Tag Archives: IPA

Ale Fest 2013

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A few months after we started dating, Rob wanted to teach me more about beer. So on our of our dates, he threw an Ale Fest.” He bought a series of beers that were unique and new-to-me.

This was ten years ago.

Rob and I have been trying to recall what beers we tasted back then. I knew one of his favorite beers at that time was Fullers ESB, but I’m sure he had me tasting that well before Ale Fest. And the closest thing we had to local microbrews at the time was Summit. Rob was lost not having any of the variety that he had while living in Seattle.

I recalled tasting some beers from Unibroue, a Barleywine and maybe something festive or with a vintage.

But Rob, who can hardly remember what I told him yesterday, recalled more specifically:

Now that I look back at that list, I’m thinking… Was he just trying to get me drunk!? 😉

I remember we also tasted the Quelque Chose Ale by Unibroue. I vaguely remember Samuel Smith’s Oatmeal Stout, but maybe that’s just a stout that I remember from those early days and not particularly that evening. Perhaps I’m confusing Sammy Smith’s with Samichlaus…

So why am I telling you all of this… my vague recollections of Ale Fest 2003?

Because when I asked Rob what he wanted to do during his birthday weekend he exclaimed,

“ALE FEST!”

So I present to you…

Ale Fest 2013

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When it comes to our personal Ale Festthere are NO rules! Just as Rob did for the original Ale Fest, we picked whichever beers spoke to us from the shelves. Or they just jumped into our basket. Yes, those are pretty animated beers.

We chose our beers from Zipp’s Liquor in Minneapolis. We’d never been there before, but it had good reviews and was just minutes away from Parka, where we enjoyed Rob’s birthday dinner.

There was a pretty decent selection. We chose about 11 beers, knowing full well that there would be no way we’d finish them all. But we wanted a variety to choose from when we finally sat down to sip.

Before I present these beers to you, I would like to point out that although I feel sort of snobbish about beer, I can’t really describe it. I read reviews on Beer Advocate and Rate Beer and sometimes get lost in the descriptions, as if it’s written in a foreign language.

Now I understand how people feel when I try to describe wine!

Still, I can describe beers at a basic level. I know the difference between ales and lagers. I can describe beers as hoppy or malty and can pick out the coffee and/or chocolate characteristics in porters and stouts. But I still have a lot of evolving to do. Maybe those of you new to beer can appreciate my simplistic reviews.

But as for all you beer geeks out there, please take my descriptions of these beers with a grain of salt. Something else to note: Our Ale Fest is very casual. We relaxed and took no notes. So this is all from memory {or lack thereof as the night progressed…}

Keep in mind that there were also no real rules to the order in which we tasted. This would make me cringe if I saw someone tasting wines in the wrong order! So I’m sure some of you will cringe when you hear about the order of these beers. But just humor us. Mkay?

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#1 – Deschutes Chasin’ Freshies Fresh Hop IPA

Oregon – American IPA – 7.2% ABV – 22 oz bottle for $5.29

I chose to crack open this one first because I actually was thinking a little about order. A hoppy IPA would work much more nicely before any porters, stouts or bourbon barrel fermented beers.

We were interested in this one because it was made with Amarillo Hops – something neither of us had had before. We are huge IPA fans. Although I think my days as an IPA fanatic are coming to an end. It’s those bourbon barrel fermented beers that have been capturing my heart as of late. And I don’t even like bourbon.

Anyway, this beer = not my cup of tea pint of beer. It had a strange aftertaste to me. So much so that it was the first beer in a long time that I dumped out. Sure, I probably would have finished it if I were in a restaurant. But we had just started Ale Fest and I knew there were a lot more beers to go. I wasn’t going to waste the alcohol on this one.

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#2 – Surly Abrasive Ale

Minnesota – Double IPA – 9% ABV – pint-sized can – $15.99 for a 4-pack

Okay, so yes, we have had this one before. But it’s not often on tap. And Rob said he rarely sees it in cans. He snatched it up, as it was the last single left. We are a huge fan of Surly Brewery. In fact, it’s all because of the Surly bill that we have so many craft breweries and taprooms in Minnesota now.

I actually find DIPAs smoother-tasting that IPAs, despite the higher alcohol percentage. Of course, this one didn’t disappoint. YAY, Minnesota!

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#3 Thornbridge Bracia Rich Dark Ale

UK – English Strong Ale – 10% ABV – 1 pint .9 Fl oz for $18.99

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Maybe you can read why this one peaked my interest:

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However, I was a little disappointed. Sometimes I forget how subtle the flavors are in English beers. Drinking all the local American microbrews lately, I’ve hardly had anything English in a while. It was a very, very good beer; but I think I’d spend my $18.99 elsewhere next time.

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#4 – North Coast Grand Cru

California – Belgian Strong Pale Ale – 12.9% – 500 mL bottle with cork for $14.79

This beautiful bottle lured me with wine words: Grand Cru. Plus it had that beautiful gold label and was stopped with a cork. Then reading this on the bottle sealed the deal:

ALE BREWED WITH AGAVE NECTAR AND AGED IN BOURBON BARRELS

Well, you can’t judge a book by its cover, because I just a tad disappointed. It was very good. But I think I’ve been spoiled by the bourbon barrel beers I’ve had at Steel Toe and in Temecula.

C’est la vie. First world problems.

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#5 – Indeed Old Friend Holiday Ale

Minnesota – Winter Warmer – 7% ABV – 500 ml wax-sealed bottle for $10.79

There is something familiar about this wine. I think the description on the back of the bottle says it all:

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It was pretty good. And unique. You can definitely taste the ginger. I’d order it on tap if I happened upon it. But my #1 fave from Indeed Brewing is still their LSD.

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#6 – Indeed Stir Crazy

Minnesota – Winter Ale – 6.5% ABV – 12 oz can for $.65

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Okay, so the sticker right on the can reads “$1.99,” but our receipt reads just 65 cents for this can. Considering that we were charged the $15.99 for the full 4-pack of Surly when we only got the single, I will be a little more careful watching the ring-up at Zipp’s next time.

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I have to say that I like the Stir Crazy. I have since ordered it on tap, too. But the “rich caramel” description is stretching it a little, in my opinion.

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#6 – Boulder Shake Chocolate Porter

Colorado – Porter – 5.9% – 12 oz bottle for $1.99

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Boulder Shake – Chocolate Porter {2nd from right}

This beer tasted just like a chocolate shake! YUM! Yup, that’s all I’ve got.

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#7 – Big City Jamaica Stout

Jamaica – Stout – 7.6% ABV – 12 oz bottle for $1.99

photo 3Apparently, we opened this. I don’t remember it. Rob said we liked it. I can hardly think I wouldn’t. I enjoy most stouts.

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So, there you have it… An account of Ale Fest 2013. Ten years from now {unless the lights go out and we have a (R)Evolution}, I shouldn’t have to think back to what we tried. I’m sure that my palate will have evolved a lot more by then. And I might just be able to describe a beer appropriately…

In any case, I’m sure I’ll still be enjoying every last sip.

Tell me about a unique beer or beverage you’ve tried lately.

Cheers~
Carrie

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Hoppy IPA Day!

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It’s IPA day! So open yourself a cold one. {Well, not too cold, that is. So many people drink good beer at the wrong temperature that you can’t even taste the flavors!}

The India Pale Ale is one our favorite styles of beer. We like the hoppiness. But it’s not for everyone.

Rob once told me the story about IPAs and while they are called India Pale Ales, being that their origin is English. I have since learned that is just an old tale.  The real story is not as fun to tell.

So instead, we will just raise a glass and toast to IPA day!

I find that IPAs are crisp and refreshing and great for hot summer’s day.  They sometimes have aromas and flavors hinting toward grapefruit. I also crave something salty when I’m enjoying an IPA. Although let’s take a look at textbook descriptions and pairings that I’ve collected over the interwebs:

Aromas/Flavors – Citrus Blossom, Grapefruit, Pine Tree {although you won’t always taste what you smell!}

Pairings – Spicy foods to contrast the bitter, buffalo wings, pizza, mild blue cheeses, burgers, curries and carrot cake {I’ve got to try that one!}

And if you really like the hops, you can amp it up a little and try a Double IPA {DIPA}. While these are stronger in alcohol and usually hoppier, for some reason – to me – many of them taste more well balanced.

Some of my favorite IPAs:

  • Rush River Bubble Jack {DIPA = Double Bubble – I love that!}
  • Surly Furious
  • Steel Toe Size 7

Okay, so I’m thinking local right now.

But this one is one my IPA wishlist:

Oh. My. Gerd!

What is your favorite IPA?

Cheers~
Carrie

Pig & Fiddle – Minneapolis {Closed}

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Yeah, it’s been a while since I’ve written a local Restaurant Impression. Crap. I’ve dined so many places I’ve wanted to tell you about in hopes that if you are in the Twin Cities, you’ll visit. And if you aren’t, you’ll be inspired to make similar dishes!

And since it’s American Craft Beer Week, I thought I’d tell you about a place known for beer that we’ve been to a few times… Oh, Crap… Last fall and winter. Yeah, it’s been that long.

Although, winter didn’t end here until a couple of weeks ago this year… Do I get a pass? Pretty please?

The first time we went to Pig & Fiddle, we were invited by our friends Wendy and Tracy:

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Was this really last fall? It couldn’t have been. I was wearing short sleeves and I’m a FREEZE BABY!

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More importantly, check out that chalkboard behind me. That is the constantly changing beer list! They have a wide array of taps. Here is a shot from our second visit to Pig & Fiddle when we sat at the bar:

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Yes! You see Steel Toe Dissent on that list! That is where we discovered it. Steel Toe describes it as a Dark Ale, but we thought it was more like a Stout. {We learned on our Beer Trolley Tour, that that has something to do with rights and trademarks.} Yeah, now just count those taps of craft brews!

But back to our first visit with Wendy and Tracy. That night, Wendy and I opted for a bottle of wine. I KNOW! Pig & Fiddle is known for its beer, and we got wine. But it was soooo good. I love me a good, big, bold Zinfandel and that is exactly what we got:

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Who knew that a restaurant with an emphasis placed so heavily on beer, would have a decent wine list as well? As for the food, the description of this establish on the Pig & Fiddle website reads:

Located at 50th and France Ave. in Minneapolis, Pig & Fiddle is the gastro-pub younger sibling of the Muddy Pig. The beer list is worthy and hefty with 36 taps along with a rural Euro-inspired menu.

Wendy and I both ordered:

GRILLED CHEESE asparagus, chevre, smoked gouda and caramelized onion on sourdough 12

Grilled Cheese
asparagus, chevre, smoked gouda and caramelized onion
on sourdough – 12

I love asparagus, so I liked that addition; but the sandwich didn’t really taste like a grilled cheese. I think I would have called this sandwich something else. It tasted like springtime! But the real star of my plate was the side salad! Sandwiches are served with “a choice of frites, a tossed salad or mashed potatoes.” I read what was in the Main Dish Tossed Salad and knew immediately that it was what I wanted as my side.

TOSSED SALAD aged cheddar, radish, toasted sourdough and shallot vinaigrette

Tossed Salad
aged cheddar, radish, toasted sourdough
and shallot vinaigrette

Can you believe that I loved this salad so much that the grilled cheese was an afterthought for me? I loved the chunks of aged cheddar, the crunch of the roasted sourdough croutons, the perfect blend of mixed greens and the tangy vinaigrette. It’s not very often I have radishes either. Did I mention that I kind of liked this salad? Yup. You’ll find it on our Best of the Twin Cities page!

The boys ordered the burgers:

burger

They didn’t realize it until after digging into their burgers that they weren’t cooked correctly. Rob tends to eat all of his fries first. So, while Tracy made his way through his burger, he just thought it was undercooked. However, when Rob got to his burger and found that his was overdone, we knew what had happened. They placed the burgers in front of the wrong people. Don’t worry! The server and manager made it right for them!

The boys tried a few different brews that night, but the favorite was:

Great Lakes Erie Monster - Imperial IPA

Great Lakes Erie Monster – Imperial IPA

If you don’t like ales that are too hoppy, just give an Imperial or Double IPA a try. It sounds just wrong, but I feel like the imperials and doubles often taste smoother! Yes, there is still hoppiness, but in my opinion, it’s more well-balanced, despite the high percentage of alcohol.

On our second visit, I got the tossed salad as an entree and was happy, happy, happy. Plus that was the night we discovered Steel Toe Dissent.

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Tossed Salad
aged cheddar, radish, toasted sourdough
and shallot vinaigrette
small 6 | large 10

Rob ordered something different as well and was also happy, happy, happy!

POLISH-STYLE PIEROGI mushrooms and sour cream 12

Polish-Style Pierogi
mushrooms and sour cream – 12

Our most recent visit was in January, when we decided to order and do a battle of Imperial Stouts! We wondered if the local Fulton Worthy Adversary would hold up to Michigan-based Founders Imperial Stout. Founders has a tough time making a bad beer.

I honestly don't eve know which one is which now...

I honestly don’t even know which one is which now… {Funny how they were served on Left Hand Milk Stout Coasters!}

The winner? Founders by .0000000001 %. Seriously. They were both that good. If you ever see one of these on tap, order a pint. They are hard to find and once they empty the keg, it’s usually gone!

That night, for food, we switched things up again:

salad

I was debating between this and a British Chicken Kebab. This pita sandwich doesn’t seem to be on their menu anymore. I believe it was chicken curry, but I remember it being pretty light on the chicken. And there is that salad again!

Rob ordered this:

Food

This was a pasty stuffed with beef and gorgonzola. Rob loved it, but I’m not finding it on their menu anymore either. Some items could be seasonal.

Still, looking at their current menu, I’m thinking I need to try this next:

Guajillo Chile Rubbed Rib Tips with rhubarb glaze and Belgian endive. Looks like another trip to Pig & Fiddle is in order!

Happy American Craft Beer Week!

What is your favorite pub fare?

Cheers~
Carrie

Beer & Food Pairings…

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We interrupt the usual Wine Wednesday for a little info on beer, since it is American Craft Beer Week and all…

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Let’s start out by saying that I know nothing about food and beer pairing. Okay, so really I know nothing about it compared to what I know about food and wine pairing. What I do know: An IPA makes we want to eat salty foods! And a nice Chocolate or Oatmeal Stout pairs nicely with chocolate cake… Or it can be a good replacement for chocolate cake. I’ve been known to order a stout as dessert from time to time. 😉

Still, I wonder if true beer snobs cringe when I order X beer and then a meal that ruins the flavor. {I proclaim I’m a beer snob, but don’t really know much more than that I don’t like the run-of-the-mill lights and lagers.} I mean, when I see people ordering a sweet Riesling with their Prime Rib, I cringe… even if I profess that the best pairing is one that you like.

So it’s time I get educated. First, I went to the Google. Not surprisingly, there are many guides online:

Men’s Journal offers a great basic guide.

Beer Advocate allows you to search by cuisine, type of cheese, meat or course.

You can download a Food & Beer Paring Chart at CraftBeer.com.

Still, just like wine, I know that to really learn and understand beer and food pairings, you need to experience them. So, who wants to be my company? I’m looking for a beer dinner to attend this summer! If a brewery out there wants to sponsor me, I can most certainly write about my experience. 😉

Otherwise, a beer and food pairing night may just have to be in the works. It helps to have a guide, though…

Lastly, here is a recipe for Blue Moon Orange Chicken from Kristin at Iowa Girl Eats. I’m not sure that Blue Moon is considered craft beer because it is mass produced, but I love it just the same. I can’t wait to try out this recipe!

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What is your favorite beer and food pairing?

(Beer and Pizza does not count!)

Have you been to a beer and food pairing dinner?

Happy American Craft Beer Week!

Cheers~
Carrie

Charlotte Breweries

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Did you know that National Beverage (containing alcohol) of the United States of America is Bourbon? Yes, Bourbon. We learned this on the Beer Trolley Tour we took in December. We were told that “They” are trying to get this changed to craft beer. There are more craft beer varieties and breweries in the U.S. than anywhere else in the world!

And guess what? Next week is…asdfad

When we visited our friends in Charlotte, North Carolina, it was North Carolina Beer Month!

TripC-NC Beer Month

And, boy, did we celebrate! Tay and Brendan took us on a tour of the city’s breweries. I never knew that North Carolina was such a brew-happy state! First, we sampled some great local beers while dining out… First at Mac’s Speed Shop, then at Mellow Mushroom. {Not to mention the beer we stocked up on for back at the house!} The Mellow Mushroom Beer Menu stated,“North Carolina boasts more craft breweries than any state in the American South.”

Let us compare with some of those other southern states, shall we?

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Each numbered black dot represents a brewery! It looks like there are at least 80!

Now check out Alabama:

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Not quite as many, you think?

Even Tennessee and South Carolina have considerably less:

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Quite a difference, don’t you think?

Hooray for North Carolina! While breweries are popping up quickly everywhere across the country, it seems North Carolina breweries do really have their mark on the map. We had the opportunity to stop at five of them!

Brewery Stop #1 – Four Friends Brewing

Our first brewery stop was on our second night in Charlotte after dining (and consuming a few beers) at Mellow Mushroom.

This taproom reminded me of the ones that we have visited in Minnesota… Kind of off the beaten path, nothing too fancy, just a garage opened up for tasting. The dog above was just one of the dogs we saw, met and petted. Most of the breweries we visited were very dog friendly. We LOVE this!

At Four Friends Brewery, I had my first Jalapeño Beer!

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Tres Hombres Jalapeno Beer

Nothing else looked interesting to me that night, so I almost just ordered a glass. Everyone warned me that I should sample it first. I loved it! And I did order a glass. {…With one of the brewers in the background, tee hee!} Some said that the jalapeno was a little too much for them, but I found it very well balanced. If you’ve ever read my posts on cooking like a Homesick Texan, you’ll know that I like heat in terms of spice, not necessary overbearingly-hot. And this is exactly what this beer offered. Plus, I had never had a jalapeno beer before… Why not try my first one in North Carolina, of all places!?

Rob says that this place was the least commercialized of the ones we visited and felt more like you were stopping at a friend’s place, who just happened to have a back warehouse where he made beer. 😉

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The next night, we continued our beer tasting tour of Charlotte…

Brewery Stop #2 – Birdsong Brewing Company

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I like the bird logo. Can you point it out?

Birdsong Brewing is located in the NoDa (North Davidson Street) area of Charlotte. The nice back deck was crowded with folks sipping brews. Inside, we pulled up seats to the tasting bar and listened to some music by a guy strumming a guitar with Eddie Veddar’s voice. I found the ambiance quite relaxing, something people might not associate with a taproom or brewery.

But look again closely at the photo above… They had a Jalapeno Beer, here, too! Why hadn’t I been introduced to these before Charlotte? However, here, I went with the Lazy Bird Brown. I just wanted something different from the IPAs, porters and stouts I’d been enjoying as of late.

Look at the photo above for a third time. I wondered why a brewery wouldn’t offer flights (small pours of samples of some/all of their current beers). It seemed a little strange to me. However, before I emptied my glass, the bartender flipped the sign over to read “flights.” My guess? They were out of sample glasses! Once washed, they can offer them again.

With our glasses empty, we had no problem sauntering over to the next brewery, as it was right next door!

Brewery Stop #3 – NoDa Brewing Company

Appropriately named, considering it is located in Charlotte’s historic arts district of the same name, no?

Building Mural at NoDa

Building Mural at NoDa Brewing Company

This place was packed! We threaded our way through the crowd to the bar to find this overwhelming beer menu!

NoDa beers

Beers on Tap? Beers in the bottle? Kombucha? Guest taps? Where to begin! Eventually, I chose the CoCo LoCo, a porter made with organic coconut. While I would never turn it down, there’s something a bit better about the Kona Brewing Company Koko Brown I had in Hawaii. Maybe it’s just location, but coconut does really take me back to Hawaii, not usually North Carolina! {On another note, the Koko Brown has proven to be a somewhat lucky poker beer for me since I’ve found it on tap and in bottles in Eagan!}

We spent much of the time outdoors, although it had just rained, sipping our brews in the cool air away from the crowds:

Rob and our lovely hosts Tay and Brendan

Rob and our lovely hosts Tay and Brendan

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We hopped in the car to make the five-mile trek to hit the last brewery (of the night).

Brewery Stop #4 – Triple C Brewing Company

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Sure, it looks like the night is just beginning as we make our way to the door. However breweries and taprooms in Charlotte generally close at 8 or 9pm. I think this is a good thing. Most don’t serve food. And people need food before and/or after consuming a few too many beers.

The first thing I noticed at Triple C was the TV screen connected to their beer menu:

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Since Charlotte is the home of NASCAR, it’s only natural that they’d be televising races right next to the beer menu! Since there were two IPAs on tap, Rob and I decided to order one of each for comparison.

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Greenway and 3C IPAs

You can’t tell because of the color of the table behind them, but these two IPAs were very different in color. Which one did I like better? I have no idea. We were having too much fun… listening to this band {which happened to include an old friend Brendan hadn’t seen in a while!} and sitting at this long table….

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… And taking blurry, cheesy photos of ourselves!

We did do just one more brewery… but for brunch the following day. Come back tomorrow to read about our Heist Brewery Brunch!

All I can say is that after this fun beer tour, Rob and I think we are ready to do this one in The Cities. Well… almost.

What is your favorite local brewery and why?

(It just make our must-do list while traveling!)

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