on a tube and floating in the Mankato Monster Float? If so, catch us that morning sampling 72 Stretch around 11.
A year ago we worked with our good friends at FMR, Rahr, and Bob Mitchell's Fly Shop to release 72 Stretch as a taproom-only beer. We chose the name as an nod to the 72 mile stretch that constitutes the Mississippi River National Park. This year BMFS put together one of the more enjoyable (and ambitious!) fishing contests we've seen and we're happy to host their award ceremony in the Fulton Taproom. Not big on fishing? Not a problem. We'll be releasing 72 Stretch for the first time in the cities back in the taproom where it debuted in 2016.
We work with, and support, 100's of organizations each year. And while we do our best to "spread the love", there are a few categories of interest we think are vital to our local community (we tend to try extra hard in these categories). One of these groups that impacts us in ways we sometimes take for granted is the Arts & Creative community here in MPLS. Besides the jobs created and billions of dollars pumped into our local community, there's a public art component that brings perspective, entertainment and inspiration to our lives. In our opinion, one of the best ways to get out, see, do and engage in this realm is Northern Spark. Which, we have proudly supported 3 years strong now.
We hope to see you out and about Saturday night! If all that art interaction gets you thirsty, stop by our (new) beer garden at the corner of Portland Ave and 4th 9-12pm in the Commons Park.
(Northern Spark is from 9:29pm to 5:26am.)
This week we are releasing an all-new Continental Pilsner, simply titled “PILS.” PILS will be available year-round on draft and in six packs of 12 oz bottles. Why a Pilsner? Simply put, most of us at the brewery love this style of beer. It’s usually the first beer we seek out when we visit a new town or another brewery. Whenever the ageless “desert island beer” conversation comes up, one Pilsner or another gets an impassioned debate. The only problem was, Fulton had never brewed a Pils. So, we set out to make a great one. Ours is built on a base of Minnesota-malted Rahr Pilsner. It features a smooth, well-rounded bitterness provided by German Perle, and a pleasantly floral aroma provided by the style’s hallmark Saaz hops. Pilsner yeast punctuates the beer with a beautifully clean finish. At 5.3% ABV and 30 IBU, this is a beer that leaves your senses wanting for nothing – except another.
It’s always exciting to add a new beer to our repertoire. In the 10 years since we started homebrewing in a one car South Minneapolis garage, we have come to appreciate and enjoy nearly every style of beer. To us, a large part of what drew us to homebrewing was the ability to create any beer, with our imaginations being pretty much the only limitation. As the number of styles and substyles of beer continues to grow and evolve, and the quality and diversity of ingredients available to brew with grows as well, the permutations and combinations of recipe possibilities approaches infinity—or at least a number way higher than we can count. But as a production brewery, the unfortunate reality is that there is a finite number of tap handles and shelf spots in the world; we can’t brew every beer we want, all the time.
So begins the long process of narrowing down the world of endless choice to perhaps a couple dozen beers that will appear in our lineup over the period of a year. Many are small releases of only a few hundred cases and a few dozen kegs. Some are draft only, and some never even make it out of our taproom. A handful make it into our year-round lineup. If you’ve ever drank a Fulton, you’d had one of these. For the first five years of Fulton’s existence, we had only two Core beers – Lonely Blonde and Sweet Child of Vine. We were unusual in that way; most breweries have four or five year-round beers the first day they open for business. We chose to do fewer because we believed investing our efforts in perfecting just a couple beers rather than a half dozen or more made long term sense, in terms of quality of beer and of building brand recognition. Meanwhile we quenched our fans’—and our own—thirst for variety by releasing a growing number of seasonals. First came Worthy Adversary, then Libertine. Later on, it was Expat, Randonneur, and many many more. In 2014, after years of it being a taproom favorite, we added The Ringer to our year-round lineup. Last year, we increased our Core lineup to 5 beers, with the addition of 300 IPA and Standard Lager. In total, we brewed about 25 beers in 2016, with 16 of those making it out in both draft and package formats.
So we have finally have a full calendar of year-round and seasonal beers, and it took just seven years to build. What to do now? Tear it up, of course! Well, not entirely…but substantially. In the name of creative destruction, we’ve re-worked much of our lineup this year. We’re introducing some all-new beers, making some familiar favorites into taproom exclusives, and even retiring a few.
The biggest change: to make room for PILS, The Ringer is moving out of our year-round lineup. Ringer loyalists need not fear, as it will continue to be available in the taproom on a regular basis. And the last of the bottles are still on shelves of some stores, so you may still be able to pick up a sixer for a short time.
There have been even more changes in the seasonal camp. Last month we released a brand-new NE-style Session IPA, "Hopstar." It’s been in such a high demand that it’s gone from our warehouse already, so if you see it on shelves, grab it while you can, because we are out except for a few kegs that our taproom will continue to pour. Meanwhile, in the “addition by subtraction” column, we have drawn back on our saison lineup. You may have noticed Randonneur didn’t appear in bottles this year. We have dialed that back to a taproom-only release, which is pouring now. Our other two saisons, Expat and Maitrise, have retired. Does that mean you’ll never taste them again? Not necessarily, but we don’t yet have a timetable for their return.
On the all-new side, 2017 will see 3 releases in our Culture Project series. Two, a golden ale aged in oak for two years on lacto, pedio, and brett, came out in April. Later this year, Tanager, our 100% Barrel-fermented Brett IPA makes its bottle debut, followed by another Culture Project release late in the year.
Enough change yet? Almost, but not quite. In addition to our just-released collaboration with the Star Tribune, Extra! Extra!, we have a couple more collaborations in the works that we can’t talk about just yet. And we’ll have more all-new taproom-exclusive releases dropping occasionally throughout the year.
That gets us back to where we started—brewing what we want, when we want. At any given moment, we generally have 20-24 beers available in the taproom. The lineup changes on an almost weekly basis. Keep an eye on the taproom page of our website; we keep the taps listed there as fresh as the beer. Of course you can always find our perennial favorites on tap, and every limited release visits the taproom as well. Drop by for a beer sometime soo, and meanwhile, pick up a six pack of Pils next time you’re in the liquor store – it just might become your desert island beer.