Tag Archives: firkin

Porter-Stout Week

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I interrupt this Wine Wednesday to bring you…

Porter-Stout Week

at Pizza Lucé in Richfield!

We were so lucky when our friend Shondra directed us to the Pizza Lucé Richfield Facebook Page which announced the release of several ethereal porters and stouts on tap for this entire week!

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Some of these include:

  • Boulder Shake Chocolate Porter (CO)
  • Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout (NY)
  • Goose Island Bourbon County Stout (IL)
  • Founders Imperial Stout (MI)
  • Fulton Worthy Adversary Russian Imperial Stout (MN)
  • Southern Tier Crème Brûlée Stout (NY)
  • Bells Hopslam Double IPA  (MI)
  • Surly Abrasive Double IPA (MN)

Okay, so those last two are not porters, nor stouts, but they are worthy of recognition for being tapped in their own right! And I love how there are some local beers included on the menu, too.

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Nearly all of these have high ABVs, so they’ll only be served up as 10 oz pours. You’ll be grateful if you want to try more than one!

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What’s more is that Shondra reminded us that every Tuesday the Pizza Lucé in Richfield offers all of their tap beers for $3 all night long! And that didn’t change at all for this special event. Beers that we might pay $6 to $10 for elsewhere were just three bucks. We were pleased.

I ordered me a plate of appetizer meatballs (half-price during Happy Hour):

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Meatball Appetizer
Five meatballs or veggieballs topped with mozzarella cheese and baked in a homemade sauce made from organic tomatoes, fresh garlic, Italian herbs, roasted red peppers and red wine. Served with garlic toast. – $7.59

Since it was a school night and couldn’t have a glass of every beer, I had to choose my beer wisely. I started with the Southern Tier Crème Brûlée Stout since I adore it so and it is hard to find in a bottle, let alone on tap. But I quickly learned why I prefer that as an after-dinner dessert beer. It was a little sweet to pair with the meatballs. I’ve been known to order ports and stouts as dessert.

I decided on just one more beer: the Goose Island Bourbon County Stout. Generally, I like to support the locals. But it’s the only beer on the menu I hadn’t had. And I am really in a bourbon barrel beer phase.

One sip and I was in heaven.

You can find these beers (well, not for $3, but still not badly priced) at Pizza Luce in Richfield all week. On Thursday, they’ll have live music along with a very limited tapping of a firkin of Fulton Worthy Adversary.

What’s the best special/happy hour where you live?

Enjoy!

Cheers~
Carrie

The Bulldog Northeast

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Who knew that I could get the best burger, the best cupcakes and an excellent tap beer selection all under one roof?

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As many times as we’d been to Northeast Minneapolis with Groupons to Butcher Block, a couple trips to Nye’s Polonaise Room, a pint or two of cider at Keegan’s and even a food tour of the area, we never stopped to check out the Bulldog NE.

I did step inside the joint once, just to get some change for the parking meter out front. I remember it being very busy and thought of it as nothing more than a college sports bar, despite the fact that I don’t even think there is a college in walking distance of the place.

Then a friend recommended it. We were surprised. Rumor had it that the tap selection was good if we liked beer. And guess what? We do. So we decided to check it out.

Now it’s one of our favorite places to go in the Twin Cities.

While this is the Bulldog in Northeast Minneapolis, a mural of Amsterdam {where the original is located} is proudly displayed. It’s large enough that, if I zoomed in, it could have appeared that this person was sitting right inside the window of a café on the streets of Amsterdam along a canal.

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There are a few “Bulldog” restaurants throughout the Twin Cities; however, my understanding is that they are no longer owned by the same entities and thus are not affiliated at all. Tap selection styles and menus are different. {Although, I will say that I had some satisfying food at the St. Paul location. But that’s for another post.}

I find the menu here at the Bulldog NE to be, well, gourmet. Well, maybe pub food, even sports-bar food gone gourmet. The burger here makes Rob’s Top 10 Burgers in the Twin Cities list. The burger apparently made the City Pages‘ Top 10 Burgers list as well.

NE5Nearly every time we’ve ordered a burger here, the lighting has been too dimly lit to do it justice. But when we finally captured the shot, it still doesn’t scream how nearly perfect this burger is. Top it off with some truffle tots on the side and you’ve got yourself a gourmet meal in a basket:

Truffle Burger - topped with brie and truffle oil on an English muffin with Parmesan truffle tater tots

Truffle Burger – topped with brie and truffle oil on an English muffin with Parmesan Truffle Tater Tots

Of course, as suggested by our friend, the tap selection is fantastic, focusing on Belgians. You can read all about them in their menu book.

Still, there’s a lot of variety, including local brews, with several taps with rotating offerings to change it up for you.

And even though Rob’s least favorite style of beer is probably Belgian, he has found one he adores!

(For the record, I love it, too!)

Kasteel Rouge

Kasteel Rouge

They also offer firkins, which are often limited release, specialty beers. We almost always try the firkin, even if it sounds strange. We’ve found that it’s usually the strange ones we love {Green Tea!} more than the ones we think we’ll love {pomegranate ale}.

And who doesn’t love a patio that allows dogs?

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Your pooch will get a water bowl and some treats to snack on while you linger…

Not only have we been to the Bulldog NE for dinner, but we’ve also shown up during brunch and lunch on the weekend.

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This basic Bloody Mary was okay, but it was nice to have a decent beer chaser!

I found the Chicken and Waffles to be too rich for my blood on one occasion, but I had a fantastic breakfast sandwich and salad after our LOST Station 4 – Flame 16k virtual race.

 Ham and Egg Sandwich Alemar's Camembert style cheese, Canadian bacon, Egg and Gruyére mornay on croissant bun. $12.00

Ham and Egg Sandwich – Alemar’s Camembert style cheese, Canadian bacon, egg and Gruyére mornay on a croissant bun

It was completely satisfying, but not as wonderful and perfect as the breakfast sandwich at The Happy Gnome. But you can’t beat the beer selection there either.

But lastly, would you expect the best cupcakes to be served at a place that serves beer and killer burgers? Not me. On a whim, on one visit, I inquired what the Cupcake of the Day was. It was called the Elvis – something with chocolate and bananas.

It was one of the best cupcakes I could ever remember.

I’ve since tried several unique flavors. I mean the Lemon Lavender Blueberry Cupcake? Come On! Crazy good. The cupcakes are almost always filled. And the frosting is perfect – never overly sweet and gritty, but more creamy and luscious.

I would say that they have the best cupcakes in all of the Twin Cities, but it wouldn’t be fair because I haven’t been to any cupcake shops nor have I ordered them at any bakeries in the area. I don’t care, though. I rarely eat cupcakes and if I’m going to have one, I want to have one I know I’ll love. So it’ll be at the Bulldog NE.

Tell me about the best Beer, Burger or Cupcake you’ve ever had…

Cheers~
Carrie

Living Social Beer Trolley Tour

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Last night I spent the evening wrapping gifts and talking with my mom and my 5-year-old nephew on the phone. I wished I could hug him right then and not have to wait until Christmas when we go back to visit.

Although I mentioned it in my post on the Top 5 Gifts for the Hard-to-Buy-for Person Who Has Everything, I fell like that now, more than ever, giving the gift of your time is one of the most precious things you can give.

For my husband’s 40th birthday, I threw him a “40 days before your 40th” surprise party {time with friends}. Then, on his actual birthday, I had 40 little gifts wrapped. The first one was a timer set to 15 minutes because the intent was for him to open a gift every 15 minutes so that he’d be opening them all day long! I also gave him the freedom to watch football, uninterrupted, all day long {time for himself}, though it was nice to reconnect with him every 15 minutes so that he could unwrap the his next gift. “Hurray!” he’d shout. I’d swear this man had not just turned 40!

One of those gifts was a gift of experience, but he would have to do it by spending time with me!

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As I may have mentioned a time or two, we’ve been blessed with new craft and  micro breweries popping up all over the Twin Cities metro since the Surly bill was passed a little over a year ago. Having lived in Seattle for a good five years, my husband is a fan of such beers and has turned me into somewhat of a beer snob.

So when I received an email from LivingSocial with an offer for a Beer Tasting Trolley Tour, I knew I had to snatch up a couple of tickets and put them in Rob’s birthday box. I didn’t know how good the tour would actually be, but I thought getting him to Lucid Brewing {one of his faves} with perhaps an opportunity to talk with the brewers would be a gift in and of itself.

Our tour included:

  • Lunch at Pizza Lucé with a Pint of Beer
  • Guidance by LivingSocial Adventure Staff
  • 12 Tastings of Local Craft Beers
  • Tours of 4 Local Breweries
  • Take-home LivingSocial Pint Glass
  • Round-Trip Transportation Aboard Vintage Trolleys

There were 60 of us in our tour group, split up onto two trolleys.

Trolley

It didn’t feel like that many people; however, except at the beginning, while dining at Pizza Lucé. We sat there for a good 20 minutes or more before someone came to take our beer order. It was sort of frustrating because we knew that the pizza wouldn’t be out right away, but it would have been nice to have something to sip on while we were waiting.

On top of that, the server was so unfamiliar with the beer menu. He couldn’t tell the difference between an IPA and stout. When he finally came back to the table with our beer, he said that he had three Surly Furious IPAs, but it was obvious that two of the beers were darker and were the stouts Rob and I ordered. He was so confused and had to go back to the bar to find out what was wrong. Seriously, if you are going to serve good local brews at your restaurant, train your staff already. {He wasn’t the only one clueless.}

This was our first time enjoying Summit Oatmeal Stout on Nitro!

Rob and I have concluded that we aren’t fans of Pizza Lucé crust. There is just no flavor there. Season It Already!

But truly, that was really the only complaint of the 5 and half hour tour. There was much fun to come! Our first stop was at Excelsior Brewing Company in Excelsior, MN:

Soup of the Day = Beer & Jumbo Jenga at Excelsior Brewing

Soup of the Day = Beer & Jumbo Jenga at Excelsior Brewing

We really *wanted* to like this place. But we just weren’t that impressed with the beer. Their new Summer Solstice was very strange, too. It had an aftertaste that I couldn’t place. Later, I realized it reminded me of a wine I once had, with an overwhelming eucalyptus finish.

After our three tastes there, we bought a glass of their Porter. Even that fell flat for us. There were many people who enjoyed the beers, though, and even bought Growlers for the trolley ride. {Yes, we could drink on the trolley!}

Don’t worry, we’ll still give Excelsior Brewing a chance. They are still very new. I believe their opening week was only back in July. I still really want to like the place.

Our next stop was at Lucid Brewing where they also share the facility with Badger Hill.

Lucid & Badger Hills on tap from this cooler!

Lucid & Badger Hill beers on tap from this cooler!

As expected, Rob loved being able to talk with the brewers at Lucid. {Another gift SUCCESS!} We had time to chat with the gal who owns Badger Hill as well. We talked with them about our favorites and at what restaurants we like to enjoy a pint or two of their beers.

Our favorite samples:

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Lucid Foto IPA – The dry hoppiness is something we both love in our beer.

Badger Hill Foundation Stout

Badger Hill Foundation Stout

Rob emptying sample number, uh... ??? while sporting the pretzel necklace we were handed upon entry. GENIUS!

Rob emptying sample number, uh… ??? while sporting the pretzel necklace we were handed upon entry. Genius!

They even tapped a firkin for us!

They even tapped a firkin for us!

At this point, Rob could have cared less if we hit another brewery. He was content. However, the next stop was Steel Toe Brewing in St. Louis Park. We had just tried the brewery’s Dissent a couple weeks prior at the Pig & Fiddle and were quite impressed.

Steel Toe’s facility was small enough that they only wanted one trolley-full of people in their facility at a time. Our LivingSocial tour guides were fun and sociable. They had trivia and prizes prepared for us on the trolley while we waited for the first group to tour. I learned a thing or two! Like…

Did you the official national alcohol of the United States is Bourbon?!

I had no idea! It sounds like “they” are trying to get that changed to beer. The U.S. does has more craft breweries than any other country.

We loved the time we had talking with the brewer at Steel Toe. He was a laid-back-down-to-earth guy. But come to think about it, really, they all were. I think it’s a requirement to become a brewer.

Steel Toe Brewing.

Steel Toe Brewing

We came away from that place with two Growlers: one of the Dissent Darlk Ale {really, a stout} and another of the Steel Toe Size 7 IPA. Guess that means that we’ll be back! {Every time you purchase a Growler somewhere, you pay a deposit for the glass jug. You can come back for a refill any time!}

Upon arrival back at Pizza Lucé, the LivingSocial staff came around the trolley, offering to take our information down and call cabs for us. Talk about prepared! They wanted to make it very easy for us to get a ride if we needed one.

We had such a good time that we would highly recommend a beer tour with LivingSocial. In fact, I’d recommend any event they offer. Most people think about the half-price restaurant and salon deals, but they really do put together great events. {I did a Champagne pairing dinner once and the food and pairings were incredible!}

We thought that this would have been even more fun if we had invited friends to join us. However, I bought the tickets on a whim the week prior and had no idea that it would be as good as it was. Now we know!

It took one little email offer to find the perfect gift for my husband. One where we could spend time together enjoying a fun experience. Thank you, LivingSocial!

What is your current favorite local brew where you live?

Cheers~
Carrie