About Michael Agnew, A Perfect Pint

Michael has a passion for beer. He is Minnesota's first Certified Cicerone (think sommelier for beer) with the Cicerone Certification Program, and a National Beer Judge with the Beer Judge Certification Program. In addition, Michael is himself an award-winning brewer. He writes a monthly column on beer for the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

Hazed and Confused: Defined style or passing fad–examining the fate of NEIPA

In 2009, craft beer was rocked by controversy. A new kind of beer was making the scene. It was dark like a stout, but heavily hopped like an IPA. What exactly was this strange chimera? What should it be called? Was it even a style? Factions formed. “It’s a Cascadian dark ale!” proclaimed one side, … [ Read more]

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The artful science of beer and food pairings

Taste begins with chemistry. Esters, phenols, aldehydes, linear-terpenes, ketones, lactones, thiols, and a host of other compounds lock into olfactory receptors, sending electric pulses through the olfactory bulb and into the inner sanctums of the brain. On the tongue, a different set of chemicals stimulate sensations of bitter, sweet, sour, salty, and umami. These stimuli—smell … [ Read more]

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The Taste Test: Blind-tasting 53 Minnesota IPAs

Blind tastings. If you’ve never done one, you should. Comparing beers of similar style without the biases and preconceptions that come with brand identification is humbling at the very least. It’s mind-blowing at best. Beloved beers fall short of expectations. That much-derided brew suddenly gains new luster. You’re left with the realization that you don’t … [ Read more]

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The thirsty business of beer: How breweries are confronting the industry’s water problem

The pentagon is worried about water. A 2012 National Security Assessment called climate change-induced water shortages the greatest threat to global security. The report warned of impacts on food and energy production, which would lead to political instability and mass migrations as water conflicts erupt between farmers and city dwellers, ethnic groups, and upstream and … [ Read more]

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Crap Beer: Slipping standards & lack of quality control threaten the industry

Let’s just put it out there: There’s a lot of bad beer being made these days. Don’t get me wrong, there is a lot of good beer as well—even some great beer. The rapid expansion of small breweries has brought with it a new breed of innovative brewers cranking out finely tuned beers of all shapes … [ Read more]

Style Profile: Why is it called Belgian Tripel?

“Why is this beer called a ‘tripel’?” I am asked that question a lot. There are nearly as many explanations for the Belgian style designations “single,” “dubbel,” and “tripel” as there are drinkers who love imbibing them. Is it called a tripel because it’s brewed with three times the grain? Is it boiled three times? … [ Read more]

5 factors driving the evolution of Minnesota beer

August Schell Brewing Company marked its 150th anniversary in 2010, a milestone that only a handful of other breweries can claim. The brewing industry has changed a lot in those 150 years: the advent of mechanical refrigeration, the ascension of the first beer barons, Prohibition, industry consolidation, near bankruptcy, and the rise of the craft … [ Read more]

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Style Profile: Pumpkin Ales

Pumpkin beers are a love ’em or leave ’em proposition. Those who love them eagerly await October (or July as is often the case these days). They can’t wait to snatch up six-packs or bombers of the latest gourd-infused grog. Those who hate them… well, they really hate them. Whichever side you fall on, the … [ Read more]

Brewers Association’s Paul Gatza on AB InBev–SABMiller Mega-Deal & what it means for craft beer

The beer world shook with the September 16th announcement that brewing giant Anheuser-Busch InBev was weighing financing options for a takeover of fellow behemoth SABMiller. Rumors and speculation about such a merger have swirled since at least 2008, when St. Louis based Anheuser-Busch was purchased by the Belgian-based InBev in a hostile takeover. This time though, … [ Read more]

Style Profile: American Amber Ale

Fall comes quickly in Minnesota. The steamy heat of August yields almost overnight to the relieving snap of September. The days get rapidly shorter. By the end of the month the first blazes of orange and red are appearing in the trees. September is arguably the best month to be in Minnesota. The air is … [ Read more]

Style Profile: Foreign Extra Stout

Eyes closed, you lie in the sun listening to the waves lapping at the beach. Warm sand cradles you in form-fitting softness. The air is steamy, but a gentle breeze makes it bearable. The quiet buzz of other beachcombers lulls you into a hazy half sleep. Then, a voice startles you back to wakefulness. “Holy … [ Read more]

Style Profile: Kölsch

Germany is mostly thought of as a land of lagers. The brewing of cold-conditioned, bottom-fermented beers is thought to have originated in Bavaria some four to five hundred years ago. Fermentation in cool caves hindered the growth of beer-spoiling bacteria and stimulated cellular mutations in yeast that yielded strains well suited to colder climes. Through … [ Read more]

Style Profile: American Rye Ale

Rye has a spotty past. Even though it’s one of many grains that grows wild in the Fertile Crescent where settled, agricultural civilization was born, rye remains virtually absent from the archeological record until the Bronze Age in Central Europe. Roman naturalist Pliny the Elder, the famed “discoverer” of hops, wrote of rye: “It is … [ Read more]

The 7 Most Annoying Things Beer Snobs Say

The crazy rise in the popularity of beer has brought with it an increase of beer snobbery. It’s not a new phenomenon. Beer snobs have been there all along. But as more and more people get caught up in the frenzy, the level of puffery has definitely inflated. In part it’s just a numbers game. … [ Read more]

Style Profile: Smoked Beer

There once was a time when most beer was smoky. This is because the final stage of turning grain into malt for brewing, called kilning, requires heat. In arid regions, that heat could come from the sun. But in the cool, wet climate of northern Europe, air-drying wasn’t always possible and fire was needed to … [ Read more]