Girl Scout Cookies & Beer Pairings

It’s the most wonderful time of the year – stocking your Girl Scout Cookie stash!! We’re pairing some of our favorite Girl Scout cookies with some of our favorite OMNI beers.

Here’s the line up:
Caramel DeLites with Muddy Runner – Coconut Porter
Smores with Daily Dose – Coffee Cream Ale
Lemonades with Loonacy – Belgian Strong Ale
Peanut Butter Sandwiches with Hefeweizen – German Wheat

From 12pm – 5pm on March 10th and 17th we will be serving paired cookie and beer flights for $12–that’s only $2.00 more than our normal flights!

If you would like to take a full box and full growler home with you, you will be able to do that too because cookies will be for sale these days too. The cookie sales will go to support local Brooklyn Park and Champlin troops go to summer camp.

Stay connected with the Facebook event page.

Girl Scout Cookies & Beer Pairings

It’s the most wonderful time of the year – stocking your Girl Scout Cookie stash!! We’re pairing some of our favorite Girl Scout cookies with some of our favorite OMNI beers.

Here’s the line up:
Caramel DeLites with Muddy Runner – Coconut Porter
Smores with Daily Dose – Coffee Cream Ale
Lemonades with Loonacy – Belgian Strong Ale
Peanut Butter Sandwiches with Hefeweizen – German Wheat

From 12pm – 5pm on March 10th and 17th we will be serving paired cookie and beer flights for $12–that’s only $2.00 more than our normal flights!

If you would like to take a full box and full growler home with you, you will be able to do that too because cookies will be for sale these days too. The cookie sales will go to support local Brooklyn Park and Champlin troops go to summer camp.

Stay connected with the Facebook event page.

Birdie announces three nights of beer dinners with Bang Brewing


The culinary adventures at Birdie, the chef’s table annex of the Eat Street diner, Nighthawks, are soldiering on without Landon Schoenefeld. But as any diner who’s experienced Birdie knows, the shop is in good hands. The powerhouse trio of Brittany St. Clair, Jessi Peine, and Tlanezi Guzman has been running the show since long before Landon’s departure, and the multi-course, multi-hour dinners at Birdie haven’t lost a step.

Just announced, a three-day residency for Bang Brewing at Birdie. February 16-18, the tasting menus will feature pairings with Bang’s lineup of clean, balanced ales from Midway St. Paul.

“Bang is exactly the kind of artisan producer we want to work with,” says Birdie’s Charlie Johnson. “Their beers are all organic and their environmental philosophy and stewardship are role models for responsible food producers everywhere. ”

Tickets for the dinners are available on Birdie’s website.

The Mill Post Bottom Graphic

A Brewmaster’s Guide to Thanksgiving Beer Pairings

Thanksgiving Beer Pairings 2 (2)

Thanksgiving Table // Photo by Dave Nakayama, via Flickr (graphic added)

The turkey is in the fridge, the guest bedroom is clean, and the grocery list has been checked and double-checked. With the dinner menu set, it’s time to turn your attention to more important things: beer pairings to complement the bounty that is Thanksgiving dinner.

Lift Bridge brewmaster Matt Hall // Photo courtesy of Lift Bridge Brewery

Lift Bridge brewmaster Matt Hall // Photo courtesy of Lift Bridge Brewery

While the spreads may vary from household to household, Thanksgiving is a meal of traditions. Some will toast marshmallows on their sweet potatoes, others will serve baked yams, and the temperature and consistency of cranberry sauce is an argument likely to cause a minor stir between in-laws.

The beauty of a traditional Thanksgiving plate is how each of the individual elements have their own distinct flavors, but they all blend together to create the rich, buttery, savory, sweet eating experience we all know and love.

The balance—or lack thereof—on your plate can help determine the ideal beer pairing for your meal. Is turkey your centerpiece or does stuffing get top billing? Identifying the one or two Thanksgiving-day dishes that you love most can help to narrow down which beers to drink with your meal.

As a graduate of the Siebel Institute and a veteran of the brewing industry, we asked Lift Bridge brewmaster Matt Hall to offer pairing suggestions from both his Stillwater brewery’s lineup and his other favorite breweries from around the region.

Here’s what Brewmaster Matt had to say:


farmgirl-6packLOWLift Bridge Farm Girl Saison

“Hints of orange along with spicy notes from the yeast complement turkey and add to the overall flavor or the meat.”

Steel Toe Size 7 IPA

“At the same time, I like an IPA with turkey […] I think Steel Toe’s Size 7 has nice citrus notes that go well with the caramelized skin and juiciness of turkey.”

Pork sausage sage bread stuffing with celery

Hop DishLift Bridge Hop Dish IPA

“You have citrus, herbal notes, bitterness, carbonation, and then the higher alcohol level that’s going to help cut through the fatty richness of the pork. There’s a pine character to play well with the sage and the beer provides the perfect wash-down to level out the heaviness of the stuffing.”

Schell’s Firebrick Vienna-style Amber Lager

“A great all-around beer. There’s a nice maltiness to it and it’s a little drier. That malty note would go well with stuffing […] The nuttiness and malt notes would complement it, and [Firebrick’s] not overly sweet so it would cut through the fat.”

Cranberry sauce

rush-river-uber-alt-6Lift Bridge Farm Girl Saison

“I eat mine on top of the turkey. I like the drier, higher carbonation of Farm Girl to cut through that sweetness and to get the orange notes to balance out and complement the tart cranberry of the sauce.”

Rush River Über Alt

“This beer is pretty malty but with plum, raisins, dark fruit, and some spice notes to it. That dark fruit would also go really well with cranberry sauce and would hold up to the sweetness.”

Sweet potatoes with toasted marshmallows

chestnut-hill-6packlowLift Bridge Chestnut Hill Brown Ale

“I would put Chestnut Hill with sweet potatoes and marshmallows. There’s vanilla, cinnamon, and brown sugar in our sweet potatoes, and with cinnamon and allspice in the beer, it’s a counterpoint and complement. The nuttiness gives some of the same qualities you’d find in the yam.”

Indeed Yamma Jamma Harvest Ale

“Yamma Jamma kind of screams out at you when you’re talking sweet potatoes. Unlike pumpkin beers, Indeed does well with a light hand on the spices. It’s a pairing of like ingredients.”

Pumpkin pie

Lift Bridge The Warden Milk Stout

“Warden milk stout has a chocolate malt and some roasted notes. The lactose sweetness and subtle chocolate and coffee complement the pumpkin—especially with whipped cream. The creamy texture also matches that of the pumpkin.”

Summit Great Northern Porter

“Its dark coffee-like flavors would go well with the spice, sugar, and earthiness of the pumpkin.”

After dinner

commander-500 copyLift Bridge Commander Barleywine

“The Lift Bridge family tradition is a stand-alone after-dinner bottle of Commander. We open it, gather around a fire, and play games while we fill our goblets. Let it warm and sip on it as the perfect ending to dinner as everybody is digesting and undoing the top button on their pants.

“At 12.5% ABV, it has a lot of vanilla, coffee, caramel notes, citrusy with dark fruit and tobacco. As homebrewers, it was always a Thanksgiving beer that brought everyone together and we continue that tradition today.”

14 Things to Help You Tolerate Valentine’s Day

Pages: 1 2 3 4

By Grace Sell


Whether single, in a relationship, or “it’s complicated” – we were all struck by Cupid’s arrow the moment we tasted our first heartbreakingly-good craft beer. Here at The Growler, we may not be the most romantic kids on the block, but we do know love when we see it – just like we know a good beer when we taste it. So love it or hate it, Valentine’s Day is just around the corner and we have put together a list of 14 dinners, gifts, beers, performances to help you tolerate the week. Many of the events include beer, but not all.

Related Post: Romance Built On Beer

1.) Chowgirl’s 4th Annual Locavore Love Affair

LocavoreLoveAffairChowgirls Killer Catering is opening the doors to their Parlor in Northeast Minneapolis and inviting you and your Valentine in for their Locavore Love Affair prix-fixe four course dinner. Made with locally available, organic, seasonal, and sustainable ingredients.

Start out the night with appetizers, which include a shot of velvety butternut squash bisque followed by a delicate Massachusetts sea scallop with sour cherries and fried shallot atop a parsnip puree. The salad course will be a kale chiffonade studded with blood orange and toasted almonds in a citrus-white balsamic vinaigrette. For entrees, guests can choose between Grassfed Osso Bucco — a marrow-filled bone-in beef shank served with a red-wine demi glace sauce, or Arctic Char — a firm yet delicate, grilled cold-water fish served with a Pernod Buerre Blanc. Vegetarians can opt for a torte of seasonal vegetable and Servecchio Parmesan. All entrees will be served with organic creamy grits and roasted seasonal vegetables. For dessert, diners will be treated with an individual Meyer lemon pie and two perfect Rare Rose honey bon-bons.

Speaking of Mademoiselle Miel. . .

2.) Saint Paul Made Honey Bon-bons from Mademoiselle Miel


Legend has it that Cupid dipped his arrows in honey before aiming them at unsuspecting lovers. This Valentine’s Day, give your sweetheart one of Mademoiselle Miel’s Valentine’s Day honey bon-bons. The collection includes three flavors; The Classic Rooftop, Rare Rose, and Lemon Zest, all made of 100% Italian chocolate. Each bon-bon is intentionally made in St. Paul with an array of pure rose or lemon oils and local honey.

Don’t just give your honey a box of chocolates from the grocery store. Purchase your chocolates online or directly from Mademoiselle Miel’s Honey Kitchen & Showroom in St. Paul at 342 Kellogg Boulevard West from 3 pm to 9 pm on Friday’s. Or these following locations wher Mademoiselle Miel’s sweets are sold: Surdyk’s, Heartland Market, The Walker Art Center Shop, Sugar Sugar, Minnesota Honey Company and Golden Fig.

No Regrets from Snowshoe Productions on Vimeo.

Animal Allies’ Valentino

3.) Support the Animal Humane Society by Eating Dessert

Give the animals a little lovin’ by ordering one of Pizza Luce’s delicious desserts this Valentine’s. 100% of the proceeds will be donated to the Twin Cities’ Animal Humane Society and Duluth’s Animal Allies. This just in, you have a new Valentine! His name is Valentino and he’s the most handsome  mastiff-mix you’ve ever seen. This loverboy enjoys long walks on the beach and giving you lots of kisses. He’s available for adoption in Duluth at Animal Allies, so what are you waiting for?

Have your cake and eat it too by ordering a dessert at any of Pizza Luce’s seven locations. Don’t plan on getting off the couch this Valentine’s? Don’t worry. They deliver.

Ham Hock Ravioli and Badger Hill Three Tree Rye at the Gray House

Food Meets Beer Finds Plenty to Love at the Gray House

By Jason Walker, The Heavy Table
Photos by Jamie Schumacher

Local diners know both food and beer, and if up-and-comers like Gray don’t deliver on both accounts, it’s splitsville.

Growing up in a booming beer city can do a lot for a young chef.

At 28, Ian Gray, chef and owner of newly opened LynLake gastropub The Gray House, already puts out a killer menu. From housemade cheese crackers to savory entrees, tempting tartares and toothsome desserts, it’s obvious the guy knows food.

But he also knows that it’s not enough to have a great menu. To truly succeed in the gastronome’s paradise that the Twin Cities are becoming, a taut, well-crafted beer list must be available that admirably complements the food. Local diners know both food and beer, and if up-and-comers like Gray don’t deliver on both accounts, it’s splitsville.

Not to worry. When I visited The Gray House early this month, it was clear after a few bites and sips that Gray and bar manager Kevin Goodman have it under control. Case in point: our first pairing, a tuna tartare with lemongrass vinaigrette, fresh ground cherries and celery root alongside Epic Brainless on Peaches, a Belgian-style ale aged with peach puree in wine casks. The peach aroma is immediately soothing, and its succulent, juicy profile mingles beautifully with the fattiness of the tuna. It’s savory and sweet in all the right places, particularly thanks to the thump of the sour cherries.

“Using the cherries in this dish is a good example of our concept,” Gray said. “We use chalkboard menus so we can cook with what’s coming up at the farmers markets, and then try to really work with the seasonal beers. The seasonals are the pride and joy of the brewer.”

Fruit beers and Belgians often carry at least some citrus overtones, but not here. That’s why it pairs well with the lemongrass and ground cherries in the tuna – it’s snappy and pleasant, and absolutely refreshing.

“You get the sweet from the beer and the savory from the tartare, then the lemongrass fuses it all together and functions as the binding agent,” Goodman said. “There’s the stuff brewers do to pay the bills, and then Brainless on Peaches is the stuff they do for the love of the game.”

Another satisfier was Gray’s pressed chicken, a dish he originally created during his last job as chef at Trattoria Tosca. Rubbed with garlic, shallots and red pepper flakes and served with pan sauce, the chicken went perfect with a lighter choice, Minnetonka’s Lucid Air. Here, the pan-fried chicken burst with every bit of flavor it could muster, and the spices provided just enough of a tangy kick to make it sing. Its simple elegance of essentially fried chicken with gravy was half grandma’s cast-iron skillet, half Julia Child.

“When the skin is just right and the veggies are there, the pan sauce is just bread-worthy,” Gray said.

Which is why the Air is a good choice. Lucid’s American pale wheat ale doesn’t need to stand up to the juicy chicken, it needs to refresh and provide more desire for another bite. The Air is an all-day drinker, “a good beer-flavored beer,” as Goodman put it, and was a great way to enhance, not overpower, the subtle spices in the dish.

“A good pairing comes from that balance between heavy and light, those notes of what the beer and the dish actually are,” Gray said. “You don’t want sweet with sweet. And then really think about what’s going on with seasonal beers and what foods are available in the seasons.”

The Gray House’s six taps will focus on up-and-coming local beers, and there will be a lengthy bottle selection.

“We’re going to have a lot of Lucid, Badger Hill and Flat Earth,” Gray said. “Hopefully we’ll eventually get HammerHead out of Lino Lakes, 612Brew and Indeed.”

Goodman, the bar manager, said he and Gray held a lot of meetings to discuss what beers would properly complement Gray’s food. Goodman said he looked for round, full-bodied beers that had a balanced mix of flavors: not too hoppy, not too malty. And as a longtime friend of Gray and having eaten his cooking for years, Goodman was ready to dive right in.

“Since he brought the Gray House idea to me, I’ve been thinking about pairings so much, I’ve even been trying to figure out what the best beer would be to go along with the mac and cheese I just made. It’s just been a game-changer in my brain.

“As a bartender, you’re always going to get the guy who always drinks the crappy American beer; well, we don’t have any of those. We have so much more going on, we want to open people’s minds a little bit. We want you to get more out of this than just a burger and a beer, and at the same time you don’t have to pay that much for it.”

Killer Pairing #1

Ham hock ravioli with fig port reduction, bleu cheese butter and pickled red onions, paired with Badger Hill Three Tree Rye.

Another dish from Gray’s time at Trattoria Tosca, the well-textured ravioli and smoky hocks need a beer that can stand up on its own. Badger Hill’s Rye does the trick, as its plentiful malts and balanced hops give the dish a potent companion. Yet the ale isn’t overly alcoholic at 5.2 percent ABV, so you can enjoy plenty of flavor without getting knocked over if you have a couple.

The ravioli is complemented with a sauce of red onions, cinnamon, figs and ham hock stock. It’s pretty unique, and for all its pedigree, not overpowering.
“I got the ham hock idea when I was at Cafe Lurcat, where they did a ham hock glaze but threw the ham hocks away,” Gray said. “So once I got to Tosca and remembered those hocks, I was like, ‘That’s a dish!’ They’re smoked right over the state line in Wisconsin, then we braise them with parmesan rinds, chilies, tomatoes, carrots and chicken stock just to give it a little more support.”

Gray plans one fresh pasta and one ravioli every day, and all will be made in-house.

Killer Pairing #2

Banoffee pie paired with Lucky Bucket Certified Evil

The restaurant is inspired partly by Gray’s wife, Katie, and several trips they’ve made to Britain to re-visit her heritage. Given that focus, plus a dedication to British-style easy-drinking beers, the banoffee pie fits right in.

“This is the closest to an English dish we have,” Gray said. “It’s more modern and with an Indian influence – ours has banana, toffee, condensed milk, house-made pastry shell, with caramelized bananas in butter and brown sugar with goat’s yogurt and a little mint. The goat’s yogurt makes it really tangy, and that pungency melts right into the banana.”
The dessert illuminates the natural sweetness of the banana, and it really works well with the espresso notes of the Certified Evil, a hoppy, dark Belgian-style ale from Nebraska’s Lucky Bucket Brewing. With hints of raisin and molasses in the beer, as well as the toffee and tang of the pie, the pairing really blurs the line between drinking and eating. The flavor notes just melt together.

“When I first had this beer, before I even had heard of banoffee pie, Kurt (Welshinger, Gray House employee) tasted the beer and was like, ‘Banofee pie would work with this,’” Gray said. “It goes so well with the coffee and malt on your palate.”

“The beer is really malty on its own,” Goodman said, “but paired with the banana and cream the hops shine through.”


Anise Braised Beef Short Ribs with Brau Brothers Sheephead at Ngon Bistro

Food Meets Beer supports small business during LRT construction on University by visiting Ngon Bistro

By James Norton, The Heavy Table

Hai Truong, the chef/owner of Ngon Bistro in St. Paul, radiates the grounded intensity found in those who have arrived at their careers in a roundabout but ultimately purposeful manner. Truong trained in economics and worked as a stockbroker for five years before returning to the kitchen hearth at which he was raised.

Hai Truong, the chef/owner of Ngon Bistro in St. Paul; Photos by Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

“I couldn’t do the cube life anymore, it was sucking the creativity out of me,” he recalls. “I said I was done, and I didn’t have a plan. I just did odd jobs for about a year and a half until this fell into place.”

“This” is Ngon (pronounced “Nong”), one of the most singular restaurants in Minnesota. Ngon takes traditional Vietnamese flavors and recipes and imparts cosmopolitan twists that are understated – the direction of his food is dictated by seasonal produce and local meats, rather than an effort to chase the latest gastronomic buzzword.

Truong opened Ngon about five years ago in the same University Avenue building that once housed

Photo by Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

Caravelle, his father’s first restaurant. Despite its traditional roots, Ngon’s farm-to-table approach to food is cutting edge, and its short but sweet all-Minnesota beer list that would make any serious brew fan salivate intensely.

“The local, sustainable food is just based on how we shopped at the farmers market – it came together really easily, it wasn’t a big deal,” says Truong. “We wanted to create an extension of what we do at home. And that’s true for the beer too – I was a homebrewer. I brewed all the time.”

Lest you think that this is going to turn into Truong bragging up his contest wins or “could’ve been the next Summit” mastery of brew – it isn’t.”

“There were tons of … explosions!” he says, laughing. “Geysers of Belgian blueberry flying up … because it’s been overfermented… ‘Well! There were a little more sugars in those blueberries than I thought there was.’ We lost literally half the beer that time – it shot two stories.”

“The beer list is an extension of my love for beer,” he adds. Truong spent time working at Great Waters Brewpub in downtown St. Paul, and that experience burnished his appreciation for the stuff. “I used to hang out with the brewers all the time,” he says. “That’s where the local Minnesota beer focus came from. There are plenty of other places that do everything else.”

Photos by Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

While the beers at Ngon tend to be well-rounded and approachable, there’s nothing simple about the list, or Truong’s taste in brew. The restaurant was one of the first locally to sport a full-time in-house firkin of cask ale, and Truong makes an effort to support brewers who aren’t afraid to take risks.

“I really liked Jeff [Williamson, formerly of Flat Earth]’s style,” Truong says. “He would go for broke. If you hated it, it was good that you hated it, because you tried it. He would just try things that were fun. A lot of other people play it too safe.”

It’s no coincidence that his other mainstay brewers – Surly, Lift Bridge, and Brau Brothers – are all as known for pushing the envelope as they are for their professional approach to the craft. For Truong, the beer list is a document that’s always in motion, and is shaped by his personal relationship with the men and women who make his beer.

“When I first tried CrossCut [a pale ale by Lift Bridge], that was absolutely my favorite beer,” Truong says. “It had a nice grapefruit finish, and there was this wonderful dryness right at the end. When they switched to [brewing at] Steven’s Point [from a previous co-brew with Flat Earth], the filtration took out all the grapefruit. It was too clean. The last batch, I asked: “Did you just make this maltier?!” And they were like [here Truong adopts a hangdog voice of resignation]” “Yeah.” I think it’s just a great relationship.”

Truong’s relationship-driven approach to beer manifests in his dining room in a physical manner. Artisan Atom Pechman of Form From Form created a unique tap system for Ngon – each tap is topped by a letter, and the letters together spell out “Local Beer.” It’s subtle, but magnetic once you’ve laid eyes upon it.

The clean, simple lines of Ngon’s bar and dining room echo the balance of the restaurant’s food and beer menus, a harmony that Truong has thoughtfully cultivated.

“With Vietnamese food, there’s always a combination of hot, and cold, and bitter – like vinegar,” says Truong, who says that pale style beers often best complement his food. “It presents a balance – one doesn’t take over the other, and there’s a clean finish. You don’t drink the beer and forget what you just ate, and you don’t eat the food and forget what you just drank.”

“One of the beers I really like is Flat Earth’s Northwest Passage,” says Truong. “The finish is very dry, there isn’t that sweetness to it. It’s excellent with pho.”

KILLER PAIRING #1: Anise-braised beef short ribs on rice with Brau Brothers Sheephead

Anise-braised beef short ribs on rice with Brau Brothers Sheephead, Photos by Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

 The rich, absurdly tender, deeply spiced meat is the heart of this dish, but all the other pieces of this layer-cake of flavors do their part. Pickled vegetables on top impart a sour kick, a layer of arugula cools and cradles the meat, and warm, soft, delicate, rice adds an almost creamy note of comfort to the dish as a whole. “[Brau Brothers] Sheephead [ale]  has a malty sweetness that goes very well with the strong, earthy, spiced meat,” says Truong. The beer underscores the luxuriousness of the meat without gilding the lily, but it’s also sufficiently well balanced and mellow that it doesn’t mask any of the interplay from the rice or veggies.

KILLER PAIRING #2: Scallops with mango chutney with Lift Bridge Farmgirl 

Scallops are gentle, soft-spoken creatures that need diplomatic escorts – thus the sprouts and mango chutney that finish this perfect summer dish. Likewise, the beer that rides shotgun to this light (but oh-so-gently jungle funky) dish needs to be both easy-drinking and have a point of view. Lift Bridge Farm Girl Saison acts like rocket fuel for this dish, providing a sparkly wash of excitement and energy without crushing its understated flavors.

The Heavy Table is a daily Twin Cities-based magazine passionately telling the stories of food and drink — from roots to table — in the Upper Midwest.

James Norton ([email protected]) is the co-author of a book about Minnesota sandwiches and the people who eat them, the co-author of a book about Wisconsin’s master cheesemakers, and a daily video blogger for His latest book is a guide to the food and restaurants of Minneapolis and St. Paul called the Food Lovers’ Guide to the Twin Cities. Norton has written about food for Culture: The Word on Cheese, Salon, Gastronomica, Popular Science,, Minnesota Monthly, and City Pages (as a weekly restaurant reviewer).