Thursday, June 26, 2008

Sheesh - Hey Sconie! Can I Come Over?

I was mostly through pounding out a long, mean rant regarding the following article in today's Star Tribune, but I decided to delete it and remain silent. Read the article. It really embarrasses me. I'm generally proud to be a Minnesotan, but sometimes I want to crawl to our Eastern border to beg to be let in. sheesh

"Bar Fight Brewing Over $2,500 Minneapolis, St. Paul Intend to Charge"

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Good beer and a beautiful day

It took both of us to accomplish “sunburny and drunky” but we did it. Wanna guess which of us got the sunburn?

As anticipated we had a great time at the 2nd Annual Surly Open, although one thing would have made it better. And that would have been if the Three Rivers Park District hadn’t had their beer Nazis working who allowed only one beer to be bought per person. That made it really hard to do my beer wenching duties properly however I did manage to carry Kat and my four beers around for a few holes. (Apparently selling one person one beer three minutes after the last one they bought wasn’t a problem…just don’t try to buy one for a friend.)

We got there earlier this year than last and were rewarded by finding that Surly had brought Coffee Bender, as well as CynicAle, for the morning group. Once the Coffee Bender was out, on went Furious. I don’t know if they ended up replacing Cynic with anything since as long as there was Furious to be had I didn’t look any further. Needless to say I found something yummy to fill my glass (I should say glasses since even though I requested they refill my used plastic glass that was apparently another no-no…gotta keep the plastic manufacturers busy!) all day long.

Eric did end up joining Kat, Scott, Mag and me along with his friend, Darren. So the six of us, along with some random guy that got there 1 ½ hours late, spent a beautiful day outside enjoying great beer. And to round out the day, a stop on the way home at Taco Hell…mmmmmm!

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Gunna get me sunburny and drunky

Ahoyhoy! Today is the 2nd Annual Surly Walk-Up-Some-Big-Friggen-Hills-and-Sweat-Alot Open dealio! We had a blast last year and I'm sure we will again this year. I'm just wondering how many folks are gonna wander away from the disc golf an hour into it to drink beer in the chalet. I can pretty much guarantee my wife will and I think Scott will. Kat's a trooper, so I don't think she will. Me? Well, we'll see. Our five-some is rounded out by the ever-bearded lobbyist, Eric, who was supposed to join us last year, but we never hooked up. Instead, we played with a fellow we named Drunk Dave. Dave was flying solo and asked to join us. We had a blast, although his l33t disc golf skills put ours to shame. Of course, I ended up driving him home as he had a wee bit too much. Now we'll see if Eric can fill the void that Drunk Dave left. Dave was tall, skinny, bearded and a Sconie. Eric is skinny and bearded. So far he's batting .500. But I think he can hold his beer. Hell, he can hold mine too while I'm tossing.

Here's a pic from last year. Using my uber technology skills, I've blotted out the faces of the innocent and added a moustache to myself to make me look cool. This is incontravertable proof that the event is a good time. I mean, where else can you stuff bills into a stranger's cleveage and no one thinks it odd? Well, aside from gentlemens clubs... Bring lots of ones.

Kris and I elected to not go to the National Brewfest in Mankato (6/21 and 6/22) We'd gone the first two years of the event and felt we could take a guilt-free break this year. As far as beer fests go, I'd rate it a bit lower on the scale. The beer selection is so-so and it seems like the focus is on the music and not on the beer. But if anyone is sitting around with nothing to do today, check it out.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Gone Downhill

No, we didn’t go downhill yet…we’re leaving that for Saturday over at Highland. Instead, I’m sad to say that after a visit to Old Chicago in Eagan last night both their food offerings and beer selection have gone downhill. Being a beautiful evening we decided finding a place to sit outside, have a couple beers and dinner would be a good idea. However neither of us was particularly motivated and even the thought of driving up to Town Hall, much less Barley John’s, was too daunting. So we surveyed the nearby options, settling on Old Chicago. Although their patio is small and the scenery isn’t great we’ve always been able to get a seat out there and last night was no exception.

Upon perusing the food menu we noticed that they seemed to have cut out a lot of items and there wasn’t much that caught our attention. We ordered the quesadilla and Italian nachos, both off the appetizer section, and I’m happy to say they were both good. The nacho chips themselves instead of being the sturdy corn tortilla variety are lighter and possibly made from wonton wrapper material. Light, crispy and a great accompaniment to the sausage, pepperoni and pepperoncini!

The beer menu was disappointing both from a micro beer selection stand point as well as from the area where they seem to be trying to highlight certain beers. For example, the had a macro product that starts with a "M" listed as the MN beer of the month and another domestic macro listed as the import of the month. Unlike in the past there was little, if anything, that I had not had before (and would actually want to drink). In the end we both ordered a Bell’s Oberon. Although it was served with an orange wedge that was easily remedied and the 25 oz went down well on a warm, summer evening so all was not lost.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Minneapolis Sunday

After getting a few necessary things done Sunday morning we headed out to Herkimer to give them another try now that there is a new brewer in place. We seated ourselves out on their patio (as the sign instructed) and waited and waited and waited for a server to arrive. Since it didn’t seem like that was going to happen anytime soon Mag went in and ordered beers directly from the bartender. I’m not a big German beer fan so the majority of their lineup didn’t interest me so I went with the Alt. Mag ordered their Toolers Weiss, which had far too much clove aroma for me to even sip, but he liked. Both beers had nice flavors and thankfully none of the sulfur qualities that seemed to be present in many of the beers in the past. Although I could have been persuaded to hang around for another Alt the bad service prompted us to move on.

Many a times we’ve talked about going to Bryant Lake Bowl but up until today just never made it over there. I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect, other than maybe it being a little bigger, but overall it’s a place I’d return to. The tap selection is nice and varied, the menu looked pretty good (although we didn’t order food) and the staff was friendly. They even helped us as we tried to pin down the name and location of our next stop, Merlins Rest. In fact, the woman who knew the place we were looking for had the location dead on- 36th and E Lake.

So into the car, out of Uptown and down Lake we found Merlins Rest. I can’t recall exactly who had mentioned this place and we didn’t know much about it other than it’s an expatriate bar. Not surprisingly for a beautiful Sunday afternoon the place was pretty quiet. The majority of their taps are imports with the two local beers represented being Summit EPA and Finnegan’s Amber. While it’s no craft beer bar the selection is good, there are no TVs to be seen (although at least 5 video cameras from our vantage point) and the bartenders were friendly. It seems like it could be a cozy, friendly place to spend some time in on a winter’s day.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Great Waters Saturday

After a stop at the St. Paul Farmers Market to load up on locally produced cheese, meat and incredibly fresh produce we stopped in at Great Waters for a few pints and lunch. Since it was a relatively nice day we opted to sit on the patio. Seeing that they still had RyePA on tap I dove in there first (and second). Figuring it would be a waste to be there and just have one of their beers I finished with the ever enjoyable standby, St. Peter Pale Ale. Mag moved around the board a bit more and among others, ordered their most newly tapped beer, the Cywren Saison. I’m not much of a Saison fan in general but couldn’t resist trying it and was pleasantly surprised. There wasn’t so much of a Belgian flavor to turn me off and the mouth feel…well, really it was like drinking velvet. Before heading home we settled on a growler of the RyePA for future enjoyment.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Town Hall Thursday

Last night Mag and I went to Town Hall for dinner and of course, a few beers. I had been eager to go and have their Milk Porter before the rest of the locals drank it all. Since Mag ordered first, the porter and I didn’t want to look like a copy cat, I chose the 1800 English IPA. The cascade on the porter was amazing, almost mesmerizing! The flavor lived up to my hopes with the wonderful smooth mouth feel the “milks” typically have. However tonight I guess I just wasn’t in the mood for the smoothness of the porter and instead preferred the 1800 by far. I vaguely recall drinking it last year but there have been a lot of beers consumed between now and then so I had forgotten just how nice it was.

Reluctantly my next pint (goblet actually) was the Mango Mama. I say reluctantly because I was so enjoying the 1800 but knowing how quickly the seasonals rotate at Town Hall I suspected that even if I went back over the weekend there was a good chance this brew may be gone by then. I was sure as I had been with the 1800 that I’d had some the last time they brewed it. And sure enough, that first taste confirmed it was still a winner in my book and although the 1800 won out at that sitting I wasn’t disappointed ordering the mango.

With the Milk Porter having whetted my thirst for milk, I can’t wait for the Dark Chocolate Milk Porter and the Lingonberry Milk Porter!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Beer and chocolate

Beer is tasty. Chocolate is yummy. However as much as I like the both of them on their own (and paired in a chocolate stout) it rarely occurs to grab a hunk of chocolate when I'm having a beer. Last night during a game of Killer Bunnies there happened to be some Chocolate Bridge Mix from Candyland at hand. At the other hand was a glass of Flat Earth's Belgian pale ale. Mag was the first to mention it and the rest of quickly followed suit to verify that indeed the milk chocolate brought out some very nice and pronounced floral flavors in the beer. If I've ever had beer and chocolate in the same sitting it surely didn't produce results like this! Next time a growler of the Belgian pale ale graces our house I just might have to make sure there's some milk chocolate around.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Rye for me

Last night I met Kat and Scott at Great Waters for a couple of beers. Upon walking in I was greeted by the always pleasant smell of beer being brewed. Bellying up to the bar I was pleased to see they had a nearly full board of beers- Golden Prairie Blond, Brown Trout, Kaizerweizer Hefe, Skip & Go Naked and RyePA for pushed and on the cask side House Ale, Black Watch Oat Stout and Tartar Control IPA. During the time we were there Mr. Smooth got put back on tap as well.

I played it safe with my first beer going with the Tartar Control and got to taste Scott’s Hefe and Kat’s RyePA. Not surprisingly the Hefe was too hefe for me. The surprise came when I tried the RyePA. I’m generally not a huge fan of rye beers but this was very pleasing, likely because of the amount of hops, which balanced out the rye. As I understand it, this is beer was creation of Joel’s and his first one for Great Waters. If this is any indication of his brewing talents, the powers that be are fortunate to have hired this young guy on. I’m looking forward to seeing what his next brew will be.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

They're almost as good as gold

At long last our two Great Taste tickets arrived in the mail today! For those of you who may have forgotten, Mag and I each sent in a request for 2 tickets. Mag got his request promptly returned and sadly unfulfilled. I've known for a few weeks now that someone, hopefully the Madison homebrewers, had cashed my check. So every day I've been checking the mailbox, sure that today must be the day they would arrive. (Lately I was becoming more and more convinced that the mailman stole them.) Thankfully I was wrong and when I opened the mailbox today, there they were.

Truth be told we had a back up plan which involved our very generous friends offering up their extra two tickets so the question of our attendance at the Great Taste wasn't in question. It was more a matter of it we would need to take them up on the offer or not. Now the only question is do we just go down for the festival or take Friday off work and do some pre-festival drinking in the Madison area?

Sunday, June 1, 2008

City Pages Hail & Rain & Drunk Fest

Well, Mother Nature did it to us again this year. About an hour into the City Pages Beer Fest it started raining big, fat, cold drops of rain...and then the marble sized hail came...lots of it. I happened to be outside the tasting area at the time so I was able to find shelter and Kris had her poncho with, so she stayed dry, but she ended up with welts on her arms from the hail. Luckily the rain and hail didn't last long, so the festing could continue. At least until the second band of storms came through. And for anyone wondering, there weren't really any wet, see-through t-shirts present. hrmmm

Kris was pleased with the event, overall. I was less so. The beer selection was as we expected; lots of crap which was made up for by great beers from some of the craft beer joints. One annoying thing about the fest is that most of the beer is served by volunteers who 1) don't know squat about beer (most of them), 2) were often pretty rude (some of them), 3) weren't even filling the tasting cups to the damn 2 oz. line (about half of them). And the crowd was mainly rude drunks who also didn't know crap about beer. I happened to be standing at the Flat Earth tent towards the end of the evening when some d-bag came pushing through the crowd, stuffed his arm over my shoulder, and shouted for Jeff to "Give (him) some of that dark shit. That dark shit is good." Of course, he was referring to Black Helicopter. *sigh* Too much of that. By the way, Flat Earth's dark shit is good if you haven't had it. Real good. Jeff used coffee from Paradise Roasters, a premier, local roaster in the beer.

  • Flat Earth, Surly, Summit and Schell's were anchors of the event, in my opinion. The crowd didn't appreciate their "dark shit," so you could generally get a beer at their tents without too much trouble, unlike the Land Shark and Schlitz tents. And these breweries had representatives present and serving beer. There were enough other craft beers represented (e.g. Boulder Brewing, Boulevard, Bell's, etc.) to provide a good selection.

  • Herkimer was there and I was able to chat with their new brewer for about 5 minutes. I enjoyed what I had of Herkimer's and liked what I heard from their new brewer.

  • There actually were a few new beer offerings to be had. Peak Organic Brewing out of Portland, Maine had beers there, including a pale, nut brown, amber and maple oat. Decent. Atlantic Brewing Co. also had beers there including a blueberry ale, ginger, nut brown and a porter. They may have been there in the past. I don't remember.

  • We bumped into a number of friends and it was fun hanging out.