Surly creates rhubarb saison for 2015 Chipotle Cultivate Festival

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Surly’s Cultivate Farmhouse Ale couples traditional Belgian malts and Slovenian hops with Minnesota rhubarb and barley. The beer will be available exclusively at the Chipotle Cultivate Festival, Saturday, August 22, from 11am—7pm in Loring Park. // Photo by Aaron Davidson

Photos by Aaron Davidson
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“This year we went about as Minnesota as we could get,” says Surly head brewer Todd Haug of their Cultivate Farmhouse Ale // Photo by Aaron Davidson

For the second year, Surly Brewing Company has brewed a beer for the Chipotle Cultivate Festival in Minneapolis. Your one-and-only chance to taste it is Saturday, August 22, from 11am—7pm in Loring Park, but The Growler crew was lucky enough to get an exclusive first taste on Wednesday.

Last year, Surly’s Cultivate beer was bittered with dandelion greens. This year’s “Cultivate Farmhouse Ale” couples traditional Belgian malts and Slovenian hops with Minnesota rhubarb and barley.

“Washing all those dandelion greens was such a pain,” laughs Surly head brewer Todd Haug. “This year we went about as Minnesota as we could get. There’s a little barley grown in the state, it’s six-row barley, smaller kernels, higher yield per acre, high in protein, but not as easy to brew with. But that’s all that’s grown in Minnesota. It’s malted at Rahr. Then we started thinking about what was seasonal, and we wanted something tart. We ended up using 600 pounds of rhubarb.”

This is the first-ever Surly brew to utilize six-row barley. The aurora hops, which are also used in Surly Doomtree, contribute a sweet and floral aroma that melds nicely with the bubble gum esters from the Belgian yeast strain and higher-than-usual fermentation temperature. The rhubarb brings color, tannin, and tartness to the beer. The end result is dry and dangerously poundable at around 6-6.5% ABV.

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Samples of Surly’s Cultivate Farmhouse Ale are extracted from a tank at Surly’s original Brooklyn Center brewery // Photo by Aaron Davidson

“We overshot the gravity a little, but more importantly the ending gravity is low,” says Haug. “Most Belgian beers are really dry, and as a result, we didn’t have to use a ton of bittering hops since there isn’t much sugar left over.” The beer has substantial body, but finishes tart and refreshing. The rhubarb flavor comes on stronger as it warms.

Last year’s Cultivate Festival brought 23,000 people to Loring Park. Organizers are expecting closer to 30,000 this year, thanks to the meteoric rise of headliners Walk The Moon. Chipotle will be serving up chorizo tostadas, pork belly and barbacoa gorditas, and Southeast Asian items from their ShopHouse Kitchen concept that’s currently limited to D.C. and L.A.

The Minneapolis Cultivate Farmhouse Ale will be available for $6 in the Tasting Tent alongside offerings from nearly a dozen local brewers and vintners. Cultivate attendees can also enjoy cooking demonstrations from local chefs, and several different interactive experiences focused on sustainable food throughout the day. Admission for all events is free. More information about the event is available here.

John Garland About John Garland

John Garland is the Deputy Editor at the Growler Magazine. Find him on twitter (@johnpgarland) or in every coffee shop on West 7th Street.

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