Tag Archives: Minnesota

Brew for Thought: Lake Superior Brewing Kayak Kolsch

Summers are hectic, possibly more than any other time of the year. Even though the warm weather conjures up visions of lying on the beach or going to the baseball game, in truth the weather is the perfect excuse to get all of those chores done that piled up during the winter. There is a place in Minnesota, though, where you can truly get away from the endless noise of engines drumming down the highway and the constant ringing of cell phones: the Boundary Waters.

In the northernmost reaches of the state lies a quiet sanctuary of lakes and islands, whose only visitors use a paddle rather than an engine. While the term pristine wilderness is an idealistic statement, spending a week in the BWCA is as close to unplugged as our society gets. There is something wonderful and a little terrifying to know you are relying on only the items you’ve packed in to your kayak or canoe: one misstep and you could be up a creek without a paddle, so to speak.

The solitude the Boundary Waters offers a person is unmatched by any convenient amenity we can buy in a store. Waking up the first morning in camp is uplifting, as though Emerson himself sloughed the knapsack of custom from your shoulders. The air is crisp and clean and it feels like the first time you’ve ever really taken a breath.

This place and mindset demand a quality beer free of gimmicks and heavy-handed witticisms in their names. It demands something light, crisp and refreshing as the morning air. In my mind, Lake Superior Brewing Kayak Kolsh is the perfect choice for a trip to the Boundary Waters, so grab a six-pack, (oh hell, grab two six-packs) and make a grand portage to a little peace of mind.

Best Enjoyed: Quietly, at a campsite on the lake.

Best Paired With: A shore lunch of freshly caught walleye.

Where to Find: Minnesota and Superior, Wisconsin


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Brew for Thought: Surly Furious

American history, and the history of Western Civilization overall, is steeped in revolution. The epic shifts in political power, religious dominance, philosophical thought, and movements in art have all had a hand in shaping the cultural landscape of modern day and each had a catalyst that launched simmering undercurrents into full-fledged revolutions. The American Revolution had the Boston Tea Party; Modernism had Pablo Picasso; Christianity had Martin Luther and The Ninety-Five Theses; and the Minnesotan craft beer revolution has Surly Furious.

For years, the standard of Minnesotan craft brewing was Summit Brewing Company, who quietly and without much fanfare served fine craft beers to the residents of the North Star State. Still, macro brews dominated the local market and craft beer remained an underground movement. That is, until one homebrewing entrepreneur got a little surly about the situation and started Surly Brewing Company. With a mission to oust the common swill plaguing the Minnesotan beer scene in favor of bold flavors, Surly gave craft beer a strong, unified voice and became a rallying point for the oncoming revolution.

Furious, Surly’s flagship beer, is the very essence of the brewery’s mission: full of bold and aggressive flavors that make an indelible impression on the drinker’s palate. It tastes like a glorious victory against the tyranny of bad beer akin to the Delacroix painting depicting “La Liberté.” Join the ranks of Surly Nation by cracking into a can of Furious and proclaim, “Vive la Bière!”

Best Enjoyed: After drinking a can of Beast Ice.

Best Paired With: A rack of ribs and corn on the cob.

Where to Find: In Minnesota. Anthony was able to find some out in D.C. too, but it sported a hefty pricetag.

Visit Surly’s website to find out more about this booming brewery.

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Suds: April 6

Opening day. The words carry with them the history of America’s pastime and the promise of a new chapter to come. They awaken the spirits of baseball legends like Ruth and Cobb, Williams and Wagner and Aaron and Mantle and call today’s players to achieve the unthinkable. There is the beauty of a no-hitter, the power of a home-run, the speed of a stolen base, the acrobatics of an amazing play in the field and the strategy of a skipper leading his team to the World Series. It’s worthy of the fanfare and of the name, America’s Favorite Pastime.

Check out this clip from Ken Burn’s Baseball  if you need more convincing and have yourself a Bell’s Oberon because summer is finally here.

Fitger’s Brewpub in Duluth has a great line up of beers on tap.

– Lift Bridge celebrates their bottles being back in stores with a tasting at Thomas Liquors in St. Paul tonight.

Sorry Minhas, better just stick to Mountain Crest.

Brewery Vivant to distribute in Chicago.

James Bond will be drinking beer in the next movie. And people are actually upset.

Target Field is adding local beers to their list this baseball season.

– Looking for somewhere fun to have your next pint? Check out Firkin in Libertyville, IL.

– Or if you’re in Michigan, check out the Hopcat!

– Not to be confused with Hopleaf in Chicago.

– If you’re in Wisconsin, you have to check out the Malt House. You can read what’s it’s all about here.

Who is your favorite baseball player of all-time? Tweet @MidwestBeer or post on our Facebook.

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Brew for Thought: Lift Bridge Beer Co. Farm Girl Saison

Winter is nearly over and with it the season of stouts when I would sit indoors and sip on a dark, heavy pint to ease my heavy heart. Alright a little melodramatic, but when it is pitch black outside by 5pm you need a companion to share the long night with. The good news is things are brightening up in the Midwest. I can finally see my feet again when I leave work and walk to my car, a beautiful sight for those plagued by S.A.D. (also known as wintersuckseosis).

Even though this winter was a relatively mild one in Minnesota, there is a feeling of reprieve when the mercury reaches above freezing. Actually it’s more than just reprieve; it’s a celebration everyone has in their own mind filled with streamers, confetti and pinatas filled with sunshine. You can physically see the change in people as they shed the layers of coats, mittens and scarves and begin to dream about the promise of Spring.

Spring marks the beginning of the Saison season in my beer world, a style defined by warm weather, sunshine and the pastoral landscapes of the Heartland. It seems that each state has their own saison with which to celebrate the turn of the seasons: Wisconsin has Spotted Cow, Illinois has Domaine duPage, and Michigan has the artisanal Bam Biere. Here in Minnesota there is only one saison that I reach for again and again–Lift Bridge’s Farm Girl.

From my home town, this beer tastes like the young, bright ambition of a new growing season. It pours the same cloudy pale straw colors as the inside of the family barn and smells of citrus and spices. It hits the palate with a slightly dry sour note that wakes up the senses from the months of numbing winter winds and is balanced by the bready malts that round out each sip. Grab a six-pack at your local store (yes, they are back in bottles!) and toast to the end of one season and the beginning of warmer days.

Best Enjoyed: Outside on a patio in a tulip glass to savor all the bright aromas.

Best Paired With: Barbecue because, hot damn, it’s that time of year!

Where to Find: All across the state of Minnesota

Visit the Lift Bridge Beer Co. website for more information on this great brewery.

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Hoptellectual: The Howler Conundrum

I had a completely different topic for today’s Hoptellectual, but feel obligated to address an issue that has been burning in the back of mind for a while now only to be brought to the forefront by the rather rousing comments from Howler’s front-man, Jordan Gatesmith. The ordeal has been succinctly covered by Andrea Swenson at The Current, who also offers a link to the full podcast interview, but in short Gatesmith takes issue with Minneapolis’ support of undeserving local bands.

After reading the article, help yourself to a Surly Furious and get your thinking-cap on because I want to open this one up for discussion. Using the examples of The Replacements, Hüsker Dü, and Prince, Gatesmith is suggesting that a “good” music scene is defined by producing bands and artists that make a splash nationally or internationally.

The question: Is Jordan Gatesmith right to berate Minneapolis’ music scene? And on a larger scale beyond Minneapolis, what constitutes a “good music scene”?

Let the conversation begin. Can you dig IT!!!!

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