Tag Archives: mn breweries

Super Bowl 52 in Minneapolis


As a football fan, I watch the Super Bowl every year.

But I have never lived in a metropolis where the Super Bowl is being hosted.

I come to find out…

It’s a pretty big deal.

The National Guard comes to town.

At cross walks, they block vehicles from plowing over pedestrians.

We all know that whenever a city decides to build a new stadium, they often get help from the NFL by allowing them to host a Super Bowl in the near future, with the expectation that such an event will boost the economy to help pay for the damn thing.

Now, I am a Packer fan living in Viking Country; but I have plenty of MN Vikings fan friends. (Some are die-hards; most are fair-weather. They came out of the woodworks this year!) I was happy for my die-hard fans to get a new stadium. It was long overdue. You can read this fun article about the 12,000-year-old history here.

I haven’t been to US Bank Stadium yet; but I can’t say I haven’t benefited from it’s construction! Perhaps indirectly, but from my paycheck to the Lefse Nachos at Erik the Red {Try them! You’ll be surprised!}, I’ve got to tell you, my life has been enhanced by its fabrication and the trickle-down effect.

But did I know that when a Super Bowl happens, there are festivities All. Week. Long.?

I feel bad for our visitors this weekend. It is a cold, cold weekend… When even the majority of us locals don’t want to be outside. In fact, here are a few things you shouldn’t do in this cold weather.

I was lucky enough to experience some of the festivities last weekend, when it was a balmy 35 degrees in the evening. This is not bad weather when there is no wind, you are shielded by downtown buildings and you are wearing the right clothing. I couldn’t believe I saw people in ski masks. I was just fine in my parka, scarf and mittens!

We were invited by friends on a Friday night and opted to Uber because it was cheaper (and less annoying) than $50 they were charging for parking. We never pay that much for parking here in our Twin Cities. Usually, it’ll be anywhere from $6 to $12. The most I think of paid was $20 for an event. This is crazy!

While downtown, we explored Nicollet Mall… enjoying some of our favorite haunts. But we also got up close and personal with the kitties performing in Hallmark Channel’s Kitten Bowl, watched people ski and tube down the makeshift American Birkebeiner International Bridge and finished the night listening to some free outdoor music.

The following morning, we hit up Hell’s Kitchen for some brunch with some more friends. You. Guys. I didn’t try it, but they have a killer bloody mary bar! I prefer someone to mix up a bloody for me; but this one is impressive and worth at least checking out. {And visitors, that little beer you get alongside is called a chaser or sometimes a beerback. Don’t knock it!}

And for those of you Philly fans needing your cheesesteak fix, our fave Devil’s Advocate has just reopened as a pop-up on Nicollet Mall. But they aren’t quite ready with a full menu yet. Still they are serving that perfect cheesesteak we’ve come to adore {no peppers/onions and cheese sauce, not provolone!} over at Dan Kelly’s Irish Pub where Devil’s has been hiding while they await their new digs. But if you are near the stadium, check out Erik the Red, a sister resto to Devil’s that I mentioned earlier – great beer selection and get those Lefse Nachos! They might be one of the most underrated MN foods that no one is talking about.

The other weird thing about being in Super Bowl country is how everyone seems to want a piece of pie. Some restaurants have been shown to change up their menus and increase prices. $36 Guac and Chips? I think not.

While I can’t vouch that all of our favorite dishes will be available this weekend or that crowds won’t be crazy, here are some of our past reviews and favorites:

Rob’s best burgers and fries lists have not been updated in ages… but I can tell you that the top two burgers go to Parlour (Mpls) and St. Dinette (St. Paul), our top Juicy Lucy is still found at Buffalo Tap in Savage and that the only bar/restaurant missing on our Top 10 Best Beer Selections in the Twin Cities is Ansari’s Mediterranean Grill in Eagan. In fact, you’ll find beers there you won’t find any where else in the Twin Cities.

Want some other, uhem… more professional opinions? Try these:

And if you are really, really cold (and you should be), learn how to Dress Minnesotan. I know I’m seeing a concert at the Turf Club in St. Paul when the majority of attendees are wearing North Face fleeces. Oh yah. You betcha.

If you’ve got anything to add to this list, feel free to let us know!

Oh… and although they aren’t playing in the Super Bowl this year, I’ll end this post in the words of Justin Timberlake, “Go Pack Go.”

Happy Super Bowl weekend!!!


North Shore Brewery Tour – Part II


Happy Thirsty Thursday!

Last week, I started to tell you about the North Shore Brewery Tour I surprised my husband with for our 5-year anniversary. I want to let you know all of the details because the Get Knit company who organized it truly thought of everything down to the last detail. You can read more about them and our first brewery stop here in Part I of the North Shore Brewery Tour recap.


2) Canal Park Brewing

After spending an hour over at Blacklist Brewing {enlightening experience!}, our bus took us off to lunch, where I had chosen to have a…


Canal Park Brewing is a brewpub that offers your standard styles of beer along with American pub fare. Everything went seamlessly upon arrival. Because of the size of our group, they had our samples waiting for us at our tables. Let’s get right down to business!


My fave of this bunch was the Nut Hatchet Brown Ale.

Our food came out immediately, too. We were both so glad we didn’t get the burger! As those were being delivered to our table, they did not look good at all. Rob ordered a Brewskie; with which he was not exactly thrilled. Look at that dry bun.


Brewskie – Grilled Wisconsin-made bratwurst topped with beer-braised onions, served on a bun with IPA mustard

My Hot Chick – a buffalo chicken sammy topped with blue cheese – wasn’t even worthy of a photograph. It was all {ciabatta} bun which made it taste dry. After one bite, I took off the top bun and just ate the {also dry} chicken. The flavors were pretty muted for buffalo and blue cheese.

I did learn a thing or two at Canal Park though!  Here’s why all pubs should use 20 oz “pint” glasses…


And I love this advice…


Overall, we weren’t impressed with the food nor the beer at Canal Park. I’d recommend skipping it if you are doing a brewery tour on your own; but the view from their patio can’t be beat! And on a brewery tour, you need to eat sometime…


For the record, I love porters but couldn’t finish this one. It just Was. Not. Good.


3) Lake Superior Brewing


Next up was Lake Superior. Our tour guides said we’d get an interesting view on brewing from these old-school guys. Rob and I are familiar with Lake Superior Brewing because we’ve seen them around for quite some time. They have been brewing since 1994, before I could even drink beer. 😉


Rob has always chuckled at the labeling of one of their beers:


Black India Pale Ale Ale is a little redundant, no?

They are Minnesota’s oldest micro brewery.


One of the nice things about our Lake Superior stop is that we could sample several beers.

The thing that surprised us most was in what small of a space Lake Superior still operates.


Still bottling six at a time…

Some of the people in our group had become a little tipsy at this point.

Our Brewer/Guide only had a small fraction of our group’s attention…


What interested me most is how jaded the brewer seemed. Jaded and exhausted. I got the feeling as if they’ve been doing this so long and they are still waiting for the money to come in. They only have about six employees and some of them have other full-time jobs! The brewer described brewing as 80% janitorial and 20% inspiration. Our visit to Lake Superior Brewing Company was eye-opening in how much it takes for a brewery to operate.


Will this be some of our other young brewers in 20 years? Does starting a brewery take wealthy investors to grow quickly? Will all the brewers we’ve met over the past couple years during this craft brew craze lose their passion? I’m not sure that I want to know the answer to that.


4) Castle Danger Brewery


I am so glad we made the trek up the North Shore to Castle Danger Brewery in Two Harbors. If we were to put together a beer tour ourselves, we would have not even considered this one because we try to arrange brewery crawls so that the locations are close in proximity to each other. This was a good 20 minutes or so north along the coast; but it was well worth it.

Because it was my favorite brewery of the tour!

Upon arrival at the brewery, we were told that we’d be given samples and then could take an optional tour. The taps were ready for us and I thought I heard the tapper say “bourbon barrel” something or other.

Um.. what?

Yes, they age their George Hunter Stout in Jack Daniels whiskey barrels, which technically isn’t bourbon; but I don’t care. Of course, that is the first thing I asked for as my sample! You know me!


I also love the name: Gentleman George Hunter. Appropriate for a barrel aged beer, no? They also had a Sommelier George Hunter available. Can you guess what that stout is aged in? You got it – red wine barrels!

I politely pulled our tour guide aside and asked him if we could skip the tour and spend some money in the taproom. This was not a problem!

After a few purchases…


We barreled (no pun intended) our way to the bar to buy a beer.


Team Danger took care of us.


I noted the wi-fi password, too.


That Sommelier George Hunter was excellent. I would need to have the Somm & the Gentleman side-by-side to explain the nuances, but Rob said he liked the Somm even better.

Rob disappeared for a bit to get us some nachos from the Taco Box food truck outside. It looked good, but I wasn’t entirely impressed. Your basic nacho chips out a bag.


Instead, I just sat back and sipped that red-wine-barrrel-aged stout in all its glory. Yes, Yes. This is what makes beer so interesting. And I have to agree, Castle Danger does have some:


One thing I really enjoyed about this North Shore Brewery Tour is that the breweries were so different from each other. You’ll see next week why the last two stops on the tour were different as well!

Do you like barrel-aged beers?

If so, what has been your favorite?



MN Craft Beer Week {Food & Fitness Link-Up}


Somehow, someway, Minnesota Craft Beer Week takes place just the week before American Craft Beer week.


It may be Cinco de Mayo, but today also kicks off Minnesota Craft Beer Week, aka 10,000 Minutes of MN Craft Beer. We are lucky here in MN to have gained quite a prominent craft beer scene over the last few years. In fact, our state is number two in the nation in terms of growth. I’m quite pleased to be able to try new beers here in Minnesota; but I also can’t quite keep up. 😉

Today, I thought about posting about all of the craft breweries in Minnesota. Then, I realized, that was quite an undertaking. I haven’t even scratched the surface of all of the beers Minnesota has to offer. And defining “craft” beer is a little complex. When I asked my husband what was his favorite, he went into explaining why one brewery I liked was not considered “craft” and why another was. Seriously? Right now, that is arbitrary.

What really matters is if we’re drinking local.

So as not to make this too complicated, I thought that I’d instead share just a few tidbits based on our experiences – thoughts for the visitor or for the locals who may want to narrow down their choices. You can find the entire list of Minnesota breweries here.

Just Traveling through the Twin Cities?

Got a layover at MSP? You can get a taste of our craft brews at the MSP Airport! According to Thrillist, “MSP’s bars and restos showcase over 15 regional and local breweries.”  You’ll find the bulk in Concourse G in Terminal 1 (Lindbergh) as well as a Local Craft Beer Gear shop with apparel and souvenirs of your favorites!


MN Breweries and Tap Rooms We’ve Visited:

  • Townhall Brewery (Minneapolis) – Established in 1997, this newly renovated brewpub is where we used to go before craft beer was cool in the Twin Cities. They brew their own beer, but serve others as well. It’s time for us to check out the renovation!
  • Excelsior Brewing (Excelsior) – Our favorite? The Mr. Jimmy Ruby Brown Ale
  • Lucid Brewing (Minnetonka) – The Lucid Cammo used to be our favorite DIPA (Double IPA), but since that has gone the wayside, we haven’t found much too spectacular.
  • Badger Hill Brewing – (Minnetonka, moving to Shakopee later in 2014) –  We’ve enjoyed their Foundation Stout best, but I’m curious about the new Traitor IPA!
  • Steel Toe Brewing (St. Louis Park) – This is one of Rob’s favorites. Try the Dissent Dark Ale {Trufthfully, it’s closer to a stout, but I believe there are some proprietary naming rights.}
  • Fulton Brewery (Minneapolis) – You can’t go wrong with anything here. The Sweet Child of Vine IPA is a solid choice, but my favorites are the seasonal Libertine and Worthy Adversary. Even Rob can handle a Lonely Blonde once in a while. 😉
  • Dangerous Man (Minneapolis) – You can only get their beer in their taproom! The Chocolate Milk Stout is the most revered; however, the Hazelnut Porter gets my winning vote. And the Triple IPA is DANGEROUS!


MN Brewery Visits on our Wishlist:

  • Surly Brewing (Brooklyn Park) – This is the local brewery that paved the way for all the MN craft brews to follow. We must get ourselves to the Brooklyn Park location before their new destination brewery opens up in Mpls. While I love the Surly Darkness, I don’t know if I have the patience to wait in line for a bomber of it one night a year like the rest of Surly Nation!
  • Hammerheart Brewing (Lino Lakes) – This brewery isn’t even a year old; but the first time I checked out their beer list, it included a bunch of Bourbon barrel beers. I don’t see them listed now, but they still show unique offerings besides your average/run-of-the-mill styles.


In addition to those listed above, here are some of our other local faves:

  • Surly (Brooklyn Park) – Furious IPA – a solid choice, which you’ll find many places on tap in the Twin Cities if you are visiting.
  • Summit (St. Paul) – Rob enjoys the Sága IPA, while I prefer the Oatmeal Stout. The Great Northern Porter is worth a try, too.
  • Lift Bridge (Stillwater) – Hop Dish IPA – I love a good IPA and I adore this name for a Minnesota Brew. {Hot Dish is a delicacy here. 😉 }
  • Flat Earth (St. Paul) – Cygnus X-1 Porter – Not long after they changed their recipe, I fell in love with this one at an Ike Reilly concert at the Turf Club, {You might get a glimpse of Rob and me in the front row in the Hanging Around video around 3:29 here.}
  • Bad Weather (Minnetonka) – Ominous Midwest Warmer – Usually better on tap than in the bottle.
  • Indeed (Minneapolis) – By now, you can tell that I generally drink darker beers and love a unique brew. My absolute fave here is the LSD Honey Ale. For a winter seasonal, it’s Stir Crazy, hands down.

And if you can’t make it to a taproom {i.e. you are in MN on a Sunday}, many local beers are served on tap wherever you go. But for the best selections, try these places.

Happy Minnesota Craft Beer Week!


Now it’s time for this week’s…planning




  • MondayPork Chops with Butter Sauce and Roasted Vegetables and/or these potatoes because I didn’t actually make this last week.
  • Tuesday – Dinner at my friend Kim’s
  • Wednesday – I found some Portabella & Asiago Smoked Beef Sausages at Aldi. Now the question is if I want to serve them along side the same veg and potatoes as I do on Monday or try this easy Grilled Sausage and Pesto Pasta recipe. Or I could just serve the sausages naked along side this more traditional pesto pasta recipe like I had in Cinque Terre, Italy. Decisions, decisions.
  • Thursday – Cooking for 1: Baked Tilapia with Tomatoes and an easy side. Suggestions?
  • Friday – TBD
  • Saturday – TBD
  • Sunday – TBD


  • Quick & Easy Bowls My favorite combo lately is listed below. I assemble three bowls on Sundays for the week. When I get to work, I just pop it in the microwave at work for a minute or two:
  1. Base – handful of spinach or other greens
  2. Grain/Starch – 1/3 cup cooked brown rice
  3. Protein – 1/3 can garbanzo beans, drained
  4. Veggies – 1/3 can diced tomatoes and sauteed onion and zucchini
  5. Fat – These goat cheese medallions I found at Costco!
  6. SauceRoasted Tomato Dressing



This is the last week of the Couch to 5k! I can’t believe I’m running 20+ minutes straight. I’m slow and it’s so much harder than I remember! But, you’ve got to start somewhere…

  • Monday – RUN: Couch to 5k – Week 8, Day 1
  • Tuesday – Yoga
  • Wednesday – RUN: Couch to 5k – Week 8, Day 2
  • Thursday – REST
  • Friday – RUN: Couch to 5k – Week 8, Day 3
  • Saturday – Golf
  • Sunday – Yoga

What is your favorite local beer and brewery where you live?




American Craft Beer Week!



It’s American Craft Beer Week! As I’ve mentioned in the past, the Official Alcoholic Beverage of the United States is Bourbon. But since there are more craft beer varieties and breweries in the U.S. than anywhere else in the world, let’s make beer the official beverage this week. Mkay? 😉

Naturally, all posts this week will be about beer. Here’s a few little tidbits to start you off…

Recipes with Beer:

Beer Mac & Cheese from Taste of Home

Bacon Cheddar Beer Bread from Suzie at Two Dogs in the Kitchen

Torpedo IPA Cupcakes from Alex at Alex Tries it Out

My Previous Posts on Beer:

How I became somewhat of a Beer Snob

How Craft Breweries started to pop up in the Twin Cities!

Western Twin Cities Metro Beer Trolley Tour

Charlotte Breweries

And for those of you in the Twin Cities:

Are you “man” enough for this beer crawl? {Or do you have a sober cab for it?!}

What is your favorite craft beer?