Insight Brewing; an old friend in brewing

(Only English version this time).

During my trip to Las Vegas in early summer I had made an arrangement with Ilan Klages-Mundt, who I had met on a brewing day at Fanø Bryghus quite a while ago.

At that time, Ilan was new to brewing, had been biking around Europe and was embarking on a tour of work at various European breweries.

Ilan was also past Kolding Bryglaug and brewed with us.

The arrangement was that Ilan would send me a collection of beer from his new brewery; Insight Brewing Company.

“Photo by Aaron Davidson, courtesy The Growler Magazine”

And on the second-to-last morning a nice  box was waiting for me at my hotel!

In the box was a selection of Insight beers of which I’ll give the low-down on two.

Rowdy Uncle

A Moscow Mule Style Ale? Knowing nothing about what that is, I turned to Google. Apparently, a Moscow Mule is a vodka-based drink with lime and ginger. So this is a beer imitating the cocktail.

The beer is hazy pale yellow with a small, staying creamy white head. Aroma has citrus, quite a bit of zesty ginger and sweet malts.

Carbonation is soft and it has a fine dry and fairly creamy mouthfeel.

Flavour has sweet sugary malts, white pepper, light chili and a heavy dose of sweet/hot ginger. Lingering heavy hot and bitter finish with some lime peel.

It surely is a very interesting concept and I suspect that it mimics the cocktail nicely. But overall, it is a good thing that I like ginger ?.

Insight Brewing Rowdy Uncle gets: ???+ (of 6).

In the halls of the Sunken City

A saison with Sauvignon Blanc grapes really can’t go wrong as a concept. And this is a fine beer as expected.

It pours hazy yellow with a small, staying, frothy white head.

Aroma has sweet malts, slightly bready bite to it and grapes aplenty with a soft tartness to it.

Medium to low carbonation with quite fat and oily mouthfeel. Flavour has fine malts, good grape notes, an underlying fruity tartness and a refreshing bitterness. It is quite white wine-ish.

In the Halls of the Sunken City gets: ???? (of 6).

I also did a written interview with Ilan:

Can you tell me how Insight came about? Who are you (all) and how did you raise the funds?

Insight began as a thought back in 2007 after having tasted the ‘best beer in the world,’ the coveted Westvleteren 12. I tasted this beer in Denmark, of all places, and after that experience, I returned to the states and started reading text books, talking to brewers, and started home brewing.

My college professors at the time saw this passion I had for beer and asked me to apply for a fellowship through IBM that would pay for a graduate to travel around the world studying their passion for a year. I figured I had this locked up, as beer played such an important part in human history, so I took about a year and a half contacting breweries, farms, and festivals around the world in an effort to pull together this ‘year of beer.’

Once I had it all organized, I wrote my essays for the fellowship, became a finalist, and then lost. This hit hard for about an hour, before I realized that I was going to go on this trip regardless.

Ilan at Kolding Bryglaug 2013

I reached out to all of the breweries and asked if I could have a place to stay and a meal if I promised to work harder, and luckily they all said yes.

So in 2010 and 2011, I traveled to England, Japan, and Denmark brewing beer at the Fuller’s Brewery in England, Kiuchi Brewery in Japan, and Fano and Sogaard’s breweries in Denmark. I called the trip Bike for Beer and did a longer bike trip through Belgium and France afterwards visiting breweries and wineries before returning to the states to open up a business. Key parts of this trip: I left with $3,400 and returned with $91!! Scary!

Back in the states, I started business planning and met two partners along the way that also wanted to start a brewery. We met a lot of people with money, but they wanted too much of the business, so we ended up getting friends and family on board for much smaller increments and paired that with an SBA loan from the bank as well as a personal loan from the building owner to help cover renovations.

Early renovation at Insight, image from their Facebook page

The last part to come into place was our brand. We got lucky and were picked by a local marketing agency to be a company they would develop a brand for ‘for free’ so they could have creative freedom and enter their work into competitions.

They liked the story of world beer travel and developed what is now the Insight brand, which is a mythical brewmaster that travels the world always in search of the world’s finest beers. Our tagline is ‘We Craft Legends,’ and we actually travel around the world in real life to work with breweries to develop new recipes and ideas, all while bringing back local legends from each place to turn into our beer names.

For example, Troll Way was actually developed during my time in Denmark, and the Troll was derived from Scandinavian folklore.

Ilan brewing at Kolding Bryglaug in 2013

How large are you now?

40 employees. Distribution in most of Minnesota, only. Still growing double digits in the state and will stay put as long as that trend continues.

Company volume produced in 2018 are expected to be ~9,000 bbls.

Are you planning on a Danish distribution?

Should we? What package type and what beers do you think would do well in Denmark? (I suggested Viel Viel Mehr ?).

What’s up with the ‘drinks-beers’? Is that a global trend, you’re following or is it more local? (We’ve mostly seen the G&T versions here). And are they selling well?

We are the only supplier in Minnesota brewing these styles of beers, and we’ve had a very successful go at them for two years, now.

As cocktails continue to gain popularity, this is our way of brewing unique flavors and competing in a different industry.

Which beer are you most proud of?

Troll Way. Troll Way has been our #1 seller for most of the life of the business and continues growing at massive rates.

It’s a solid, balanced American IPA that stays refreshing while still packing a solid hop punch.

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