Straight From the Source: Hayes Public House

A comprehensive look at Hayes Public House, a new brewery in Buffalo, Minnesota.

By Doug Hoverson

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Hayes Public House
112 First St. South, Buffalo, MN 55313

Residents of Buffalo, Minnesota are proud of their historic downtown on the shores of Buffalo Lake. In November 2013, they gained another attraction for the lakefront—Hayes Public House.

Andy “Pugs” Hayes is yet another Minnesota homebrewer to go pro, and when he was looking for a location, Buffalo seemed to have the right mix of available space and local encouragement. Several months later, their decision has been affirmed, as a mix of area residents and beer travelers meet three nights a week to enjoy Hayes’ ales. While the view from the street is standard strip mall, the inside is an inviting Celtic-themed pub built mostly by members of the Hayes family and their friends. Family and friends also do much of the serving and brewhouse work. The Pub does not serve food, but patrons are welcome to bring in their own and food trucks often park in the lot outside.

At first the offerings were classic British and Irish session styles, based on Pugs’ decision to “tread lightly at first and find out what people wanted.” Apparently, he guessed right since they ran out of beer after the first two weekends. Eventually he caught up and the Public House is now open Thursday evenings, as well as Fridays and Saturdays. After he settled in, Pugs added more adventurous beers, including a Wee Heavy that was well-received at Beer Dabbler Winter Carnival and an ale with peach pureé from one of his old homebrew recipes that was brewed in late March. During my March visit Pugs had an IPA that weighed in at 90 IBU and 7.7% ABV and a special treat for St. Patrick’s Day—a barrel-aged version of their Irish Red. This is not a common style to put in a barrel, since it is only 5.5% ABV. That makes it unlike the typical boozy barrel monsters. This batch spent just a month in an Elijah Craig 12-year barrel, enough to pick up notes of oak and vanilla that were noticeable but not so big that they overwhelmed the base beer. In general, Pugs likes to emphasize the malt character of his beers, and speaks with enthusiasm of the care taken to get the mash temperature just right for a lower-alcohol brew.

Initial business was so good that the brewing schedule had to be expanded to three or four days a week. Hayes wasn’t able to fill growlers for the first several months but started limited growler sales in April. The in-house volume has been consuming most of the production. For Pugs, this is just fine: “We love having people come in and enjoy the beer here.” That is, Straight From the Source.

Tasting Notes

O’Ruaidhri’s Red Ale (pronounced O’Rory)

Water: Buffalo city water, reverse osmosis filtered with some profile building

Grain:

Irish base malt

Caramel 120

Caramel 20

Roasted barley

Flaked barley

Hops: UK Goldings

Yeast: WLP 004 Irish Ale Yeast

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