Monday, August 31, 2009

The Hops are Mine

While it's not always appropriate to have a beer in hand, I now always will have hops on leg, courtesy of Miles over at Steady Tattoo.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Social Networking Confusion

I constantly struggle with finding the best way to stay on top of goings-on. I like to know what my friends are doing, I like to know what's going on around town, I like to know what various breweries and brewpubs are doing, and so on. I've got about 329874932874 tools available to do this...and that's the problem. For all the tools we have available to simplify this kind of stuff, it seems to have gotten more complicated. If I'm looking for information to post to MNBeer or for my own interest, do I check websites and homepages or wait for e-mail blasts or do I look to Facebook or MySpace or, or, or or do I check out Twitter or do I go to BeerAdvocate or, or, or maybe I should send out e-mails or maybe I should just visit these places or, or, or maybe I should pray or maybe I should slit my wrist. Aaaaiiieeee, I feel so insignificant!!!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Brewing, Growing...It's All Good

Today I was in Barley John’s neck of the woods and since that’s not something I can say very often I felt obliged to stop in, say hi and grab a growler. (It would have been a perfect day to grab a pint and enjoy their patio, too, however I resisted the temptation to do what I wanted to do and instead do what I knew I should do.)

As I walked in the door, the windows between the brewery and the vestibule were all full of condensation and since the awful heat and humidity of the weekend was behind us that could only mean one thing: brewing! Sure enough, even before my hand reached the inner door the wonderful, wet, grainy smell of brewing wafted to my nose. Heaven, pure heaven.

I probably wasn’t inside more than five minutes to get my growler filled (with Stockyard IPA) and pay. Reluctantly, I headed out with my jug 'o goodness but before I completely departed I took in the hop vines that are going to town as well as the garden. It’s a beautiful site to see so much green and growing on this strange, triangular patch of asphalt Barley John’s calls home.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

The Bottle of Beer I Couldn't Buy

One beer I couldn’t buy yesterday at The Cellars has been rumbling around in my head, apparently, for over a day. But it didn’t speak up until this afternoon as I was contemplating dinner.

Driving in to Minneapolis the subject of dinner came to mind and at some point it wasn’t a matter of if I was going to stop somewhere, but where I would stop. Round and round I traveled the options in my head finally narrowing it down to three: The Blue Door, Birchwood Café and Ngon Vietnamese Bistro.

The Jiffy Burger at The Blue Door is amazing, they have mostly if not all local taps and of the three, it’s the one it’s the longest time since I’ve been to. Birchwood Café makes a killer Thousand Hills burger as part of their beer & burger special on Sunday nights and although they only have a couple of taps they supplement that with cans or bottles, all of which are local.

Then there’s Ngon, which doesn’t have any hamburger option. And I wasn’t all that sure I was really in the mood for Vietnamese. That being said, I’ve never had anything there that wasn’t stellar. Plus, they have a beautiful, serene patio and according to Brad, currently have Minnesota Tan on tap. That ended up sealing the deal in my mind. No surprise, both the #32 and the Minnesota Tan hit the spot.

Beer Buy

While it never takes much prodding to get me to head to the liquor store, yesterday there was a one, two punch encouraging me. First, Lift Bridge (specifically Brad and his lovely wife) was doing a tasting at The Cellars located less than a mile from my house. Second, an email from Jason over there letting me know that among other things, Crème Brulee was back in stock.

After working up the motivation to head out into the hot, steamy out of doors I made my way over there. I had a nice chat with Brad, which included hearing about the previous night’s Brew at the Zoo (it was sold out AND I’m told was a pretty good event). Then I made my way back to see all of the new things that had arrived since my last visit. Mark pointed out a few not to be passed over things and warned me away from a couple he knew would not be to my liking.

I’m not sure how long I was there, but like usual, it was probably a really long time to spend staring so intently at bottles of beer. In the end, I made out with 5 bombers, 1 single and a 6 pack of Lift Bridge Farm Girl.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Great Taste: Kris Says...

I’m happy to report that I can tell you what my first two beers of the fest were (Piece IPA, followed by Surly Bourbon One). What I can’t tell you however is what some of my last beers were. But, such is the way of beer fests.

I’m also happy to say that although there were a lot of beers I realized I had missed upon opening up my cheat sheet the following morning, I tried a lot of new things and enjoyed nearly all of them. One category that there seemed to be quite a lot offered in, and I partook in, was that of the meads and ciders. White Winter is a pretty standard player at beer fests and I know Aeppeltreow Winery has been at the Great Taste in years past. B. Nektar Meadery, however, is newer and Dragonmead Brewery for the first year brought a mead along with their beer, which turned out to be a grape mead (pyment). It was amazing, but at 13% + this one could really knock you out. The pear was my favorite from Aeppeltreow and the vanilla-cinnamon from B. Nektar was surprisingly well balanced (plus, they had some super cool black girly tanks!). White Winter always makes a quality product but compared to the others they were a bit stingy on the samples.

To balance out my sweet tooth I also had plenty of IPAs including Lake Louie’s Kiss the Lips and Emmett’s Jaw Jack. Both gave me the hop fix I was looking for.

I’ve been coming around to the sour beers so couldn’t resist trying Lakefront’s Rosie (on completely the other end of the world from locally loved Barley John’s Rosie) and Jolly Pumpkin’s Roja Du Kriek. Their tables were nearly next to one another so I was able to do a head to head tasting and although Rosie is a lambic-kriek hybrid, it still put Roja to shame. There was a clear difference in quality although Roja was certainly a prettier girl. Looks aren’t everything!

With only a few exceptions, I steered clear of the Minnesota breweries. It's not because they don’t produce a quality product but because I’m lucky enough to get them on a regular basis. Instead I tried to focus on things that at best I can find at quality beer bars or during a run across the river to Hudson, at worst, things I likely won’t be tasting again until the next Great Taste.

Sitting in the rain for 1 ½ hours and sweating my ta-tas off aside, it was again another great Great Taste that I’m thrilled I was able to go to. Thank you, Beer Gods, and please remember me again next year.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Oh, the anticipation!

In less than 24 hours we’ll be making our way to Madison and in just slightly over 48 hours that which is the Great Taste will be underway. And I’m just giddy in anticipation!

Since the start of the week I’ve been rabidly checking the MHTG website for the program to be posted. Almost as a tease, they posted a combo map/listing of brewers Monday. That didn’t do much to scratch the itch so back I went again and again until mid-day Wednesday when the program appeared.

Being the geek I am, I had to sacrifice a few tree limbs and print the darn thing out. I’ve already given it an initial once over and later today I’ll be going back with a more detailed eye, already mapping out who I should hit first, who I want to make sure not to miss and who has said they will be doing special releases. Of course, as brewers are wont to do, some offerings will change and there will likely be plenty more special releases brightly written on chalk/white boards at the event.

Although the weather forecast (93 degrees!, are you kidding me?) has put a bit of a damper on my excitement it has also fueled the planner in me to try to figure out ways to mitigate the heat. The last couple years the weather has been pretty good, but there was one a few years back that was sweltering and we ended up leaving early, staggering back to our hotel. With any luck, some bit of self control and proper planning, will reduce the chances of that happening again. But really, the weather is secondary; THE GREAT TASTE IS ALMOST HERE!!!

Sunday, August 2, 2009


An impromptu stop at Stub & Herb’s yesterday yielded one of the most difficult menu decisions in a long time, especially considering we’re in the midst of high wheat beer season. Perusing their beer list I could only find a couple of brews I immediately discounted, put some of others into the “had and would enjoy having again” category, but found plenty “new” ones I was interested in.

The most intriguing one was from Dark Horse, which if you read about our trip to Michigan over Memorial Day, you’ll know is highly regarded by this beer drinker. Since the name, Rod “the boner beer”, didn’t give anything away as to the style I asked the bartender. He didn’t know much about it either but happily brought me a sample and filled me in on the name. Apparently the beer is brewed with some herbs that are considered aphrodisiacs. Upon tasting it, I found it to be watery and lacking much flavor at all. Oh well, there were plenty more to choose from.

This then led to my order of Founders Centennial IPA, again another great stop during our time in Michigan. Sporting a light amber color, it lacked much in the way of aroma, but the flavor offered enough hoppy b.o.-ness to be quite enjoyable.

Once the last of the IPA had made its way from the glass to my mouth, I went for one of my favorite coffee beers, Furthermore’s Oscura. A really fine beer in its own right, it also turned out to be a very complimentary follower to the IPA. The end of the pint of Oscura also brought an end to my menu deliberations at Sturb’s for the day as there were other afternoon obligations calling.