Category Archives: Brews

On the Road: New Glarus

In case you haven’t noticed, Marcus and I have become fans of The Great American Roadtrip.  So it made sense for us to plan a few stops on our way to and from Louisville.

Our first stop was New Glarus, Wisconsin.  New Glarus is a tiny town about 20 or so miles outside of Madison.  It is tucked into the prettiest, rolling green hills and is known as America’s Little Switzerland.

New Glarus 1 New Glarus 2 New Glarus 3

They really work the theme with an intense level of commitment.

New Glarus 4

When we stopped in the town a few years ago, I ate some cheese curds at a restaurant called Glarner Stube and vowed to return.  So we did.

New Glarus 6

What makes these curds so exceptional is the fluffy beer batter they are swathed in.  The only finer curds to be found in America are those at the Mouse Trap in the food building at the Minnesota State Fair.

Another reason it’s such a gem is because their only taps are from New Glarus Brewing Company.

New Glarus 5

For those of you who are unfamiliar, New Glarus Brewing’s beers can only be purchased in the state of Wisconsin.  Between the two of us we enjoyed the Uff-Da, Spotted Cow, Moon Man and a limited edition Abbey-style ale.

When dinner rolled around, I had a wedge salad because at this point in the trip my mind was still somewhat focused on…healthy things.

New Glarus 7

Insomuch as you can call something covered in blue cheese healthy.  They are so retro.  I just love them.

And then Marcus shared some of his wiener schnitzel, kraut and rosti with me.

New Glarus 10New Glarus 9New Glarus 8

Because if a dinner plate-sized skillet full of rosti isn’t a single serving, I do not know what is.  Truly, his meal could have served three with leftovers.  The only rosti I’ve eaten before are those served at Hell’s Kitchen.  These were definitely less seasoned (no bacon or green onions), but they made up for that in the melted cheese department.  Don’t change Wisconsin.

After that delightful meal, we hightailed it to bed because we were set to head out early the next morning.  But what a delightful way to spend the evening.

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Celebrity Guest-ing at The Four Firkins and Darkness Day Eve

This could probably be two totally separate posts (Celebrity Guest-ing at The Four Firkins AND Darkness Day Eve), but since the whole thing unfolded over the course of six hours, we’re going to pack it all into one.

About a month ago, Bryan over at The Four Firkins asked me if I would have any interest in stopping by the store one night to be their Celebrity Guest.

Bryan and I

Answer: Yes.  Always Yes.

I remember the first time I visited the store at The Old Location, shortly after I turned 21.  It was filled to bursting with bottles and styles I had never seen before, and frankly, I was overwhelmed.   Marcus was very patient with me as I tried to figure out what I could possibly fill my first ever pick-six pack with and when we departed, I felt relieved.

I had survived this strange new world.

Good news party-people.  Fast-forward five years.  I know the styles now and I am overwhelmed no longer.  We have come full circle.

Sign

So.  Celebrity Guest.

What does all of this mean?

Each Friday and Saturday night from 6:00 PM – 9:00 PM at The Four Firkins, The Convict’s Pint is open.  The Convict’s Pint, as it so happens, is the lovely tasting bar at the back of the store where they host a sampling of the week’s newest beer along with a smattering of snacks to munch on.  All for free.

It’s a beautiful thing.

As the lady of the hour, I got to log some quality time behind the bar with Doug, and when I wasn’t doing that I was mingling with the other customers.

Behind the Bar

In case you haven’t realized this about me yet, I really like meeting people.  Sometimes I try to argue my case for being an Introvert with Marcus because I really do cherish having some Me Time to recharge.  But I think that the above sentence probably blows it to bits.

Also: This snap of Michael and I.  It’s a terrible one of me, but otherwise, he will not get his moment in The Blog Sun.

Michael and I

Which he very much deserves.  He and the rest of the Firkins Comrades are nothing short of Beer Geniuses.

At one point during the evening, Marcus and I were invited to sit for a photo on the VIP couch.  I like to think that the fact that we had not seen how any of the other photos turned out allowed us to come up with this.

VIP Couch

That shot is the love child of The Finer Things Club and too many seasons of America’s Next Top Model.

And then it was back to business.

More sampling, more snapping and more chatting.

I knew that after the store closed, the guys were heading up to Brooklyn Center to take part in the Darkness Day Eve festivities.

Back story: Darkness Day is the annual festival day that Surly Brewing Company hosts each year to fete the limited release of their beer, Darkness.  It’s a Russian Imperial Stout and in the beer drinking world, it is pretty much The Business.  Since supplies are so low to begin with, Surly Nation camps out overnight in order to get the wristbands that will allow them the opportunity to buy (on a timed basis) up to six bottles of the beloved brew.

It’s sort of A Big Thing.  I had never been, and so I decided to see if Team Firkins would be willing to let me tag-along for that portion of the evening as well.  Because if you’re going to do something, Go Big.  Do not pass go.  Do not look back.

Our main mission was to walk the line, pass out free beer, distribute discount tokens and do a bit of Four Firkins-style evangelism (does it ever really end?).  After that, we were free to join the revelers.

Ian was a lifesaver and picked out the beers that I was to bring with.  I know I just said that we were passing out free beer.  Bear with me.  In addition to the camping and the grilling (Scott ended up running through something on the order of 100 lbs of meat) there is the beer sharing and trading.

It’s a lot to keep track of, really.

But, if you’re going to jump in with both feet, it’s always helpful to have someone who knows what they’re doing.  My instructions to Ian: I just want to be cool.

We ended up with Cuveé Van De Keizer Golden Carolus.

Golden Carolus

Stone’s Enjoy By 11.12.13.

Stone Enjoy By

Olvalde’s Ode to a Russian Shipwright.

Ode to a Russian Shipwright

Or, as Ian explained it to me, something Belgian to share with the Minnesotans, an IPA with an expiration date and something Minnesotan to share with the attendees from out-of-state.

Supplies stashed away, I hopped into the car with Alvey and we were on our way.

Naturally we shared life stories en route.  It’s just the thing to do.

This is also the point in our tale where I shift from past tense to present tense, because for some reason it all just sounds better to me that way.  You’ve been warned.

So we pull into the Caribou parking lot which is a half mile away from the brewery proper and I am informed that already it is Much Busier than it has ever been.  Not that I have anything to compare it to.

We organize ourselves and caravan towards the tail end of the line to begin our work.  Remember how I said that people camp out?  There are hundreds of them.

With the Car

Before we can even properly begin with the distribution of things and whatnot, I am pulled into a snap with some of the artists who have designed the labels for Darkness (a new label is revealed each year).

With the Artists

Pictured: Ben McCoy, Adam Turman, Michael Berglund and Josh Lemke.

Can I just take a moment to say that this snap will slay me for the rest of my life because (1) we all look great in it, (2) had I been a little more mentally present and a little less overwhelmed, I would have had So Many Questions To Ask These Guys.

Hindsight.

We get moving.

As we move down the line, I’m busy chatting people up at their campsites.   In my party dress and heels.  It’s something like 10:00 PM, it’s 50-ish degrees outside.  Because all of this makes sense.

If it is not already apparent to you how I may be inappropriately dressed for this sort of festivity, I think this snap really puts it into perspective.

On the Line

At one campsite I am offered a glass of Surly SeVIIn, which seems really too nice to offer a total stranger.  I am given a freshly off the fire bratwurst at the next and yet another glass of beer, this time Founders’ Breakfast Stout at a third.

I am the one who is meant to be giving things out.  Not the other way around.

Beer in one hand, brat in the other, I find Ian and he dumps some of the chili he has sourced onto my brat, thus improving it.  The more serious (and nagging question) I have is Where On Earth Did That Chili Come From?

Chili Dog

But these are not things we can know answers to.

I have a little chat with some nice men who had driven in from North Dakota.  I know that people do this, but still, it’s rather mind-blowing to me.

Finally, we are at the end (or rather, the beginning) of the line.

Where we find Scott and his camp.

Scott’s personal tradition each year is to venture to the end of the line from time to time with an unopened bottle of that year’s release of Darkness.  Once he establishes where the very last camp is, he cracks open the bottle and starts working his way up until it is emptied.

Marcus has now arrived in Brooklyn Center and so we are invited to join him for that.

And so we toast with these fellow members of Surly Nation, and return back to the front.  Hiking and hello-ing.  As I interrogate Scott about all things Surly.

From there it is a few more mysterious glasses of God Only Knows What.  The reason being given for pouring: The bottle is already open.  There a few more exclamations about my choice of footwear (heels on, don’t care) and Marcus informs me that if we do not begin the trek back to Plymouth, we will probably turn into pumpkins.

A HUGE thank you to The Four Firkins for allowing me to join them for their tasting on Friday night and for then letting me invade their Darkness Day Eve festivities.  They could have said No, but instead they allowed me to join them on An Excellent Adventure.  Another thank you to Alvey for sharing all of the snaps up here with me, excluding the bottles.  Where I was not photo-documenting the evening, you were and I owe you big time!

My Weekend in Instagram

Hello, Sunday night.

Yes, I took more than two pictures this weekend.  But (1) I am saving some for later this week and (2) you only need to see so many snaps of a pint of beer before you are like, ENOUGH ALREADY. WE GET IT.

I will spare us all from this fate.

What’s sort of hilarious is that I’ve gone from feeling wordless to having, well, lots to share.  So I’ve made a list for myself and we’ll get through all of that in time.

For now, this weekend.  In photos from Instagram.  I think that last week, I finally felt like everything was finally “normal.”  And last weekend was the most “normal” weekend that Marcus and I have spent together in probably two months.

That’s a little bit insane when you think about it.

So we needed this weekend big time, and it did not disappoint.

The snaps.

On Friday, Steel Toe’s taproom finally opened up and we showed up about an hour after they got pouring to drink and celebrate.

Steel Toe

It was wonderful and then some.   Jason (the Head Brewer) has a really good thing going on there and it’s really nice to see someone so deserving have such success.

More selfishly: I really appreciate having a taproom in St. Louis Park.  They will always be unlocking the doors on Friday afternoons as I am driving home from work.  This is a really good system in my book.

Today, I got together with all of the women on Marcus’ side of the family to bake hamantaschen for Purim.

It’s a really wonderful thing that we all do together every year.  And as I say “we all” and “every year,” I am now counting on my fingers and realizing that we have all been baking together for six years now.

🙂

It was the pinnacle of industriousness.

Hamantaschen

About a thousand cookies later, we called it a day.  For inquiring minds that want to know, we mainly did mixed fruit, but there were also a few batches of peanut butter-chocolate chip and cherry pie filling.  Poppy seeds are nowhere to be found.

What did you do this weekend?

My Weekend in Instagram

I didn’t know what I wanted to write about today, but I realized that Instagram told a good chunk of the story.  Are there (large-ish) bits missing?  Sure.  But we’re playing a long game.

I had a bridal shower on Saturday at noon.  As I was running, it occurred to me that I needed to wear something…put together.  Because people dress up for those things, right?

So I dragged out this frock that I wore once for Passover and then promptly forgot about.

Dress

Shopping in your closet: It can be fun.

It’s from Sosie.  I ordered it last year, but I’m 99% positive that it’s this one.

At Dana’s shower, they had cookie-favors (surprise: I am always a fan).

Cookie

Life lesson: If you eat anything that involves black frosting, it will turn your lips black a la red wine.

You know, just a tip from one sister to another.

And finally, the Four Firkins had a free beer tasting event on Saturday night.  They do complimentary tastings every weekend, but this one involved beer and cheese/chocolate which was just beyond phenomenal.

Michael was extremely on-point as he walked us through the different pairings and what we were meant to be experiencing.  Marcus and I did some beer/food pairing stuff on our first Wisconsin beer-stravaganza, but we haven’t had the opportunity since then.

This was a good welcome back into the fold.

Look.

Beer

I think when all was said and done (and we had to scamper back home for dinner!), Billy, Marcus and I had tried seven different beers, three different cheeses and two different chocolates.  And lest, I forget, a candied pecan.

We’re lucky to have such a great people nearby.

Today?  A snow day.  AKA The best end to the best weekend.

Best Weekend

For the last week of Minnesota Month, we visited the Steel Toe Brewing in Saint Louis Park!

Hello sweet friends!

This has been absolutely the most relaxing weekend in the history of earth.  The only things that I had on my calendar were dinner dates with girlfriends.  Like seriously, after a month of holidays and celebrations and racing and sickness, how great is that?

If this is how “normal” weekends are supposed to be, I want them to all be like this, all the time.

Saturday was a little bit sulky, weather-wise, but look at who I discovered in our yard.

I know.  I KNOW.  Happiest moment.

Marcus and I went to Excelsior Brewing’s Oktoberfest for a bit.  Because tents with polka bands in the fall are A Calling.  I had their Bitteschlappe Brown and Marcus had an Oktoberfest lager.

Not the greatest snap in the history of earth, but how great are those sunnies?  Hot pink just seemed like the right thing to do.

And today, after actioning Cafe Latte’s Turtle Cake for a co-worker’s birthday (don’t even get me started about the amount of batter and frosting I ate), I did some much-needed work on my mitts.

Color Club in Status Update.  Having well-organized mitts is just so cathartic, you know?

I finally got to watch Being Elmo.

It has been on my to watch-list for too long and it was just…pure joy.  Watch it immediately.  On your own, with your family, with your friends.  Whatever.  I’m not on some sort of moral crusade to eradicate violence and sex from The Television, but it was actually really refreshing to spend an hour watching something that was just so…none of the above.

XO

What a Difference a Year Makes

Last year at this time, I took a day off from posting because we were headed to the Autumn Brew Review and I was only starting to come to terms with the fact that I was physically unable to run and the marathon was three weeks away.

It was a dark time.

Today I ran eight miles in loops around Lake Calhoun (three of them with Lis!) with a rising sun and in three hours, I’ll be walking through those gates again.  To taste and laugh and catch-up with friends.

What a difference a year makes.

If you are headed to the ABR and want a top five list of my must-taste beers, click here.  Or if you’re just wanting to know about a handful of the new Minnesota breweries that will be on display, click here.

Cheers and see y’all tomorrow!

Indeed Brewing: The Tap Room

We can all take a moment to try to figure out why I’m terrible at taking snaps of brewery chalk boards later.

Indeed Brewing opened their beer palace tap room yesterday, making it the third tap room in the City of Minneapolis, as well as allegedly kicking off the new “Brew District” in Northeast.  Though after a lot of soul-searching I can’t decide if the Brew District is going to end up being a real thing or a name that people try to ram down the drinking public’s throats.

That’s neither here nor there.

Anyway, since Indeed had more time than anyone else (or at least decided to take more time than the three tap rooms that opened in the last six months or so) it really is kind of a beer palace.

Look.

The interior design really respects the type of space they took over (It’s Northeast!  Everything is sort of a warehouse!).  It’s apparent that they spent a bit of extra time/money to ensure that their chairs/booths/bar encourage you to grab a seat and stay there.  This is an understandable ploy.  I don’t mind the bohemian feel of the other tap rooms at all, but this design decision will likely end up being their calling card.

I think they had something like 1,300 people stop in yesterday which is nothing short of prolific.  As evidence of the fact that all the right people were there (besides the obvious fact that we went with a group of friends), Joey and I finally got to drink a pint and talk all things running and beer.  If that’s not The Universe at work, I do not know what is.

They have two beers on tap (and cask): Day Tripper and Midnight Ryder.  We started with the Day Tripper and then moved onto the Midnight Ryder from there.

Another pro: the space is designed to let profane amounts of natural light in.  Though no amount of natural light will help you when you look paunchy and tired.  There are some days where makeup cannot and will not bring resolution to a situation.

Anyway, back to the beers.  The Day Tripper was…fine.  The Midnight Ryder was better than that.  Both are totally serviceable pours, but I’m never going to find myself struck with a craving for either of them.

If I were to come back here it would be because I wanted the ambience of the interior/patio or because I was craving the food truck they were hosting that evening.  Or because it’s practically within walking distance of El Taco Riendo.  Three things that require me to leave my house and the safety of the suburbs.

That I already know that El Taco Riendo-related fact should come as no surprise since we definitely ended up their for dinner again.

Once more we spread the chorizo-laden love by bringing friends that have never been.  Paying-it-forward of the highest degree.

These are my priorities, people.

What’s your favorite cheap/go-to dinner place?