Tag Archives: brewery

Paddle Hard Brewing


Happy Thirsty Thursday!


Not to be confused with Bent Paddle Brewing in Duluth, Minnesota, we tested our pooches out on the patio of Paddle Hard Brewing in Grayling, Michigan on the way to visit Rob’s parents.

Again, they did really well! Just a quick loud bark when another dog walked by… We have yet to find out what it will be like if another dog is lingering in the patio area with us. In that picture with Shamrock on the right above is a little travel collapsible water bowl. This is helpful when a dog-friendly patio doesn’t have a water bowl on offer for its furry patrons or if the bowl is on the other side of the patio!

It was a beautiful day!

We tasted a flight of brews…

Top Row (left to right): Paddle Hard Cold Brew Vanilla Brown Ale, Left Foot Charley Cinnamon Cider, Hideout Peanut Butter Chocolate Porter. Bottom Row (left to right): Dark Horse Double Crooked Tree Imperial IPA, New Holland Night Tripper Imperial Stout, Short’s Goodnight Bodacious Double Black IPA

Obviously, they offer guest beers as well as their own. And you can choose any to add to your flight!

We also had a bite to eat:

Quinoa Salad – Fresh quinoa, roasted red peppers, crumbled feta, green onion, banana peppers, tomato, zucchini, and dill, placed on baby spinach, served with vinaigrette with homemade garlic flatbread – $8

The salad was good, but not as good as the the Power Grain Bowl from Morgan’s Farm to Table and Ancient Grain Salad from Vivo Kitchen – two of my favorite quinoa-based salads in the Twin Cities. This one could have used some chicken or something with a bit more flavor, despite all that dill. The homemade “garlic flatbread” just tasted like pita bread that had been grilled and sprinkled with parmesan cheese.

BLT Pizza – Homemade garlic butter sauce, cheddar/mozz cheese blend, topped with bacon, cheddar cheese, chopped romaine, tomato, and mayo homemade garlic butter sauce, baby spinach, artichoke, sliced Roma tomatoes, mozz/cheddar blend – $9

Rob loved this pizza! Such a nice buttery crust with great BLT flavors. Even with lettuce on this pizza, he was not going to leave any leftovers behind – they came with us.

Now that we know the dogs seem to do well in public places, it’s nice to know we can stop when they are allowed! Paddle Hard Brewing‘s slogan: “Life’s Short. Paddle Hard!”

Do you have any favorite dog-friendly hangouts?


You Can’t Always Get What You Want…


…Especially when it comes to beer.

I’ve been missing all the Bourbon Barrel beers we had in Temecula. I haven’t been able to find many ’round here. But I guess I haven’t been trying too hard. {Note: After this was written, but before it was posted, we did find the Central Waters Brewer’s Reserve Bourbon Barrel Stout. Soooooo good!}

But we did take a trip to see our friend Nora at Excelsior Brewing a few weekends ago. She moonlights there occasionally and we’d been wanting to make a visit. It had been over a year since our first trip to Excelsior. But of the four breweries we visited that day, it wasn’t our favorite. So it was about time to give them another chance!

As far as IPAs go, Excelsior’s Bridge Jumper IPA is a pretty solid one. It’s recently become one of Rob’s favorite local IPAs. Excelsior Brewing likes to celebrate all things lake-related, as it is inspired by its own Lake Minnetonka. So it’s only fitting that this is named after a childhood rite of passage of the locals living by the lake.

However, on this visit, Nora pointed out a new brew and I decided to give it a whirl. And it was then that I fell in love with Mister Jimmy’s Ruby Brown Ale as well as the story behind the local legend, Mr. Jimmy.

photo 3(2)“You can’t always get what you want,” Jimmy told Mick. But Jimmy gets his cherry in this gracefully caramel accented ruby hued ale. Starts with a refreshing tart cherry sweetness, followed by a subtle wave of chocolate. Portions of proceeds sold in tap room go to Local ICA Food Shelf in honor of this local legend.

Well, what I’ve been wanting lately were those rich Bourbon Barrel stouts and porters. But what I didn’t realize was how much I needed something new like the Mr. Jimmy Ruby Brown Ale! Excelsior describes this release as:

“…an imperial version of our Black Ale, Nunnmorblak, with the addition of Cherry puree and Belgian Candy Sugar.”

Um, yeah. With Bridge Jumper in hand, Rob had beer remorse. And he did make his own jump over to Mr. Jimmy himself afterward. Our only gripe? We couldn’t get it by the growler. 😉

Speaking of growlers, I learned a thing or two by reading this on the Growler cooler:

photo 2(2)

Important: Please note the shelf-life of beer in Growlers. It’s good to know because I’ve found it a common topic of conversation whenever a Growler is opened. Now we have a definitive answer.

But I find the last bullet point the most educational of them all. 😉

One thing we love about the Excelsior Brewery is the how laid back the tap room is. The first time we were there, we were on tour with sixty people. It was a tight fit in the small garage. But hanging out was much more relaxed this time around.


Rob pointed out that a couple brought a deck of cards to pass the time while tipping back a few brews.


Excelsior-Brewing-logo-ed everything fills the room. Much of it you can buy, but some just decorates the interior of this warehouse. I also liked the fact that you could buy your friend a beer for a future visit:


“Beers not redeemed within 90 days become old and stale so we will remove them.  But we will donate 50% of the investment to ICA Local Foodshelf.”

I love that! My friend Lisa and I first came across a pay-it-forward style bar when Rob and I were visiting at their cabin. We knew we’d meet up with the boys later after golf and decided to buy them a beer for later. Genius.

Have you been to a bar or brewery where you can buy a beer for someone in advance, even if they aren’t with you that day?

Have you found a new beer you love lately?


Fulton Brewery – Minneapolis



We’ve been to a few of the breweries in the west Twin Cities metro area, but really that’s about it. It’s kind of hard to believe when we’ve been to five breweries in Charlotte and six breweries in Temecula!

My husband occasionally participates in a co-worker Happy Hour at Steel Toe, one of our faves in the Twin Cities. We also support a lot of local breweries when we are dining out.

But how is it that we haven’t made it to the Fulton taproom yet? It was, after all, the first brewery taproom in the Twin Cities!

Well, when Rob’s co-workers arranged an outing to the brewery and Rob invited me along, he did not have to twist my arm.


The boys of Fulton made their first beer in a one-car garage in the Fulton neighborhood of South Minneapolis in 2006. According to the story on their website, Fulton served their first keg at Happy Gnome in October of 2009.

As they grew, they moved a few times to have enough room to brew. This means that they are no longer brewing out of that South Minneapolis garage in the Fulton neighborhood. And in 2012, they relocated to downtown Minneapolis, where they opened the first brewery taproom in the Twin Cities.

With its newly expanded patio and extra bike parking, Fulton has been referred to as an “Urban Oasis.”

And even though we drove there in rush hour traffic on a cold, cold night, I’d wholeheartedly agree.


You’ll find the Sweet Child of Vine IPA and Lonely Blonde Ale on tap all over the Twin Cities Metro. But come to the brewery for some specialty beers.

We’ve found it on tap at some obscure places, but served at the taproom is one of our absolute Fulton favorites – the Libertine Imperial Red Ale.


It was my beer of choice for the evening. The funny thing is that I’m not generally not into red ales. But this beer goes against any brewing rules. It’s a fall beer, generally available September through November.

We were crossing our fingers that our other fave Fulton would be available: the Worthy Adversary Russian Imperial Stout. We had it back in January at the Pig & Fiddle. We put it up against the Founders Imperial Stout which was also on tap that night.

Battle of the RIS

Oh dear, are they both heavenly! It was actually pretty difficult to differentiate between the two. If we had to choose one, we would say that Founders beat out Fulton by 1/100th of a point. In other words, we will always order the local Worthy Adversary if we find it on tap.

But alas, Worthy Adversary isn’t available until December. We arrived on November 21st. I guess that means there is a winter trip to Fulton in store for us…

When the taproom is open, a food truck is parked outside. While we were there, it was Lulu’s Street Food. Boy did that food look good! A couple of our friends tried it:

Mark ordered a Crab Cake Sandwich and said it was probably the best crab cake he had ever had! Nora said that her Wild Mushroom Hash would have been way too dry if it wasn’t for the runny egg.

I assumed that we would be food-trucking it that night, but Rob wanted to find another place in the neighborhood. Although I had a beer under my belt and was feeling almost hangry having had lunch around 11am, I could hardly say, “no” considering it was his birthday the next day and he had the day off. {Come back Thursday to find out where we dined post-Fulton!}

As Rob finished his last beer, I sipped on a Blueberry Cream House Made Soda {Yes! They have those, too!} It was a little over vanilla-ed for my taste. Then we stocked up on some Fulton purchases before heading our way out.


Growler of Libertine + Fulton Pint Glass + the softest ever green Fulton t-shirt = awesomeness

Empty growler now = required trip back to Fulton.

Question: Who wants to join us?


Heist Brewery Brunch


Brewery Stop #5 – Heist Brewery

After our tour of the Charlotte breweries the day before, we were all brewed out. But that didn’t stop us from going to brunch at Heist Brewery!


I think this is one place Tay and Brendan knew that they wanted to take us before we even arrived in Charlotte. And they knew they wanted us there for brunch.

Now I know why!

We arrived at about 11:30am, knowing there would be a wait…

What I found interesting is that in North Carolina (or maybe just Charlotte or even that particular county), alcohol cannot be served until noon. Forget the fact that, in MN, we pay 9.5% sales tax {plus more in certain cities} on alcohol or that we cannot buy alcohol in stores on Sundays. At least we can have a good Bloody Mary on a Sunday morning! 😉

Looking around, it was odd to see people dining in the bar area drinking coffee and orange juice. However, when the clock struck 12:00, a bell was rung and servers with readied trays began delivering bloodys, mimosas and brews throughout the room. It was quite festitve! I decided on a Bloody, which doesn’t come with a beer chaser in the south. Rob decided to try a Craft Beer Cocktail. That’s something I’d never seen before! Check out the menu:


I know some wine connoisseurs don’t like to use good wines to make mixed drinks. What do you think about Heist using their beer to create cocktails?

While we didn’t take a look at the regular menu, Brendan said we could still order from it. But we wanted to see what all the hype was about regarding the brunch here, so we stuck with the buffet.

Unfortunately, I didn’t get many photos of the food! It turns out that it’s hard to take photos with an iPhone while you are carrying a plate. But let me tell you, it was worth the wait!

But here’s a list of a few of the things I can remember on that buffet line that day:

  • Scrambled Eggs
  • Sausages
  • Cheesy Grits
  • Biscuits & Gravy
  • A huge wheel of melty Brie
  • Chocolate Donuts
  • Muffins
  • Hard Boiled Eggs on Toast with some sort of meat
  • Pasta topped with Chicken Wings
  • Omelet Station – I had one made personally for me and it was one of the biggest ever!

But the best thing for brunch could be found at the Waffle Station. These waffles are the best ever! They are made with meringue and sooooo fluffy. I don’t normally order waffles, but I wanted to try these because Tay said it was absolutely necessary. And she was right. Best. I’ve. Ever. Had. I didn’t know that waffles could taste like that!

And of course, there were more items that I can’t remember, nor did I have enough room to try!

Oh yeah. We enjoyed some sangria with our brunch as well as sampled their Oatmeal Stout – one of the best beers of the trip! It’s a good thing we don’t live there because that place could be very dangerous… {In other words, we kinda liked it.}

We left Charlotte that day, after such a wonderful long weekend with friends. Aside from the small flatbread Rob and I split at the airport, knowing we wouldn’t be home until after 9pm, we didn’t eat a single other thing. Such is the way with brunch sometimes. 😉

What is your favorite brunch food, drink or place to enjoy it?

Have you had anything unique for brunch lately?