Decibel Metal & Beer Fest Brewery Profile: Hammerheart Brewing Company

Hammerheart Brewing Company
Lino Lakes, MN

Start Date: 2013
Signature Metal Beer: Black Cascade Cascadian Dark Ale

The bands that will be performing at the upcoming Decibel Metal & Beer Fest are no doubt familiar to Decibel readers, but we wanted to shine a little light on the craft beer underground by spotlighting the breweries that will be pouring their beers at the festival. Next up is a chat with one of the few brewers who will also be performing at the festival, Hammerheart co-owner/brewer Austin Lunn of Panopticon.

What inspired you to bring the Nordic aesthetic to your brewery and how is that manifested in your beers?
[Co-owner] Nathaniel [Chapman] and I both have Scandinavian and Celtic heritage. It is an interest of ours both in aesthetic and history. I apprenticed at a Norwegian brewery and also take much inspiration from European beers and the Scandinavian craft brewing scene as well. Minnesota is full of people whose families emigrated from Scandinavia, including Nathaniel’s, so we felt it appropriate to explore that theme.

As one of the few brewers at Decibel’s Metal & Beer Fest who will actually perform, what’s your perspective on the crossover or connection between craft beer and metal.
The connection between my band and the brewery is something I have always tried to shy away from. I have done my best to separate the two, as far as my personal music projects go. Certainly, we draw inspiration from bands we love and bands who are friends of ours, but my band in particular hasn’t been a part of the equation. This is essentially the first merging of the two projects. As far as craft beer and metal goes, it makes sense to me that people who love obscure records would also enjoy obscure beer.

Smoke is a component in many of your beers. What inspired you to have that as a distinctive feature of your lineup?
Hammerheart is essentially a rauchbier [traditional German style of smoked beer] brewery. My favorite brewery of all time is Aecht Schlenkerla, so that is a massive influence. Also, the brewery I apprenticed at, Haand Bryggeriet, used a lot of smoked malt as well. I feel like smoked beers fit the aesthetic and palate of the north. There is a certain coziness to it, as well, which I find pleasing in the winter time.

What’s the most metal beer Hammerheart brews?
I’m not really sure how to answer that. Metal is a music style not a flavor. [Laughs] We have done beers inspired by bands we love and albums we love. But the main focus is on the beer. For us it is less about marketing and more like honoring things we love.

Why should attendees of first annual the Decibel Metal & Beer Fest seek out Hammerheart beers at the festival? Give Decibel readers your best pitch.
We don’t market or advertise, so that’s a tough question. All I can say is that we love to brew beer and we love the things that inspire us. We aren’t in it for money or any other reason than the enjoyment of working somewhere we like making beer we like. So as for a pitch, I got nothing.

Anything you’d like to add, any upcoming projects?
We are really looking forward to having beers with our friends at TRVE, Burial and Hydra [at the festival]. Also seeing Crypt Sermon live is going to a highlight of 2017 for me, personally.
As far as projects go, we have been doing some bottling runs and are always dreaming up new beers and attempting to improve our existing ones.

To get tickets to the Decibel Metal & Beer Fest,go here.