Take a walk back in time with The Growler’s editorial team as we recount 50 of the most important and interesting pieces of information we learned from publishing our first 50 issues.
50 Things We've Learned
The Pint Law
In 2011, the Pint Law changed everything for local beer.
Surly Bikes and Surly Beer
Surly Bikes and Surly Beer are different entities, but friendly.
The Beer Scene is Getting Weird
Beer should buoy the conversation at the table, not be the conversation.
The White House Homebrew
The Obama administration made the first documented homebrew at the White House, and shared the recipe with us.
Before Colin Kaepernick went unsigned because of his stance on race in America, Dessa talked with Chris Kluwe about the NFL’s less-than-spiffy reputation when it comes to LGBTQ issues.
A Sustainable BrewFarm
Before breweries in the Midwest were focusing on going green, Dave Anderson and Pam Dixon built a “BrewFarm” centered on sustainability.
Hop Growing is becoming big business in the Midwest once again. The University of Minnesota is on the forefront of hops research.
Over 50 riverside caves in St. Paul held everything from nightclubs, cheese, and mushroom farms throughout the 20th century. That stretch along the Mississippi was called Mushroom Valley.
A 152-foot-9-inch brat
Ptacek’s IGA in Prescott, Wisconsin set the world record for largest brat with their legendary 152-foot-9-inch brat on Labor Day 2013.
When driving south on Highway 33 from the Iron Range, a stop at Gordy’s Hi-Hat is mandatory.
Bartenders are physical laborers who need a bodily wellness regime to stay fit.
The Recession of 2008
Layoffs and job scarcity during the Great Recession of 2008 provided many with the push they needed to follow their dream and open a brewery.
New American Gin
“New American” gin is whatever a distiller wants it to be, provided there’s a little juniper, and the style is making gin one of the most exciting craft spirits categories today.
Somewhere between 50,000 to 200,000 Americans are illegally distilling spirits in their homes.
Today’s Crap Craft Beer
Thanks to slipping standards, a lack of quality control, and the blind faith of consumers in the quality of local craft, a lot of today’s craft beer is crap.
Why St. Paul?
St. Paul is Minnesota’s capital city thanks to rogue representative Joe Rolette who stole the bill that would have moved the capital to St. Peter and straight-up ghosted for 123 hours.
When beer lines aren’t cleaned regularly, calcium oxalate can build up into “beerstones” that produce off-flavors. Calcium oxalate is also found in most human kidney stones.
On average, it takes seven gallons of water to produce one gallon of beer. At less efficient breweries, the ratio can go as high as 10 to one.
Craft brandy has yet to take off because it occupies a strange middle ground – people think of the spirit as either bottom shelf swill or an expensive luxury.
The Secret to Barbecue Brisket
Heed Thomas Boemer’s advice: Don’t wrap a smoked shoulder or brisket in foil when it hits “the stall.” If you do, you’ll lose that crispy bark.
The Mississippi River
The Mississippi River has been dammed into a mangled series of long interconnected lakes. There are some who think the river should be released by removing the locks and dams, effectively restoring it to it’s wild, natural state.
Roarin’ Dan Seavey: Pirate of the Great Lakes
Roarin’ Dan Seavey, pirate of the Great Lakes, might have once murdered somebody with a piano.
A Tender Pork Chop
If you slice a grilled or seared pork chop horizontally into a few skinny medallions before serving, like Paul Berglund, you’ll have cut across the grain of the meat, making it much more tender and delicious.
In cyclocross, heckling riders is not only allowed, it’s encouraged.
Psychology of Road Rage
Psychologically, drivers tend to think of their vehicles as appliances, not as deadly objects. That dissociation is a major safety concern for bicyclists and pedestrians.
Cool Wine Facts
Wines from cooler regions—Germany, Austria, Northern France—spend more time on the vine, which develops complex flavors and maintains the level of acidity that pairs so well with food.
Going Pro in Video Games
Whoever said you couldn’t make a living playing video games lied. The winner of the Street Fighter V tournament at the 2016 Evo Championship Series took home $50,000.
Chickens and Fly Fishing
In the early days of fly fishing, before a huge feather-breeding industry existed, anglers purchased tackle feathers harvested from cockfighting pits.
The Problem With Speakeasies
The problem with running a real speakeasy is that people will show up and do cocaine in your bathroom, then just hang out and not buy drinks.
Tracing Back Food Cultures
Some of your favorite Thai dishes are actually Lao, or Hmong, or… We have tons to learn about the cultural roots of Minnesota’s diverse food scene.
Red Wing: The Bread Basket of the World
In 1873, Red Wing, Minnesota, became the world’s largest primary wheat market, exporting 1.8 million bushels valued at more than $2 million (nearly $40 million today).
Sameh Wadi’s Saffron Rice
Make saffron rice like Sameh Wadi: pour the saffron tea in a swirl, dousing some, but not all, of the partially cooked rice. When it’s done cooking, some grains will be more flavorful than others, making each bite more complex.
Homebrewing on Ice
Homebrewers are making beer all over the world, even in Antarctica.
There are companies in Minnesota using goat grazing to combat invasive plant species.
GMO technology isn’t going away, but organic farming can work in tandem to create a more resilient food system.
Picking Wild Ramps
When you pick wild ramps, only take one in every 10 mature plants you find, cut off the rhizomes, and rebury them. They’ll take years to grow back, but at least they will.
Micro-fishing is an established local subculture of catching and cataloging all the tiny species of fish.
Renaissance Man Michael Koppelman
Badger Hill’s head brewer Michael Koppelman is a Renaissance man. He played bass with Prince, earned a degree in astrophysics, and spotted a gamma ray afterglow from his home-built observatory.
NEIPA is tasty, and you can drink it if you like. But if you drink one you don’t like, you can’t complain about it, because how can you expect brewers to make something that’s perfectly faulted?
Twenty-three percent of people simply don’t get hangovers and science doesn’t know why.
“Rapid-aging” strategies in craft whiskey are less about trying to “accelerate” the aging process and more about trying to produce unique spirits in a crowded market.
Flavor Pairings in Food
Pizza and PB&J sandwiches are basically the same thing when it comes to flavor pairings.
Dorothy “The Root Beer Lady” Molter
At her peak, Dorothy “The Root Beer Lady” Molter was hand-bottling between 11,000 and 12,000 bottles of root beer at her BWCA home each summer.
Spontaneous Fermentation Isn’t Magic
Brewing spontaneous and wild beers isn’t magic. The process is knowable science, and sour beer brewers need to understand it better.
Quality Starts With a Culture of Excellence
“Quality is a discipline. Whether you’re making tomato soup or beer, quality has to be at the heart of what you’re doing.” – Rebecca Newman, Director of Quality at Summit Brewing Company
Krav Maga on Bikes
There are classes in Minneapolis that teach Krav Maga to bicyclists.
Better Grains Make Better Spirits
Better grains make better spirits. Even though the arts of barreling and blending are important to a whiskey, the raw materials are just as important.
Stone Milling Wheat
Stone milling wheat is not only a part of Minneapolis’ heritage, but results in a more flavorful and nutritious grain.
The New York Times Crossword Puzzle
Will Shortz of the New York Times is the only person to earn a college degree in puzzles.
Dangerous Man Brewing
Bigger doesn’t always mean better: Just ask Dangerous Man Brewing, winners of the 2017 Kind-of-a-Big-Deal award for best brewery.