New at 56Brewing: The Sustainably Brewed Solarama Crush

Save the bees, save the planet, and enjoy a limited-edition local beer while doing it
Solarama Crush American IPA is made with solar energy and local honey


Want to enjoy a local craft beer and support the environment at the same time? Northeast Minneapolis’ 56Brewing has released Solarama Crush, a double dry-hopped hazy American IPA made with honey harvested from bee apiaries on flowering solar farms and brewed completely with solar energy. It’s the first of its kind, borne of a collaboration between 56Brewing and nonprofit Fresh Energy. The honey is paired with Citra, Loral, Zeus, and Enigma hops for a noticeable grapefruit flavor followed by a classic bitter bite. It will be available through May at 56Brewing and while supplies last at craft beer stores where 56 beers are sold.

If you haven’t heard of a hazy IPA before, here’s a quick background: It’s a new category the Brewers Association added in 2018—Juicy or Hazy Ales in three styles. Hazy IPA, also called Northeast IPA, is an unfiltered IPA or Double IPA. Appearance ranges from slightly hazy or cloudy to opaque or muddy. Sometimes a technique called dry hopping is used, such as in Solarama Crush. Since the hops are not boiled in this process, they do not contribute to the beer’s bitterness but rather add hop flavor and aroma. The use of high-protein grains, certain yeast strains, and other techniques may also contribute to a beer’s haze and mouthfeel. These beers often have around 6 percent ABV, which can vary by brewer, and the goal is a hazy, juicy creation with fruity and floral flavors.

And where does the “56” in the brewery’s name come from? CEO/president Kale Johnson spent summers in a custom-built paddle boat that his dad made for him. The paddle wheel crank arm, utilized from an old cast iron part, has an identification number molded in it—56. As those memories held a special place in his heart 35 years later, 56Brewing was created in May 2015. The paddle wheel in the logo is a symbol of that original paddle wheel, and the boat sits just outside the entryway to the taproom.

Before you try the new brew yourself, hear what 56Brewing has to say about it.

Solar energy and local flowers for bees to source nectar go into making Solarama Crush.

Fresh Energy

What locally sourced ingredients did you use?

Solarama Crush—our creation with nonprofit Fresh Energy—features three important locally sourced ingredients that contribute to its unique flavor and mission. We worked with General Mills and Healthy Food Ingredients, Inc. to source hulls from the deep-rooted cereal grain called kernza—these were used to lighten the wort and prepare it for the honey. Bare Honey of Minnesota keeps hives on solar farms that are specifically managed to include acres of flowering meadows under and around the panels. And to power the whole process we added sunshine—Solar Renewable Energy Credits from one of Connexus Energy’s pollinator-friendly solar arrays. Energy is a valuable ingredient in our process!

How have you thought about clean energy and environmentalism outside of Solarama Crush?

In addition to celebrating clean energy and creating new acres of habitat for bees and wildlife, creating Solarama Crush has helped us think about our own energy use here in the brewery, as well as our supply chain. Driving innovation forward with a focus on sustainability aligns with our personal values, and makes us a stronger business.

Conservation and use of water is important as water, grains, hops and yeast are constant in our production; the challenge is continually looking at these areas as a whole, while taking small steps in each area for sustainability. We focus on water quality, local hops while selecting variety, and local farmers with consistent and quality grain. Barley grain and hops can be grown in our gardens adjacent to our brewery.

56Brewing Solarama Crush


What are some new brews planned after Solarama Crush is gone?

We have many styles we are creating until next year’s Solarama Crush is brewed. Just a few include: a dry-hopped tart sour ale, Fuzzi Lil’ Pucker, which is a peach tart sour ale; rotating lagers with different varietal hops; Midwest coast IPA using all Minnesota-grown hops; double dry hopped double ‘ssippi squeeze; a Pale ale using New Zealand hops; barrel-aged stout releases; milkshake IPAs; pastry stouts; blackberry and raspberry Berliner Weisse.

So, what can people visiting for the first time for a pint of Solarama expect at your brewery?

Total capacity is 250 that includes our new space, the Barrel Room. The patio has room for 40 and plenty of seating and games to relax in the sun or view the south facing large gardens. We have rotating delicious food trucks Wednesday through Saturday and a variety of occasional local pop-up food vendors such as donuts, ice-cream and waffles. We are also adding a permanent area in our taproom for Riffs BBQ and bacon, for consumption onsite or to-go. Personal food is always welcome, from pizza to birthday cakes. We are known for our friendly and open environment—and we are very dog friendly!

56Brewing is located at 3055 NE Columbia Ave., Suite 102, Minneapolis, MN 55418.

Mary Subialka is the editor of Real Food and Drinks magazines, covering the flavorful world of food, wine, and spirits. She rarely meets a chicken she doesn’t like, and hopes that her son, who used to eat beets and Indian food as a preschooler, will one day again think of real food as more than something you need to eat before dessert and be inspired by his younger brother, who is now into trying new foods.