Over the last five-plus years, the craft brewery movement has grown exponentially in Minnesota. The Associated Press says licensing records show two-thirds of Minnesota breweries have opened just since 2010. So, we decided to help you – and your livers – keep up with the taproom trend by stopping by some of these Twin Cities brewhouses. Next up: Nutmeg Brewhouse in Burnsville.
Beer enthusiasts living and visiting south of the metro area now have a new – and well-needed – option for craft brew: Nutmeg Brewhouse in Burnsville.
And according to its co-founder, MP Singh, a collective passion for IPAs brought it all together. The love for IPAs, after all, gave the brewhouse its unique twist on its food offerings: British colonial cuisine.
Not too long ago, Singh, who is a businessman with a CPA practice by day and homebrewer by night, met brewer David Jones while perusing beer resources online.
Jones, an Illinois resident, helped Singh refine his knowledge of IPAs, but also had another passion.
“He was more interested in reviving the 300 years ago when the IPA was born. When British ferried their beer around the globe, their beer used to go bad so they started hopping it up, and the IPA was born. And he was investigating some very real food pairings at the time,” Singh said.
Here’s a little description of some of the food options available:
“So, what we have right now, starting with England, you have fish and chips, we have cod, which we only buy Atlantic Cod. And then we have Scotch Eggs. So those are very British items,” he said. “And then you get into spare ribs done in southeast Asian-style. We have shrimp with is much more Malaysian tone. We have chicken tikka, which is very Indian classic. We have some Indian bread, like naan breads. Two flavors of those. We’re trying to get closer to more fermented meats, which were probably traveling over 300 years ago. It’s still a work in process.”
But what about the beer, you say? Well, they have four base styles as of now: a wheat beer, an amber ale, a porter and an IPA.
“With the IPA, we have two variations,” Singh said. “We have a colonial and the second one – and we want to go to more west coast – but the batch we have right now is more Midwest (laughs). (West coast style) is probably the next batch.”
Those beers, along with guest taps and other alcoholic options including wines from various British colonies, complete the drink menu.
So, after those early discussions with Jones, more business partners came into the picture: Diljit Singh and Balbir Singh (of neighboring India Palace) and Nutmeg was born, opening on Jan. 2, 2016.
For more on Nutmeg, read the interview with MP Singh below!
You guys opened pretty recently – so, how did it go?
We opened Jan. 2. So far it’s going well. We’re building it up from the product side. A lot of emphasis is on the product side right now. As we get better with the product, we’ll be pushing it on the marketing side as well. That’s the process.
So, could you give me a brief history of Nutmeg and how the concept came together? How did you decide on the location?
Sure, I’m one of the investors. I’ve worked for corporate America all my life … Public accounting, Target, some PE firms. For the last few years, I’ve had my own CPA practice in Uptown. So that’s my background.
I’m a homebrewer myself, so I met this individual online maybe 1 and half years ago – David Jones, who lived in Quincy, Illinois. He helped me learn about IPAs, but he was more interested in reviving the 300 years ago, when the IPA was born. When British ferried their beer around the globe, their beer used to go bad so they started hopping it up – and the IPA was born. And he was investigating some very real food pairings at the time.
And during that conversation, I told him that I have quite a few restaurant clients in my CPA practice. One of the guys I knew is a very good chef, Balbir Singh, and he ran the India Palace restaurant.
I became a kind of go-between with David and the chef. I said hey, this is probably the best pairing. It developed into a kind of friendship.
Jones said he’d swing by Minnesota and bring his beers and we’d go over the foods with the chef. So, that was the meeting that changed everything.
We loved his beers and he loved the recipes. So, we thought why not make anything out of it?
It’s a British colonial team born out of IPA. A passion for IPA got into British Colonial cuisine.
Then, we put some money together and started working on putting a microbrewery and kitchen together.
And the Nutmeg name came out of one of the spices. A fusion of beer and food. I’m not an artistic guy, I’m a numbers guy, but the symbol/logo of Nutmeg symbolizes beer rising.
How’d you decide on the location?
We looked at a few locations inside the cities … and then we had one of the investors had a location right next to India Palace. They were going to build a banquet hall or something, so they had some things ready and could work it into a brewery – a shorter runway to the end result.
Risk was a factor. We’re not in a prime location like in Uptown or Grand in St. Paul when we’re still learning about ourselves. So, we thought, let’s get this thing going and thinking about prime locations later.
Could you describe your big four beers you have on tap right now?
It starts with wheat, then amber ale, then we have a porter and then we have an IPA. With the IPA, we have two variations. We have a colonial and the second one – and we want to go to more west coast – the batch we have right now is more mid-west. (laughs) that’s probably the next batch.
Primarily these four base styles.
But what David does is takes one or two of them and does an infusion. He infused porter with chai tea. That was a good one. He infused wheat with orange in the infusion process, so it was a very interesting beer.
How about the other drink options? I hear you have a pretty hand-selected lineup of wines…
Yes, and they all tie to British Colonial styles. We have wines from British colonies like Australia and South Africa.
And our major crowd pleaser is our single malt scotches, we have flights of those and people love them. We’re trying to build to the concept.
What about guest beers?
Yup, we’ll have guest beers here and there on tap – from the local breweries only. Nothing else.
Some types of genres we want to stay out of. We have a full establishment and 50 percent of our revenue is coming out of our very good food selection, so heavier beer styles may discourage that consumption.
We’re trying to keep some guest taps, and they’ll be in the areas where we don’t have a plan just yet.
Lastly, what does the future have in store for Nutmeg?
We have three things going on right now. One is we just opened for lunch, and the lunch menu we’re trying to create – we want it to be very healthy. So, we’re creating some interesting salads, some lean proteins-based lunch options.
The growlers, we’ve talked with the city and they are, I believe, discusses it in there May meeting, and then they’ll let us know we’ll be able sell growlers. The reason we can’t right now is that growlers require standalone buildings – or free-standing buildings – to do that. And we share a wall, so it’s more like a strip mall. We can’t unless they change the zoning or ordinance or something. If they do that in May, we’ll be able to do that by the Fourth of July – and that’ll be our freedom as well from that legislation (laughs).
The third one we’re looking at is the next site. We’re adding some more fermenters soon. That’s something that came out of one of the conversations with the stat. The lady that came here to give us the license said, “Hey, you guys can produce 3,500 barrels a year.” And we looked at our demand and said, “Well, we can have a couple smaller locations without putting the breweries there.” We can take our beer from here, keg it … this is not a finalized plan, but it’s in the works.