Minnesota has some deeply interesting beers: Olvalde, for instance, makes true farmhouse ales, that is, beers and ales made from barley grown and malted on their farm, in southern Minnesota, and hops grown there too. And sometimes Olvalde goes even crazier, and ages their farmhouse beer on on-farm rhubarb; and when they do something like that the shop it ends up at is Four Firkins, a true phenomenon on the western edge of Minneapolis in the suburb of St. Louis Park.
Pop in and you’ll find more than 2,000 square feet of only beer, including a truly jaw-dropping array of Belgian imports, and charismatic owner Jason Alvey busying himself with some terrifically special event or other, like the unveiling of a special tiny cask (a “pin”) of dry-hopped beer from local brewer Lucid, designed exclusively to be drank by Four Firkins guests. Or the careful rationing of tiny allocations of Surly SYX, the Minnesota cult brewery’s strong ale aged on six species of wood. Or the signing of petitions to change state law so that owner Jason Alvey could sell Four Firkins branded shirts to his passionate fans. (Previously, liquor stores could not sell their own branded merchandise. For some dumb reason.) That law passed! So did the one Alvey led allowing him to charge for in-store classes. The law passed because the charismatic Australian Alvey has bigger-than-life energy (possibly fueled by beer?) and a vast army of beer fans (certainly fueled by beer) inspired to write letters and contact legislators on his behalf. And that’s the story of how a deeply interesting beer scene is advanced in ways that promise to make it even more interesting—pint by pint.