Style: New England-style IPA
Special Notes: Beer bowl, bro.
Hops: Motueka, Strata
@untappd says: 4.27/5
Sometimes, you just need a cool brewery on the Windowsill!
I love when a brewery is good to its followers and fans. Back Channel Brewing Collective is one of the coolest breweries I have ever had the pleasure of interacting with on social media. It all started a week or two ago when, while perusing my Instagram feed, I ran into a post that featured a super delicious looking IPA… in a bowl. A bowl? Yeah. Straight up. Like a soup bowl.
I commented on the post, asking if the brewery distributed to CT, because the beer looked good and the bowl was kickass. I almost immediately got a DM from the company—actually by Josh Leddy, one of the owners and brewers—saying that they didn’t distribute to my area, but they wanted to send me something to try. How cool is that?
About a week later, the beer mail came. Not only did Josh and Back Channel send me a 24.5 oz crowler of their brand new Gonzo IPA—they only sell beer out of their taproom, and Minnesota state law says they can only sell in 750 ml or 64oz containers—I also got… THE BEER BOWL!
Before we get into the bowl, let’s chat a bit about the brewery itself. Back Channel was founded in 2016 by Josh Leddy, Melissa Leddy (yep, they’re married), Mark Makarem, Matt Olson and Joe Meehan. Their brewery, which sits on a back channel of Lake Minnetonka, opened its taps in 2017. Not only did the location inspire the name, but Josh Leddy told me the other meaning of the name. “Backchanneling is a secondary, or secretive, way to pass information around,” said Josh. “So all of our beer names are descriptions of famous Minnesotans, or people with significant ties to Minnesota.” Their beer names act as hints to the identity of the inspirations for the beer itself.
OK. So why, exactly, does Back Channel Brewing have beer bowls? Josh actually sent me some marketing copy about this. It seems the gang was on a beer trip in Asheville, NC, and they plum ran out of clean beer glasses. They had to use bowls. In doing so, they realized how having such a wide opening for your beer made the aromatics of their IPAs pop like never before. Also, the care it took to take that sip—two hands, nice and slow—also added to the experience of tasting the beer. Hence, the official beer bowl was born.
I suppose I should talk about the beer, right? The Gonzo is an IPA brewed with Motueka and Strata hops. Josh told me that the batch completely sold out in five days, making it the fastest beer ever to sell out through their taproom. Why is it called Gonzo? Well, the brewery never really reveals who has inspired the name of a particular beer, but I did get one hint: someone from Minnesota was very involved with Jim Henson’s Muppets. My guess? Jerry Juhl—head writer for the Muppets Show. and native of St. Paul. Whether I’m right or wrong, the Gonzo was pretty awesome. Think Julius from Tree House Brewing Company… in a bowl.
My final evaluation of this experience? Back Channel is awesome. The Gonzo is amazing. The bowl? Although it’s a kickass souvenir, and it totally does everything Back Channel says it does with the aromatics, I’m probably more likely to use it for soup over beer in the future. I just can’t commit both of my hands for drinking every beer I ever taste for the rest of my life, lol.
Still, though, I have to give it up to Josh and the rest of the Back Channel crew. Their beer is legit, and I hope I get to try them again some day.
Check this out on Instagram now for a video of me using the bowl! Be sure to follow Beers on Windowsills for more amazing craft beer!