Friday, August 26, 2016

Finch Kitchen and Brewery

Those of you that read this blog regularly know that I enjoy going to different breweries, both for the beer, and in the case of those places that are also brewpubs, to try the food that they serve.  I recently went to a brewpub in North Center that I had previously been to and liked before when it was known as Breakroom Brewery.  I was kind of sad when Breakroom went away, but it was nice to see another up and coming local brewery, Finch's Brewing Co., now known as Finch Beer after also buying out Hopothesis Beer Company.  I had had several Finch Beers before and liked what I had had.  I knew that they had been looking for a place for a taproom for a while, so while it was a little sad to see a good brewpub go away, it was good to see another local brewery move in quickly bringing in their own celebrity chef.  The opening chef for Breakroom was Dirk Flanigan (formerly of The Gage), the opening chef for Finch Beer Co. and Kitchen is Matthias Merges (Yusho, Billy Sunday, A10).  As the space simply went from one brewery to another, only minimal changes were made in the dining room.  The space still has a high ceiling with exposed rafters, hardwood floors and furniture, garage doors at the front, and brewing tanks on either side of the dining room.  The major change came in the back of the room.  The woodshop that made bars that was in the back is now gone and is now an expanded brewing area.  The wall that separated the bar making company from the brewpub used to have a large wooden flag on it.  That has been replaced by a neon yellow finch which is the symbol for Finch Beer.
As far as the beer is concerned, they have a flight menu that is also used as a serving coaster.  There are 8 beers offered on tap that you can order as part of a flight.  There was also a cider, a guest tap, and a Hopothesis beer offered on tap, but which had to be ordered in 10 or 16 oz sizes.  When I was there, flights of four or eight were offered, it seems that they are now offered as three or five.  As it was early and I had other places to be, I decided to just go for a flight of four.  At the time that I went there, they seemed to be focusing on IPAs as there were 3 IPAs and an APA on the flight menu.  The flight menu now seems to be more widely focused with a variety of styles including a saison, a lager, a Mexican Lager, a dubbel, a wit, and one of the IPAs that had been on the menus previously.  The flight that I ordered included  Skull Hammer American IPA, Liquid Swords APA, Shards of Narsil American IPA, and Western Exposure Belgian Witbier.  As the name suggests, Skull Hammer hits hard and was pretty bitter.  Between the two IPAs that chose, I preferred the hops of the Shards of Narsil which had a more tropical flavor.  Liquid Swords was a hoppy pale ale that does not quite reach IPA levels of bitterness, and Western Exposure had a grassy coriander flavor and a higher ABV than a standard ABV.  Overall, the beers weren't bad, but I liked the Shards of Narsil best. 
When looking at the food at a brewpub, you have to look at the bar snacks offered.  Pretzels and nuts should be expected, but pork rinds, sausage,  and crispy chickpeas were a surprise to see on the menu.  I ordered the Crispy Chickpeas with Smoked Paprika which were served in a sealable plastic bag with a window which was brought in a bowl.  It was a good thing that they were brought in a sealable bag, because I got more than I would eat in a single sitting (actually I got more than I would eat in several sittings).  The chickpeas were crispy, flavorful, and well coated in smoky paprika, which gave them a spicy and smoky flavor.  They were also a great palate cleanser so I could better differentiate between the beers.  They were very addictive and reminded me of corn nuts and while I didn't eat them all in a single sitting, I made sure that they came with me when I left.
The rest of the menu is divided into For The Table, shareable dishes, Sausages, Sandwiches, and Dessert.  While there were a few things on the shareable menu that looked good like the Raclette Cheese Platter, Charred Beets, and Beer Steamed Mussels, I was by myself, so I wouldn't be sharing, and while the sausages looked interesting, I went with a Crispy Chicken Sandwich with Kimchi, Fried Shallots, and Sesame Aioli which were served with a side of Kennebec fries.  The chicken had a crispy breading with a tender, juicy interior, and a great flavor.  The kimchi and the aioli gave the chicken some sour, some spice, and a nice Asian accent.
Dessert basically worked out to be a choice between ice cream and donuts and while I like ice cream and they were serving Black Dog Gelato, I really was not in the mood for ice cream, so donuts, it was.  The Donuts in question were Chocolate Stout Donuts with Ginger Caramel Dipping Sauce topped with Powdered Sugar.  The bartender suggested that I order a Finch Secret Stache Chocolate Stout, which was the stout used in making the donuts because it would make a great pairing.  While I thought it sounded like it would be a great pairing, I tried to wave it off.  The bartender though, noticed that I am a great guy to give free stuff to, and decided to give me a tasting glass of the stout.  The donuts were hot and fluffy with a great chocolate flavor and a bitter malt undertone.  They did pair perfectly with the stout and the dipping sauce provided a creamy and spicy sweet finish.  I enjoyed my beer and meal here and will return to try more.      

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