I play music for my beer overnight … I might put on some 90s rap jams or, you know, last night I wanted to get a little bit mellow, so I put on some Sade. Thought: when you play lullabies for the beer you’re brewing before you lock up at night, are you even leaving the office? These days, Joel Carlson puts every ounce of his energy into LynLake Brewery. Crafting vibrant,Peach Smoked Ambers, helping polish the brand and logo, and bumpin’ Biggie, his influence seems to permeate what was once the old LynLake Theater.
Seven years ago, looking to turn a college passion for home brewing into a career, Joel quit his job in waste water management, and became an assistant brewer at Great Waters Brewing Co. in St. Paul. There, Bob DuVernois helped him absorb everything he could about brewing on a larger scale, and set him up to run BoatHouse Brew Pub in Ely, MN. “In Ely, my compensation was lodging … I had a little apartment above the brewery, which was hilarious … I’d leave work at night, but I’d still hear all the shenanigans and the jukebox in the bar below.”
As the only brewery employee at BoatHouse, Joel truly ran the show. “Everything from recipe design, to physical work, to kegging fell on me. I was so involved that 16 hour days just felt like nothing.” While he found himself investing much of his time navigating the logistics of the trade, Joel also had the pleasure of watching his beer creep into the town’s culture. At that time, making craft beer in Ely represented a bit of an affront to more traditional taste buds.
"You mean … you don’t have any domestics…?"
“I’d meet people who would say that they didn’t like beer, and I’d get them to try a nice oatmeal stout, or something with sweet caramel flavors … to watch that spark go off… it was pretty cool.”
Chatting with Joel over a Rye Guy, I’m certain that when he left Ely in 2011, he did his best to pack up all of this knowledge and playfulness, and infuse it into his next two ventures, Town Hall Brewery, and LynLake. For three years at Town Hall, Joel mentions, "I really refined my ability to crank out consistent beer options, and worked alongside some great brewing staff." Ultimately, he attributes his role as head brewer at Lynlake to passion, knowledgeable mentors, and dedicated co-workers.
These days, the amount of energy Joel gives to LynLake seems propelled by a love for the craft brew scene that helped to develop him, and an attachment to Minneapolis. “Justin, Lee and I really just want people to come here to experience the beer, and just feel the energy of the LynLake neighborhood. We wanna hold onto what LynLake establishments once were, or have been. It’s a little gritty… a little laidback.”
With their eyes set on becoming a go-to, neighborhood taproom, Joel and the rest of the LynLake team have integrated local businesses into their own plans. Need something to nibble on while you’re sipping that Take 6 IPA? Call up one of their partners, Taco Cat or Galactic Pizza, for a bite. “To kick things off, we just wanted to keep it simple, so we picked four neighborhood businesses that would help us meet that demand of quick, kick-ass food.” Joel said.
With a ton of great, small TC breweries to look to for inspiration and learn from, the LynLake team can't wait to show off their stuff at a few upcoming beer events. You can catch them at Winterfest or at the St. Paul Beer Dabbler this Saturday.
Anticipating these upcoming events, Joel notes, "Right now, we're really paying attention to our beer and to beers at other tap rooms. We wanna make our beer taste how we think it should taste, and we're not taking any short cuts ... Most importantly, we're looking to put all of our energy and effort into it."
If you haven't already, stop in and see what Joel and his team are all about. Most people consume beer. These guys seem pretty happy to let it consume them.