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Drink in the New Year

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Welcome to 2012!

I hope that you rang in the New Year in the most enjoyable fashion you could muster and that this first week has been treating you well. I had a great time with some close friends and a few tasty beers.

My New Year's Eve treat: A 2009 vintage of Gouden Carolous' 'Cuvee van de Keizer Blauw' (Belgian strong dark ale)

Since it has been so long since my last post, I will fill you in with what has been going on around the Twin Cities craft beer world and look forward to what will be coming next from Brightbeer in 2012.

The whole two weeks prior to and after Christmas found my life pleasantly busy with my birthday coming on the 14th and some busy holiday workdays. For my birthday dinner, I was treated to a delicious (first and last) dinner at Cafe 28 in the Linden Hills neighborhood of Minneapolis. I say first and last meal there because I hadn’t been there before, sadly enough, and even more so because they closed at the end of the year so it was my last chance to do so. Cafe 28 was owned by Todd and Linda Haug (Todd being the brewmaster at Surly and Linda having years of experience in the wine and restaurant business) meaning that they had an excellent tap list (Surly: Cynic, Abrasive, Five, and Darkness) and wonderful cuisine. It was an excellent experience and I can only hope that it will reincarnate in some form in the future. We also had friends over later in the week and enjoyed some special beers, including a 2 1/2 year old golden brettanomyces beer from New Glarus’ R & D series that I purchased from the brewery this summer; it was a very special night indeed.

My most recent Thursday post left you with the knowledge that I would be attending the Surly ‘Smoke’ release on December 19th. Both my girlfriend and I bundled up on a chilly Monday night and made our way to the Red Stag Supperclub for the event. The atmosphere was more formal than other Surly releases, but if you could find a table to sit at and enjoy some of the fine fare it made for an excellent dining experience. Red Stag offered several dishes to pair with ‘Smoke’ and a couple incorporating the beer into the recipe. If you are unfamiliar with ‘Smoke’ (which many people are, being that it is very much a “love it or hate it” beer) here is a background on it: The style of beer is a smoked Baltic porter meaning that the malts are smoked over beechwood in Bamberg, Germany (the home of traditional smoked German beers) then brewed and fermented to around 8% ABV using a lager yeast strain which allows the focus of the flavors to remain on the smoked malt. The result is a pungent “camp fire” and earthy smoke aroma and flavor that encompasses all facets of the beer but does not overwhelm the dark chocolate and raisin characters. The beer pairs very well with roasted meats (particularly ham) and can suit a chocolate dessert also, as the Red Stag showed with their chocolate cake (made in the swiss cake roll style) incorporating ‘Smoke’ into the Bavarian cream filling. All in all, the night was fantastic with many of the Surly Nation regulars on hand. The following day saw the release of ‘Smoke’ in retail outlets to much fanfare, though not nearly as intense as ‘Darkness’.

The ‘Smoke’ release was proceeded by the holiday week which seemed a blur. I was happy to get a short respite from the holiday madness with my family back in Wisconsin. After introducing my dad to a few beers (including Chimay ‘Cinq Cents’, their Trippel, commonly known as ‘Chimay White’) during the fall, he was starting to think seriously about how he viewed beer, especially given that he and my mom are wine connoisseurs. As per his request, I compiled a choice selection (heavy with Belgian Trippels, more on this style in the future) of craft beers for my trip home, and I can now say that my parents have a bad ass beer cellar. We enjoyed Brasserie Dupont’s ‘Bons Vœux’ (or as the bottle states “Avec les bons vœux de la brasserie Dupont” meaning “With the best wishes of the brewery Dupont”) which is their holiday ale, a strong (9.5% ABV) amber/golden ale that is dry hopped. The soft fruit and floral aromas give way to an effervescent, and refreshingly dry citric and earthy taste, truly an absolute treat that can easily match up with most any meal, go grab some if you get the chance.

Leading up to the New Year, an unexpected surprise popped up on my Twin Cities craft beer radar; the (quietly announced) public release of Minnesota’s newest production brewery, Boom Island. Brewer and owner Kevin Welch was on hand at the Pig and Fiddle (no web address yet) to introduce his first two Belgian inspired and styled ales: a pale ale and a strong IPA (8%ABV). I was able to sample each and enjoyed them along with my first trip to the Pig and Fiddle (from the same folks that are behind The Muddy Pig). He will officially be bringing his beers to the retail market on Monday, January 9th from 6-8PM at The Four Firkins in St. Louis Park. If you can make it out, he will have both of the aforementioned beers for sample and sale, presented in 750ml corked and caged bottles. He will join Harriet Brewing as the only two specifically Belgian styled breweries in the Twin Cities. Kevin also has plans to release a Dubbel and Tripel in the near future, and I am eagerly awaiting them.

So that brings you up to speed on some of the exciting happenings in the Twin Cities as well as my personal life. I will be getting back to a more familiar format with my next post focusing on a most seasonal of beer styles: barleywines! Though it has been unseasonably warm and with almost no snow on the ground it is hard to make sense of the fact that we are entering the depths of winter (or are we?). I will be providing some history and context for these high gravity beers as well as discussing details regarding aging beers (as barleywines are prime candidates for aging) and reviewing some popular commercial examples with a special one or two thrown in for good measure. I look forward to seeing you then and to getting this year off to a great start.

Until next week, drink well!


Surly Darkness Review Postponed

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Hi There!

A very long day at work and another one tomorrow has resulted in me having to postpone the post I had intended for today until Monday. That’s about all I’ve got at the moment, if you get a chance tomorrow night you should probably check out the grand opening of The Four Firkins, one of the premier craft beer stores in the midwest, with lots of the “who’s who” in the Minnesota craft beer world in attendance and lots of free high quality beer, event details here. I’ll see you there or I’ll see you at another time.

Drink well!

This Week’s Post: History and Reviews from Schell’s Brewery!

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This Week’s Post: History and Reviews from Schell’s Brewery!


I hope the weekend treated you well and you were able to enjoy some tasty beer. It was quite a busy weekend for me, venturing out to the Surly Brewery on Friday (Darkness Day eve) night to mingle with some of the most dedicated, jolly, and experienced craft beer folks I have ever met, and then touring the Schell’s Brewery on Sunday. The tour provided the inspiration for this week’s post. I will be going over the rich and lengthy history of one of the great American breweries while also sampling and reviewing some of their beers.

This will be the second feature in ‘The Local Mash’ series, focusing on local Minnesota breweries (the first being Olvalde Farm and Brewing Company, see earlier post), and you are in for a treat. I will be posting pictures from the tour and spending some time breaking down their newest (delicious!) release from their ‘Stag Series’, the Burton Ale.

Schell's Stag Series #4: Burton Ale

On another exciting local brewing note, Fulton Beerdebuted their first bottles today and will be doing tasting events throughout the city until Thursday. They released Sweet Child of Vine and Lonely Blonde in 6-packs to area beer/liquor stores, so get out and be amongst the first to enjoy their very tasty offerings in bottles (you will definitely be hearing about these guys from me in the future).

Lonely Blonde

Sweet Child of Vine













Only one more week until Surly Darkness is released to retail stores (to much fervor)! Until then, I hope to sate your thirst with my musings on Schell’s Brewery this Thursday. I look forward to seeing you then!

Drink Well!

Coming This Week: Russian Imperial Stouts

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Label for the 2011 Surly Darkness Russian Imperial Stout


This week I will be going into the history of a particularly exciting and robust style of beer, the Russian Imperial Stout. Along with the history and characteristics of the style I will review several commercial examples.

My inspiration behind this post is the upcoming release of one of the most sought after beers in Minnesota (and the craft beer community in general) Surly Brewing’s Darkness, which just happens to be a Russian Imperial Stout. I will talk a bit about the beer, the hype behind it and will hopefully be reviewing this year’s Darkness in the next week.

Have a great week and I’ll see you on Thursday!

Drink well!

A Sunday funday quick note

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Good Day,

I hope you are enjoying this much needed gloomy Sunday (it has been dry as a bone here in the Twin Cities for about 3 weeks). I just want to drop a quick update note on here, so this will be brief.

In short the Autumn Brew Review was incredible, (here is the program to peruse) thoroughly enjoyed it and had much delicious local and national craft beer. I will be doing a full rundown for my post this week on Wednesday (likely at night) so be sure to check that out.

In the mean time I will upload some of the photos that I took over the weekend. Check out my new flickr account for the pictures. Also, if you want a little bird on your shoulder tweeting about craft beer, follow me on twitter by clicking the icon at the top left of this page. One last bit of shameless social media self promotion (but hey, how else are people going to hear about good beer news unless it’s available in many forms) you can find and “like” my facebook page by searching for “brightbeer” and once I get enough fans I can get a username to create a direct link.

The twitter and facebook accounts will contain links to blog postings as well as bits that are unique to each outlet, so there will be some variety.

Thanks for checking in and I hope that you had a great weekend and were able to do some “homework” (reference previous post). Let me know if you had any especially delicious brews or if you were at the ABR as well, I’d love to know what you thought of it.

Until Wednesday.


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