Sunday, July 29, 2007

Random Encounters

Kris and I decided to check out the newly opened Buster's on 28th in South Mpls. (42nd Street and 28th Avenue) yesterday. The reviews we'd read from its opening on the 24th were pretty much spot on (good food, great beer menu but many selections aren't quite available yet, very new servers still learning their jobs - kind of what you'd expect from a place just opening up). Overall, we had an enjoyable time, although I think we drove our server crazy with questions to which she did not know the answer and had to run inside and research.

Anyway, we grabbed a table for the two of us just outside the front door. Little did we know, but this table seemed to attract all the patrons that wanted to step outside for a smoke. They come out, grab our chairs, light up, and set their drinks on our table. Normally this would irritate the hell out of me, but I was a bit cheerful from the beer. So, rather than ignoring them or telling them to buzz off, we invited them to join us. All in all, this lead to some interesting conversations with a number of folks who live near Buster's and have done so for many years. One fellow was even kind enough to point out the local "crackhead" as she stomped and danced her way past us on the sidewalk. You don't get this kind of local color without chatting up the locals.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

The Dog Days of Summer- Drink Some Dog

Last weekend, on our way to a night of games with friends, we stopped by our local Cellar’s in Eagan. As always we got some great information from the guys that work there as we were selecting our poison for the night. Mag and I each selected a new one to try, both of which happened to be made by Flying Dog. Mag’s choice was Double Dog Double Pale Ale (only in a 4 pack) and I chose Road Dog, a Scottish Porter. Double Dog is a big beer, coming in at 85 IBUs and 10.5% ABV. Take time and slowly enjoy this big, full beer. Road Dog is more along the lines of your standard beer in alcohol content however the label has a great little slogan “Good Beer No Shit.” Yep, somehow these lucky Dogs slipped “shit” by the label Nazi’s that usually catch things like this. Both are great beers worth picking up next time you need some Dog.


Sunday, July 22, 2007

Homework or Homehobby?

I'm taking a Corporate Venturing class at the UofM as part of my MBA. My CV group decided to propose, as our class project, a venture for Boston Beer Company, makers of Sam Adams. I'm not terribly stoked about the venture we decided upon (essentially a distribution agreement b/n Boston Beer and Anheuser-Busch), but it'll work. In any event, I am rather proud of my novice artist, presented for the very first time...*drum roll*

...and yet another masterpiece.

I don't know that we'll get an A, but we'll at least go down with style.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Unemployed Never Tasted So Good

Well, okay, technically I'm not unemployed since I'm still on someone's payroll and won't really have any days where I'm not on someone's payroll before I start my new gig, but it's fun to say I'm unemployed. If I hadn't expanded my waistline to the point where my pants don't fit during our trip to Chicago, I'd probably be more inclined to spend my week off between jobs in a pickled stupor at my local favorites. As it is, it's 5 P.M. on my first day off and I'm only now having my first beer. For shame.

Our local Cellars continues to do a great job in carrying interesting craft beers. The other day I picked up three six packs from a joint I'd never heard of before, nor seen in MN - Barley Island in Noblesville, Indiana. The brews I bought were Dirty Helen Brown, Blind Tiger Pale, and Bar Fly IPA. I had the Helen and the Tiger on Saturday, but frankly I was a bit toasted by then and don't really recall if I enjoyed them. I'll have to rectify that. The IPA is pretty damn good. It's got tons of bitter hop flavor and sufficient aroma to not disappoint. It's a bit on the bitter side in the after taste though (duh, no sh!t sherlock).

And oh yeah, New Belgium is now available in MN once again. Yippie! I don't care much for Fat Tire, but I do enjoy several of their other beers.

Finally, I did try the new Miller product, Chill or Chelada or whatever the hell it's called. It was pretty good. I'd certainly drink one of these green beasts before any other Miller beers. Anyway, it's worth checking out - especially since it isn't being rammed down our throats by Miller's marketing least not yet anyway.

Monday, July 9, 2007

1st 100 down, hundreds more to go

Our recent trip to Chicago put me over the 100 mark for breweries and brewpubs I have had the pleasure (mostly) of visiting. And as with many beer focused trips this one had its highs and lows although it seemed to be more about the extremes than most. Lunar Brewing in Villa Park and Goose Island’s Clybourn Pub in Chicago were the highlights of the trip as far as I was concerned, with Govnor’s Public House taking the cake for lowlight. While their website and the sign outside their establishment both advertised that they were open at 11 AM daily apparently that doesn’t include the 4th of July. So although it seemed our intended first stop of the trip had started us off on the wrong foot, in fact it led us right over to Emmet’s Tavern in West Dundee which turned out to be a great place to begin our five day drinking/Tiki excursion of the greater Chicago area.

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Chicago...the, Windy City

The McGerik's, Kris, and I just got back from a whirlwind trip to Chicagoland to attend a Tiki event, Exotica, and sample as many beers as our livers would allow at the area's many fine breweries and brewpubs. In five days we hit 9 breweries/brewpubs and three different beer bars. Now, considering two of the five days were spent driving to and from Chicago, that's not a bad count. The breweries we hit, in order, were Emmett's Ale House (West Dundee), Piece (Chicago), Taylor Brewing (Lombard), Two Brother's (Warrenville), Lunar (Villa Park), Goose Island (Chicago - Clybourn location), Mickey Finn's Brewery (Libertyville), Flatlanders (Lincolnshire), and Moosejaw (Wisconsin Dells, WI). The beer bars we hit, which were highly recommended to us by "those in the know" were The Map Room (Chicago), Clark Street Ale House (Chicago), and Firkins (Libertyville). Highlights and lowlights of each:
  • Emmett's Ale House: All-around great place for a beer and a meal. Friendly staff and nice joint. The brewmaster, I think his name was Ryan, actually did some of his novice work at Town Hall. We also hit Emmett's in Downer's Grove, but I recommend going to the West Dundee location as I think it was the first.
  • Piece: The service was a little slow (I guess the place WAS hopping) and the beer was very flavorful and pretty good. I didn't find any session beers, though, and they were out of some of the beers I thought I'd enjoy most. The 'za was pretty damn good too. Worth the visit.
  • Taylor Brewing: Meh. They charged $10 for a f%#king pint class and seemed their brewing focus seemed designed to please your Miller crowd. Overall, if you're driving by, hungry and thirsty, and you happen to be driving down the right side of the street...well, you decide for yourself.
  • Two Brothers: This was a brewery in a light industrial building. We couldn't get a tour and they didn't do any tastings. By and large, they seemed put out by our visit. They sent us to a local bar, John's (great place, by the way), to taste some of their beers. We all enjoyed most of the Two Brothers that we had at John's and other places. They definitely do a great job making interesting and tasty beers. That being said, unless you need a souveniour, don't bother stopping in. Find a nice bar to knuckle-down at.
  • Lunar Brewing: This may have been the highlight of the trip. The place probably falls into the dive bar category, which adds to the allure. The bartender was very friendly and helpful and there wasn't one beer there that we didn't enjoy. Lunar is worth going out of your way to visit.
  • Goose Island: I had my expectations set low and I was proved very wrong. We visited the brewpub on Clybourn. All in all, great beers, great food, friendly staff, and nice atmosphere. Unfortunately, this was the last place we hit on 7/5, so we were a bit beered out and didn't sample the full offering, but we had enough... A must see.
  • Mickey Finn's: When we first got here, we let out a collective groan due to the service, but our server ended up doing a fine job and we were surprised by the quality of the beer and food. Worth visiting.
  • Flatlanders: We got a tour of the brewpub from Art, the friendly brewmaster who went out of his way to make us feel welcome. Flatlanders was surprisingly large and looked to be a newer establishment. Art does a pretty good job with the beer and had a well-rounded selection (from grand cru to dunkel to stout).
  • Moosejaw: We decided to hit Moosejaw on our way back from Chi-town although we were all a bit leery given that it's located smack-dab in the heart of breeder country in Wisconsin Dells. Needless to say, we set our expectations low. We were wrong. They carried a large and varied selection of beers, most of which were pretty damn good. We also learned that the brewmaster is a woman. This is the first place we've been to where the brewmaster was female. We were also informed that this is the only such brewery/brewpub in WI where this is the case. Right on. Well worth the stop.

As an aside, The Map Room, Clark Street Ale House, and Firkin are all great beer bars, both in terms of selection/quality and atmosphere and worth checking out, although Firkin is the only place with a menu.

All in all, the trip was a lot of fun. Kris and I got our first taste of Tiki. I was happy to find that the Tiki crowd is just as geeky and friendly as the beer crowd with which I'm already familiar. Good folk. Anywho...this is too much already.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Sunday beer

Sunday was a perfect summer Minnesota day, made even better with some great Minnesota beer. We met some friends for lunch, finally making it to Great Waters’ Sunday special “Kegs, Pegs and Eggs.” Although we skipped the pegs (Cribbage) this time the kegs and eggs were worth coming back for, especially if the weather is cooperative and you can sit out on their patio. As part of this special bloody marys, screwdrivers and all beers can be had for just $2 each and they have a rotating egg special for just $4.95. I started off with their Hand Grenade IPA on cask which is a hoppy but smooth IPA with that creamy head you can only get from a cask beer. I jumped on ordering the egg special when our server, Molly, told me it was a fried egg sandwich with bacon and choice of cheese accompanied by Tator Tots. No one else at our table joined me in ordering the special but that was their loss. The egg was perfectly fried with a runny center and the brie I chose complimented the sandwich wonderfully. The Tator Tots were so good that one of our friends ended up ordering a side of them to accompany her pasta dish. After a tasty meal and coming highly recommended from Molly, I decided to give their version of a bloody mary a try. While it wasn’t the best bloody mary I’ve ever had I’ll have to admit it was pretty darn good and for $2, I’d order it again. My only criticism would be that they needed to add more edible goodies to it…there was only one large green olive and one pepperconi. While we had seriously considered spending the rest of the day on their patio we decided there were a few things that actually did need to get done so mid-afternoon we reluctantly drug ourselves away and headed home to be productive.
With an amazing amount of restraint we did manage to be spend a couple of hours getting some needed things done although in the back of our minds we were already thinking about returning to the joy of sitting outside having a few more beers. We must have been putting off some pretty good “let’s drink” vibes because within 10 minutes of concluding our productiveness for the day the phone rang and another set of friends called, inviting us to join them at Town Hall. Without hesitation we agreed, quickly fed the dog her dinner and hopped in the car. I had to start off with their cask Centennial IPA as the last time we were there that was the next beer that was going to be released. I’m glad I was able to have some before it was gone as this is one good beer! Our server was wearing one of the special shirts they had printed to coincide with the release and I nearly bought one. Still might have to check out their website to see if I can order one as they are quite cute and appear to have been ordered in women’s sizes as well so I won’t be swimming in even the smallest men’s size. Dinner for me ended up being the hummus pizza from their appetizer menu. I’ve had this before and it was as good or better than I remembered. I’m sure they make their own hummus and it’s a wonderfully garlicky version. Along with that I had their other IPA on cask. It seems to me this is one of their standard beers on tap and equally as good as the Centennial although the two are noticeably different. All in all it was a great end to the week and a nice primer for the upcoming trip to Chicago on Wednesday that will no doubt involve plenty of beer.