- On January 28, 2016
In the process of brewing beer to sell to the public, most people would assume that one of the first steps would be to build a brewery. That’s actually not always the case. Out of all of the unbelievable momentum and evolution in the last decade of craft beer, the emergence of so-called “Gypsy Brewers” has been one of the most interesting and unexpected developments.
Gypsy brewers don’t own breweries. They are the creatives and the conceptualizers and the recipe-writers, often nomadically traveling from brewery to brewery, sometimes all over the world, renting out space and equipment to create small batches of what’s often highly imaginative beer. With total creative control, and using specific ingredients, processes, and brewing techniques, they will often make a small amount of a one-of-a-kind beer, package it, and then move on to the next project. Without the massive investment in building and owning the brewing space, these brewers are under less pressure to create crowd-pleasing and accessible beer styles to “pay the bills” with, and they tend to go all-out and push the boundaries with highly stylized, sometimes bizarre, and often phenomenal craft brews.
Looking to try some of their creations? We’ve got you covered, at least for a few. While the Minnesota market does have access to some of these operations, the worldwide list is much larger and I would expect it to grow like crazy over the next several years. The most notorious “Gypsy Brewers” include Mikkeller, Evil Twin, Omnipollo, Stillwater, and Pretty Things. Out of that list the most commonly available at Zipps include Evil Twin, Omnipollo, Stillwater, and occasionally Mikkeller (all to varying degrees depending on what’s been brewed lately). Here are a few options that are currently in stock as of today:
Omnipollo “Ras” – Omnipollo is a two-man operation out of Sweden that produces strange and beautiful beer with label design to match. Ras is a 100% Citra-hopped IPA brewed with oats and wheat, giving at a cloudy appearance and a velvety, soft texture. The tropical, dank, fruity, and overall gorgeous Citra hop aromas and flavors are the star of the show, and I think this beer is a true contender with other Midwest USA Citra-hopped favorites such as Pseudo Sue and Zombie Dust.
Evil Twin “Imperial Doughnut Break” – Evil Twin Brewing is helmed by Jeppe Jarnit-Bjergsø, out of Denmark. They’re known for extreme concept-beers that often include unusual and sometimes comical ingredients. Imperial Doughnut Break is an 11.5% ABV Imperial Porter brewed with coffee, chocolate, and, brace yourself, insane amounts of doughnuts! Although the doughnut addition doesn’t add much in terms of aroma and flavor and mostly acts a gimmicky meta-ingredient, this is truly a breakfast beer for the ages. Big, sweet, roasted malts mingle with flavors of chocolate, vanilla, and bitter coffee. Delicious.
Mikkeller/Surly “Brett Mikkel’s IPA” – Hometown favorite Surly Brewing collaborated with Mikkeller, aka Mikkel Bjergsø, to create a batch of this unique twist on an IPA. Featuring some newly-bred German hop varietals, this aromatic brew is fermented with Brettanomyces yeast, which gives it a dry, funky, and slightly tropical character. Get it quick – there’s a limited supply of 750ml bottles in stock now.