Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

If only Jesse James had been a beer farmer September 8, 2011

Another craft beer, James-Younger 1876 Rye Ale, made right here in Minnesota honors the defeat of the James-Younger Gang during an 1876 bank robbery in Northfield.

CRAFT BEER LOVERS, here’s a new beer for you, James-Younger 1876 Rye Ale, a limited-edition beer selling this week during Northfield’s annual Defeat of Jesse James Days. Proceeds from beer sales will benefit the Northfield Historical Society.

Now I’m no beer connoisseur, but my husband and I like to try specialty beers such as James-Younger. He bought a six-pack a few weeks ago at Firehouse Liquor in Dundas. While this rye ale doesn’t suit our homogenized taste buds, I’m certain it will appeal to plenty of other folks.

That all said, if you pick up some James-Younger ale, I want you to turn the bottle on its side and read the small print: “Brewed and bottled for Bank Beer Co. by Brau Brothers Brewing Co. LLC. Lucan, MN

OK, then, about Lucan—it’s a town of 220 residents in Redwood County in southwestern Minnesota and about five miles from the farm where I grew up. I think it would be accurate to say that Brau Brothers Brewing has put Lucan on the map with its award-winning beers.

As for the Braus, they are three brothers and a Dad who produce craft beers like Ring Neck Braun Ale, Moo Joos, Hundred Yard Dash and my personal favorite, Strawberry Wheat.

Since I’m not too knowledgeable about beer stuff, I emailed Brau Brothers CEO and brewer Dustin Brau to inquire about the James-Younger ale. His family-owned business brewed the beer and co-packaged it for Bank Beer Company, a contract brewery based in Hendricks. That town of 725 lies even further west, in Lincoln County only miles from the South Dakota border.

Anyway, Dustin credits Jason Markkula at Bank Beer for the idea, recipe, marketing and distribution of the James-Younger ale. Brau Brothers brewed and bottled the beer.

And because Dustin clearly knows beer, I asked him to describe James-Younger 1876 Rye Ale: “Basically, a rye pale ale. Not crazy hoppy, but just enough. The spice from the rye comes through a bit, reminiscent of pepper.”

As for the rye, well, it comes right from the Brau Brothers’ fields. And, if you check the company’s Facebook page, you’ll read that the Braus tag this growing and harvesting of rye as “beer farming.” You just have to appreciate brewers who think that way.

Cheers!

FYI: You won’t find James-Younger 1876 Rye Ale just anywhere. Look for it in limited supplies in the Northfield area during the Defeat of Jesse James Days, which continues through Sunday.

 

4 Responses to “If only Jesse James had been a beer farmer”

  1. ceciliag Says:

    Poor jesse james.. he was probably a nice fella who needed a good hug and a home cooked dinner! can’t buy his beer here tho.(sad face) c

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      Everyone could use a hug and a home-cooked dinner.

      So…, you can’t buy your beer where you live. Where would that be?

  2. Deb Praus Says:

    Sold out….in cases, but you can still get it in the local bars and the Entertainment Center this weekend! Only in Northfield, of course!

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      Deb, I just checked with Firehouse Liquor in Dundas at 8:30 a.m. Friday. The store has seven cases of James-Younger 1876 Rye Ale remaining. So it is not sold out, at least not in Dundas. Perhaps at the Northfield Muni. I don’t know the source of your misinformation.

      Firehouse Liquor told me they started with 20 cases.

      When the remaining seven are sold, that’s it. No more James-Younger Rye Ale at Firehouse Liquor.


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