Year in Review: Minnesota Wine & Spirits in 2018

A martini at Nye’s Bar is a fine drink to reflect on the year 2018 in local spirits. In January, this bar, Nye’s in name only, opened in the dust of the demolished Polonaise Room, a place whose divey charm earned it the Best Bar in America designation from Esquire in 2006—a lifetime ago, from the … [ Read more]

A Pocket Full of Rye: How a lowly, northern grain is mounting a comeback through whiskey

Stalks of rye bob in the summer breeze in a field near Cambridge, Minnesota. It is a cereal grass in the wheat family—seeded in the fall, it stays green and patient throughout the winter, then skyrockets in the early spring. It shoots up from the gray, powdery soil, gets a deep tan, and then grows … [ Read more]

Spirits Close-Up: Minnesota Rye Whiskey

There is no shortage of fine whiskey on the planet. What can small distillers offer that the big guys haven’t already perfected? If craft whiskey is a viable enterprise, it has to focus on its one competitive advantage—a luxury brought about by hard work and a local mindset. They need to be choosy with their … [ Read more]

Fooling Father Time: ‘Rapid-aging’ and the future of craft whiskey

The standard formula for whiskey, the way it’s always been done, is this: you fill up an oak barrel with a clear spirit and then you wait. And wait. And wait. Inside that barrel, things slowly unfold. Alcohol seeps into the toasted oak, degrading the polymers that make up its structure. The lignin and hemicellulose in … [ Read more]

Trailblazers 2016

What’s the value of a brewery’s stance on mining? Why be concerned with obscure English apples? What’s so important about a chicken sandwich at a stadium? Why does it matter if a basketball team weighs in on current events? The answer to all those questions is the same: it makes a difference. There are people … [ Read more]

Trailblazers 2016: Michael Swanson and Cheri Reese of Far North Spirits

Kentucky has bourbon. Scotland has Scotch. But if Michael Swanson and Cheri Reese, founders of Far North Spirits, have anything to say about it, Minnesota will have rye whiskey. The distillery located on the Swanson family farm in tiny Hallock, Minnesota (population 981) has been making its grain-to-glass spirits, including Roknar Minnesota Rye Whiskey, which … [ Read more]

Distilling a Definition: What are ‘craft spirits’ and does it matter?

You needn’t look any further than the Twin Cities to see the flourishing craft spirits movement afoot in the United States today, with new distillers taking up residence in old warehouses all around us. As of March of this year, the American Craft Spirits Association (ACSA) reported that there were upwards of 1,300 spirits producers … [ Read more]

The State of Minnesota Whiskey

The Minnesota craft-distilling scene is looking to find its place in the geography of whiskey. With a handful of distilleries now past that two-year mark, it’s nearing the time for many to make the jump from barrel to bottle and start bringing aged spirits to market. Adrian Panther of Panther Distillery in Osakis believes Minnesota’s … [ Read more]

Distiller Profile: Mike Swanson at Far North Spirits

Mike Swanson removes the bung from a cask, sticks his nose over the hole, and sniffs deeply. It’s no use. “I can’t smell anything right now,” he says. “I’m just getting over a cold I came down with on my way back from New York last week. But you should smell this—it’s incredible.” The 92-gallon … [ Read more]

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The Mill: State Fair, Third Bird and other Big Deals

The Mill is ready to get together. And we’ll bring you complete coverage on Thursday’s coming chaos in St. Paul. In the meantime, tell us who is the best in local beer: submit your nominations for Kind-Of-A-Big-Deal 2014. Yesterday’s News: Bent Brewstillery will re-open their taproom this Thursday, August 21st beginning at 2pm. Check out … [ Read more]

The Mill: Beer Week Redux, Art-A-Whirl, Omnibus

By John Garland The Mill has unthawed and now spring has us tumbling through the rinse cycle. But the forecast is looking bright and sunny for Thursday’s Saints home opener (where the Beer Dabbler Bullpen will be pouring some fine local suds). Events Coming Up: Hot on the heels of MN Craft Brew’s 10,000 Minutes, … [ Read more]

Craft Cocktails: The Martinez

A new take on an age-old classic by Erik Eastman, Easy & Oskey Photos by James Eastman Recently I had the chance to catch up with a friend after the holiday madness had subsided and learned said friend was not particularly fond of my favorite drink, the Martini. My companion posed this question: “Maybe I … [ Read more]

The Rise of Minnesota-Made Spirits

After the license fee for small distilleries was lowered in 2011, multiple operations in Minnesota bought stills, sourced grain, and filed their paperwork. Get ready for an explosion of local spirits on the shelves in 2014. By John Garland Scott Ervin of Norseman Distillery fills his bottles of vodka by hand, one at a time, … [ Read more]

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The Government Shutdown and Its Effect on Beer

By Joe Alton and Brian Kaufenberg The government has shut down. We go about our daily lives, accepting that Washington is broken and that this ridiculous stalemate, bemoaned by citizens from every political view, could drag on for a while. While not all of us are affected as directly or dramatically as the more than 800,000 … [ Read more]