Brooks High brings a new take on Beer Battered Fish

Brett Drake and Pete Toft // Photo by Hunter Johnson

Brett Drake and Pete Toft // Photo by Hunter Johnson

It was a nail biter for Brett Drake and Pete Toft, but Brooks High Beer Battered hit their Kickstarter goal with roughly 24 hours to spare. With funding achieved, the next step is getting their craft beer-themed food truck up and running at taproom hotspots like Bauhaus Brew Labs and LynLake Brewery, which they aspire to do by mid-May.

Drake and Toft are seasoned veterans of the Midwestern fish fry, having spent seven years together at Tin Fish in Minneapolis mastering the trade. As their entrepreneurial spirits guided them to start a business, they reshaped the business plan into a food truck. “While the business started out as a pub we always had a huge focus on a rotating selection of local craft beer,” explains Drake, and that focus remains even though the medium has changed.

Food trucks are typically a one-theme enterprise, and they settled on the obvious: a fish fry truck that builds on the delectable and distinct flavors within Minnesota beers. To further tie into Minnesota culture, they will use walleye and locally sourced ingredients whenever possible (walleye, however, is illegal to sell commercially in Minnesota so that will come from outstate).

Replacing the light domestic beer used in traditional beer batters as means to ensure fluffiness, Brooks High beer batter will highlight craft beer’s distinct flavors. Drake and Toft built their recipes from the ground up, creating a batter from the lightest and the darkest beers from each partner brewery. “We really wanted to pay homage to the time, effort, and unique flavors that each brewer is placing into their beer,” Drake explains. “We set out to almost recreate the flavor profile and look of the beer in each batter.”

Light Battered Walleye Sandwich w_ Citrus, Green Apple Slaw

The first two brewery partnerships were forged outside of the taproom, through connections at an advertising agency that coincidentally employed Drake and some aspiring brewers who went on to open Bauhaus and LynLake. “It was a touch of fate,” Drake says. Bauhaus and LynLake signed on while Brooks High was in development. Once the batter ball was rolling picking up new partners has been easy—both Tin Whiskers and Fair State are also on board.

Craft breweries and food trucks are hot items in the Twin Cities right now, notes Peter Heidorn of LynLake. Even before LynLake opened their doors, he knew the pairing was a great idea because, he says, “Brooks High is an original take that unites both.” The truck will feed LynLake’s onsite customers and also serve as a vessel to spread word about the brewery.

How the business will work depends on the event. They are partnering to create “Batters-on-Tap,” or a set of batters for each brewing partner, which they are offering that particular day. When parked outside of a taproom, only batters from that brewery’s recipes will be “on tap.” It will complement the brewery, and also gives Brooks High patrons a unique experience at each stop. Brooks High will park at breweries, but they will also cater to the downtown crowd and other events. The goal is to appeal to every palate, regardless of beer preferences. “At the end of the day,” Drake explains, “we are serving modern takes on delicious Midwestern comfort foods that everyone can love.” They will also serve bacon mac ’n’ cheese, cheese curds, beer bread, and more.

Though not yet on wheels, Brooks High still has their eyes set on opening the brick-and-mortar pub a few years down the road. Eventually the two hope to pair batters with a beers on draft at the pub, which will likely include the partnerships they’ve already forged. Brooks High has put a lot of time and effort into modernizing Midwestern comfort foods, but they openly share the credit. “These brewmasters put so much time and love into these brews,” Drake says. “They are really the masterpieces.”

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Food photos by Pete Toft and Christian Korab

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