Episode 32: Food Trucker Ian Gray, a Preview of Hoops Brewing with Dave Hoops

Kind of a short show this week – we’re only running about 35 minutes, but we get a lot done. Buckle up!

I spoke with Ian Gray. Ian runs two Minneapolis food trucks, The Curious Goat and the Smoking Cow (intro). He, unlike many of the area’s food trucks, opts to park his truck at one spot for residency-type stays rather than one-night stands. He explained the pros and cons of that model. He also gave me a giant bowl of poutine, and tried listing everything he’s got in his truck while I took bites. He explained how he’s able to test out new foods, some things he’d like to try out in the future, and the reaction he often gets from customers when he runs out of food.

It’s not what you might think.

Dave Hoops is practically legend among Minnesota brewers, and, after nearly 17 years at the Fitgers Brewhouse in Duluth and over two decades in the industry as a whole, the opening of his very own brewery is close at hand (15:45). He let me know what you can expect at Hoops Brewing in Duluth’s Canal Park, and explained why he’s happy making the transition from a brewpub (where the brewery also sells food) to the traditional brewery model. He also gave his thoughts on today’s brewing industry, both locally and beyond, and what he and his brother talk about when they’re off the clock. His brother Mike is the head brewer at Minneapolis’ award-winning Town Hall Brewery.

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Dave Hoops said his new system at Hoops Brewing will make it “nearly impossible to make a bad beer.” He also praised the work ethic of Hoops’ head brewer, Melissa Rainville, calling her “all beer, all the time.” Hoops said he’s got no ambition to create a big distribution footprint – at Hoops, the focus is on keeping taproom-goers happy and putting the beer where it will be treated best.

Did you notice Ian Gray listing things in his truck for a minute and a half? I was busy with the poutine! It’s unbelievable, an immediate contender for Best Poutine in the Twin Cities. So thick with meat and melted cheese was it, I struggled to find the French fries — which is stupefying, considering his French fries double as melee weapons.

You can have them in the poutine, or you can have them on the side of a cheeseburger. Yeah, about that cheeseburger: it’s too wonderful to be served on a plate (it is Limousin, after all). This is a burger you eat off a rich leather surface. Befitting for the Curious Goat, this burger has the best-looking greens I’ve ever seen ride a beef patty.