Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Faribault welcomes F-town Brewing Company July 30, 2015

A logo on the taproom wall, which opens to a street-side patio. To the left in the photo, up the hill, is Central Avenue. That

The taproom, right, opens to a street-side fenced patio. To the left, up the hill, lies Central Avenue, the main street through Faribault’s historic business district. F-Town encourages patrons to order carry-out at local restaurants and bring the food to the brewery to enjoy with beer.

ONE OF MINNESOTA’S newest craft breweries, F-Town Brewing Company, has opened in the heart of historic downtown Faribault, in a community with a rich beer history. The Fleckenstein family brewed Fleck’s beer and other beverages here for 108 years, until 1964.

An overview of the Peterson building which houses architectural salvage and antiques, left, with the brewery on the left.

An overview of the Peterson Art Furniture building which houses architectural salvage and antiques, right, with the brewery on the left.

Now locals Noah Strouth, Chris Voegele and Travis Temke have brought beer back to Faribault, housing their operation in a section of the aged Peterson Art Furniture Co. complex with the taproom in an adjoining converted garage space.

We wanted to sample all of the beers on tap, so we ordered a flight.

A snippet photo of the F-Town flight staged on the brewery’s signature orange picnic table.

F-Town has proven a popular gathering spot for craft beer lovers since opening about a month ago. Saturday evening my husband and I stopped by for the first time, purposely allowing the initial hoopla to settle. We ordered a $12 flight—a sampling of six beers ranging from the FlexLess light lager to the robust Nutso which tasted of coffee to me.

The beers included in our flight.

The beers included in our flight.

I was hard-pressed to choose a favorite. But Randy picked FlexLess without a second thought. He found it the most similar to mass-produced beers, which can be a good thing or not, depending on the type of beer you like. He prefers a less hoppy taste. I wondered about that name, FlexLess, and the similarity to the historic Fleck’s name. The founders of F-Town early on hoped to bottle Fleck’s branded beer at a brewery they initially named Patriot’s Brewing. That all changed following legal and trademark issues.

A block from F-Town, you'll find a mural honoring Fleck's beer.

A block from F-Town, you’ll find a mural honoring Fleck’s beer, once brewed in Faribault.

Eventually, the brewery became F-Town with beers bearing monikers like #1 American (there’s that patriotism), Ipalicious (an IPA) and We’ve Gone Plaid (a Scottish ale). The beers (only Ipalicious and Nutso at this point) are sold in cans, not bottles, a disappointment since I think craft beer should be bottled. But my son-in-law noted that cans are becoming a more common choice for craft breweries, including at the wildly popular Surly Brewing Co. I have yet to purchase F-Town beer off-sale as the one time I tried, the liquor store was sold out. The beer is being distributed only locally, for now, by College City Beverage.

In this photo, you see the door into the taproom and the patio.

In this photo, you see the door into the taproom and then the patio.

About that brewery name. I’ve heard mixed reviews. Some dislike that the “f-word” pops into your head upon hearing F-Town. But, on the positive side, the name is short and memorable and connects to the town name, Faribault with an “F,”  and purposely or not to the long-ago Fleckenstein breweries, also with an “F,” at least in my mind.

The taps.

The taps.

F-Town's IPA beer, Ipalicious.

F-Town’s IPA beer, Ipalicious.

I’ll admit, though, I’m not impressed by the wild-faced creature graphics for the Ipalicious and Nutso beers, the two F-Town beers currently canned and retailed. I was expecting art and beer names reflective of our historic community, local heritage, geographic setting and/or even the historic former furniture building in which the brewery is housed. I’m sure much thought was put in to both. But I am not making the strong connection to Faribault with the choices. I hope that changes.

Here's where the beer is made, just down the steps from the taproom.

Here’s where the beer is made, just down the steps from the taproom.

Words matter. A guy drinking beer next to my husband and me at F-Town pegged us as “beer hippies,” folks who apparently wander about checking out craft breweries. We’re not hippie anything other than coming of age in the early 1970s. He assessed us as such after I asked if he’d been to Montgomery Brewing in neighboring Montgomery. He hasn’t. We haven’t. We’ve only ever visited August Schell Brewing Company in New Ulm. And now F-Town, new on the Minnesota craft brewery scene and right here in the heart of historic Faribault.

Except for the sidewalk flag, there's no identifying  exterior street-side signage on F-Town Brewing. It's needed and perhaps it's coming. The garage doors are opened, if the weather is nice, when the taproom is open.

Except for the sidewalk flag, there’s no identifying exterior street-side signage on F-Town Brewing. It’s needed. Perhaps it’s coming.

FYI: The F-Town Brewing Company taproom is open from 3 p.m. – 9 p.m. Wednesdays and Thursdays; from 3 p.m. – 10 p.m. Fridays; from noon to 10 p.m. Saturday; and from noon to 3 p.m. Sunday. It’s closed Mondays and Tuesdays. Tours are available at 3 p.m. Thursday and 1 p.m. Saturday.

The brewery is located at 22 Fourth Street Northeast/Minnesota State Highway 60, just half a block off Central Avenue.

BONUS PHOTOS:

The scene at eye level of the historic Peterson Art Furniture. Plan time to explore this multi-level complex stuffed with antiques and collectibles and architectural salvage.

This is an eye level scene of the Peterson Art Furniture Company building from the F-Town patio. Therein you will find 25,000 square feet of antiques and collectibles, architectural salvage, lighting, furniture and more. Plan time to explore this multi-level complex. Faribault has a rich history of furniture makers.

Another perspective of our flight.

Another perspective of our flight.

When you're sipping on the patio, don't miss this mural of iceskaters on the Straight River.

When you’re sipping on the patio, don’t miss this mural of iceskaters on the Straight River.

© Copyright 2015 Audrey Kletscher Helbling