St. Paul Oktoberfest

Just like the Munich original, St. Paul Oktoberfest is held mid-September. Our kegs of Paulaner beer are imported directly from Munich and include Paulaner Oktoberfest Wiesn (brewed once a year for Oktoberfest), Paulaner Oktoberfest Märzen, Paulaner Hefe-Weizen, and Hacker-Pschorr Münchner Dunkel (dark).

Saturday activities include Dachshund races and musical entertainment, from traditional polka music to Minnesota Opera singing German arias. Strong men and women can compete in Steinheben (stone lifting), the only competition of its kind in the U.S.

Admission is free. ID and $5 wristband is required for alcohol purchases. Produced by the Germanic-American Institute (GAI), proceeds support the GAI’s mission to connect people to a broader world through German language and culture.

St. Paul Oktoberfest

Just like the Munich original, St. Paul Oktoberfest is held mid-September. Our kegs of Paulaner beer are imported directly from Munich and include Paulaner Oktoberfest Wiesn (brewed once a year for Oktoberfest), Paulaner Oktoberfest Märzen, Paulaner Hefe-Weizen, and Hacker-Pschorr Münchner Dunkel (dark).

Saturday activities include Dachshund races and musical entertainment, from traditional polka music to Minnesota Opera singing German arias. Strong men and women can compete in Steinheben (stone lifting), the only competition of its kind in the U.S.

Admission is free. ID and $5 wristband is required for alcohol purchases. Produced by the Germanic-American Institute (GAI), proceeds support the GAI’s mission to connect people to a broader world through German language and culture.

Deutsche Tage (German Days)

Partake in wurst, beer, and Lebenslust, the Germanic word for enjoying life! Toast your friends with Paulaner beers, Germanic wines, Jägermeister, or a special cocktail by Dampfwer, and drink, and goods for sale. $3 wristband required for alcohol purchase.

Deutsche Tage (German Days)

Partake in wurst, beer, and Lebenslust, the Germanic word for enjoying life! Toast your friends with Paulaner beers, Germanic wines, Jägermeister, or a special cocktail by Dampfwer, and drink, and goods for sale. $3 wristband required for alcohol purchase.

Holiday Open Haus

Get in the holiday spirit German-style at the Germanic-American Institute’s annual Holiday Open Haus.

Sip our famous Glühwein (hot mulled wine) or a beer in front of the firepit. Savor German specialties including Currywurst, Aki’s pretzels, and Kartoffelpuffer (potato pancakes) with apple sauce or sour cream and smoked salmon. Activities and entertainment, including German model trains, will provide holiday fun for all ages.

Everyone is welcome to share German culture and Gemütlichkeit! Admission is free, and there will be food, drinks, and goods for sale. Visit gai-mn.org for more details.

Holiday Open Haus

Get in the holiday spirit German-style at the Germanic-American Institute’s annual Holiday Open Haus.

Sip our famous Glühwein (hot mulled wine) or a beer in front of the firepit. Savor German specialties including Currywurst, Aki’s pretzels, and Kartoffelpuffer (potato pancakes) with apple sauce or sour cream and smoked salmon. Activities and entertainment, including German model trains, will provide holiday fun for all ages.

Everyone is welcome to share German culture and Gemütlichkeit! Admission is free, and there will be food, drinks, and goods for sale. Visit gai-mn.org for more details.

My cousin Ulli: A quest for non-traditional beer in Germany and Belgium

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Jim Hulbert (right), with his German cousin Ulrich, or “Ulli,” at the Kölner Dom in Cologne // Photo courtesy of Jim Hulbert

Like many natives of the Midwest, I am part Rheinländer German. My mother’s family is from Trier, a city near the border of Luxembourg; they were captains of riverboats on the Moselle and the Rhine. I graduated as a German major at the University of Iowa and studied for a semester in Göttingen, then in West Germany. That means I happily began my experience with German beer in Niedersachsen (Lower Saxony) almost 60 years ago.

My family’s homeland, from Trier to Koblenz, is a valley of riesling grapes. Most Rheinländer comfortably divide their loyalties between riesling wine and a tasty beer. My relatives have nurtured and picked riesling grapes for generations. During family reunions in the fall, we sample the crisp, half-dry (not the sweet) riesling wines produced at small wineries along the Rhine.

On these visits, my cousin Ulrich, “Ulli,” and his wife, Waltraud, who are both retired executives and live within walking distance of downtown Bonn, welcome me with their gemütlichkeit and hand me the key to their home. Ulli usually spends two days getting me back to German-fluency, and we drink good beer and eat classic Rheinländ fare at Zum Treppchen, just around the corner. Waltraud also makes world-class Rhenish meals—I still remember her pasta and fresh-that-morning Steinpilze (porcini) mushrooms from a previous visit.

In the past few years, I have described to Ulli the exploding craft beer movement in the States, and especially in the Twin Cities. He’s become intrigued by my accounts of Urban Growler Brewing Company, in St. Paul, and uses it as a lens to see how the American market welcomes development and creativity in beer. More generally, he lauds the growth of a beer movement that goes beyond his country’s 500-year-old purity standard (the Reinheitsgebot), which mandates that beer should contain only barley, hops, water, and yeast.

Our mutual interest in the industry, in Europe and America, led Ulli to suggest and then plan a brief tour of traditional and not-so traditional breweries and brewpubs (Brauhäuser) in Belgium and northern Germany. We planned to find worthy brewers and great beers, traditional and craft-brewed, in two of the world’s most über-traditional brewing countries, with the same commitment to creativity and quality that is already characteristic of the brewing community in Minnesota.

The New and The Old

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De Halve Maan (The Half-Moon) is tucked into the historic and beautiful city of Bruges // Photo courtesy of Jim Hulbert

After my lengthy trip from Minneapolis–St. Paul to Keflavík (Iceland) to Frankfurt, a 200-mph rail trip on the Intercity-Express north to Siegburg near Bonn, and a night’s rest, Ulli and I were ready to begin.

Our first visit was to a local suburb, Pützchen, and a 7,500-square-foot warehouse where Fritz Wülfing is working to develop a market for his craft Ale-Mania beers (a play on the Latin word for Germany) which includes a tasty IPA (the Germans simply say “ee-pah”) and his gose made with coriander and bitter-orange zest (apfelsine). Thinking of Urban Growler’s CowBell Cream Ale, I thought that Fritz’ gentle and still adventurous gose could be his “transition beer,” introducing lifelong German purity-standard drinkers to the wider world of freed-up craft beers.

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Fritz Wülfing (left) of Ale-Mania in Pützchen, Germany // Photo courtesy of Jim Hulbert

Surprisingly, our next visit, to 19th century brewery De Halve Maan (The Half-Moon) in the historic and stunningly beautiful city of Bruges, in the Wallonia region of Belgium, also provided us with some coriander-and-apfelsine-flavored beer. After a thorough, highly entertaining, and educational tour, the guide taught us to cool each glass to the temperature of the beer, draw a pint with an optimal head, and not ever to spoil the taste of a pint or liter by topping-off the brew. Their helles (light) and dunkel (dark) tripel were inspirations.

Tempting the beer gods, I decided to bring home a bottle of minimally filtered and unpasteurized De Halve Maan Helles Tripel. On the advice of our tour guide, I have planned to let it rest unmolested in the beer fridge before a neighborhood tasting in October.

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Jim Hulbert in Cologne with Tünnes and Schal, two legendary figures from the Hänneschen Puppet Theater in town // Photo courtesy of Jim Hulbert

Next was a tour of the mountainside Steffens brewery in Linz, Germany, on the banks of the Rhine south of Bonn, which brewed its own light and hopped lager. Our tour included a discussion of the unique qualities of the water and the intense competition within the German beer market that makes it difficult for craft brews (mikrobrauereien) to pick up a share. Our guide, the brew master, spoke almost non-stop for an hour.

We next visited a shop in Bonn selling premium German beers, including the new craft beers emerging in the national market. One of the ads mentioned the high quality of the water in the volcanic region of the southern Rhineland area of the Eifel Gebirge (Eifel mountains). Several of the local parks contain crater lakes within ancient volcanos where people can camp and rent small sailboats. Andechs is a popular brand, as is the smoked beer (known as rauchbier). Even with the German craft beer market in its infancy, the variety is outstanding.

After other samplings, we made our way to the Trier region, and just north of the Autobahn to Bitburg and the long-established Bitburger Brewery. With several horse farms dotting the area’s rolling hills, this must be a meaningful reward to American servicemen and women posted at the nearby U.S. airbase. We enjoyed a somewhat generic tour and sampled the famed “lawnmower beer,” helles Bitburger lager. I’ve tried the beer in St. Paul, but this time around, in Germany, I discovered it to have a more robust hoppiness and a better flavor overall. The guide agreed. “To ship our beer to the States, we have to filter it much more intensively than we do the European beer,” he explained.

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Ulli at a cafe in de Haan, Belgium // Photo courtesy of Jim Hulbert

The guide also commented on the competition anticipated from mikrobrauereien and, after our conversation, gave us a brochure describing Bitburger Brewery’s planned entries into to the German craft beer market (under the Craft Werk Brewing label), listed below along with their descriptions translated from German. (Note that the varieties of yeast are not given. None of these four beers appears to depart from the purity standard, although the influence of Mandarina Bavaria hops might be similar to the effect of shavings of apfelsine zest.)

Craft Werk Hop Head IPA // Photo via Craft Werk website

Skipping Stone – Summer Ale (4.8% ABV). A golden, with hop varieties from the recent past, will take you back to the ‘70s. Pilsener and caramel malt; Hersbrucker Spät, Hallertauer Mittelfrüh, Brewers Gold, and Nordbrauer hops; and “yeast.”

Hop Head IPA – American India Pale Ale (8.0% ABV). Intense herbal aroma and taste; a set of seven varieties of hops that will turn the head of every true hop-head. Pilsener, caramel and Munich malts; Cascade, Centennial, Chinook, Herkules, Taurus, Magnum, Simcoe hops, and “yeast.”

Holy Cowl – Belgian Style Tripel (9.0% ABV). Beer inspired by the beers produced at Belgian monasteries, but definitely not holy. This beer will bring you to your knees! Pilsener and caramel malt; Perle, Hallertauer, and Tradition hops; and “yeast.”

Tangerine Dream – Single Hop Pale Ale 5.8% ABV). A refined fruity taste of Mandarin-Orange hops of Bavaria explodes on your tongue. (Pilsener, caramel and Munich malts; Wheat malt; Mandarina Bavaria hops; and “yeast.”)

Our final evening with Ulli’s son, Peter, was spent in Cologne (Köln) at four brewpubs, two massive establishments with hundreds of happy imbibers, and then two more moderately-sized establishments. Brauhaus Päffgen was our final Kneipe (“tavern”). These are the sites for pilgrims seeking the true kölsch, served in small, narrow glasses and immediately replenished. Keep sipping and the beer in front of you is always cold. We finished the evening and the trip, riding the train at midnight back to Bonn with shouts in the distance of crowds approving a score in the UEFA European Championship.

So what do I know now about European beer that I didn’t know before?

1. Belgian beers offer the most established and entertaining beers, unfettered as they are by a central European market defined by an old purity standard. That said, a tripel, and certainly a quadrupel, are not session beers. Drink responsibly. One bottle of these Belgian brews is the whole party.

2. Higher-quality European beers need to be gently transported by air to the States before most imports can be taken seriously. Unfortunately, this would increase their retail pricing.

3. Brauhaus Päffgen in Cologne is a prime destination.

4. European beers I was familiar with back in the U.S. really do taste better in their hometowns. The experience taught me to opt for local beer that is offered in a relatively unadulterated draft form. Stateside, that includes expertly developed and brewed Minnesota beer.

The Glockenspiel restaurant and bar to close for good this Wednesday

Glockenspiel

Sad news this weekend for St. Paulites with a hankering for German beer as the West 7th Street fixture The Glockenspiel announced it will close its doors Wednesday night.

In a post on the company’s Facebook page, The Glockenspiel explained the building’s landlord and the restaurant, which leases the first floor corner space of the Czech Slovak Protective Society Sokol Minnesota building, could not come to terms on renewing the lease.

To our Glock Family and Friends,
At no surprise to us, we received a notice on 11.19.15 from our Landlords the CSPS…

Posted by The Glockenspiel on Sunday, November 22, 2015

 

According to a report in the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal, The Glockenspiel was barred from purchasing alcohol for the bar since October when the Minnesota Department of Revenue added the business to its list of tax delinquents.

The restaurant thanked all of its patrons that came for authentic German food and beer over the last fifteen years of operation. The restaurant’s last day of full operation was this past Sunday, but they will open the bar one last time this Wednesday from 3–10pm so patrons can hoist one last stein and say goodbye.


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GermanFest 2014 VIP Ticket Giveaway

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The first-ever GermanFest will be held in St. Paul at the Historic Schmidt Brewery on West 7th Street on Saturday, June 21 from 10am–10pm and Sunday, June 22 from 10am–7pm. Celebrate German culture with authentic food, quality beers and traditional Music.

Enter below for your chance to win four (4) tickets to Friday, June 20 VIP Party. VIP Tickets include a collectible GermanFest mug, unlimited German food and beer, wine, soda and water. The traditional German beer on tap includes 6 varieties of Paulaner and 4 varieties of Schell’s and premium wine provided by Big Top Liquor. Live entertainment by Alpenstern from 7PM–10PM will have you ready to dance the night away.

Homebrew Recipe: Müncher Hell

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Brewing up a good kind of Hell.

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This recipe appears in Michael Dawson’s book, “Mashmaker: A Citizen-Brewer’s Guide to Making Great Beer at Home.” Learn more at mashmakerbook.com.


The upside of this long-ass winter’s polar vortices, citizens, is ambient lager temps in unfinished basements and attached garages. This month, let’s harness Mother Nature’s apparent hatred for us by using it to cold-ferment a noble Bavarian lager to enjoy outside on a lawn when the grass finally does green up. Our target will be Munich Helles, a pale lager with a definite malt inflection that hails from, oddly enough and contrary to expectation, Munich.

To add some historical context to what at first glance might look suspiciously like “yella beer,” let’s take a cursory look at what was going on in the brewing world of Munich in the 1890s: its heritage was in rich, dark malty lagers—Dunkel and Bock—but Pilsner, the hoppy golden lager from the neighboring Czech state of Bohemia, was setting the world on fire. What IPA is to today’s craft beer market is a tamer version of what Pilsner has been to the global beer market since its advent in the mid-1800s.

Not wanting to lose out, Munich’s brewers tried unsuccessfully to replicate that success with a pale, hoppy lager of their own. But the water in Munich is drastically different than the water in Bohemia, and while ideal for dark and malty, it was not suited to hoppy and bitter. So they settled for a pale, malty lager (Helles, or Hell, means “light” or “pale” in German), and it has been filling Krugs and Masses and Willibechers ever since.

Going By the Numbers

Helles’s stylistic aspirations are evident in the overlapping pale color (3–5 SRM) and Vollbier  (“full beer”) OG range of 1.045 to 1.051 it shares with classic Bohemian-style Pilsner. However, it has a much lower bitterness of 16–22 IBU—just enough to create balance with the malt. Helles has a higher alcohol content (4.7–5.4% ABV) than typically seen in a BoPils thanks to a characteristically German emphasis on attenuation and low finishing gravity.

What Makes It Tick

As anyone who’s been to a Munich beer hall can attest, Helles is meant to be put away—quaffability is a defining characteristic. That emphasis on attenuation is key—“malty” isn’t the same as “sweet,” and with its potentially very low bittering-to-gravity ratio, Helles can be at risk of turning flabby, cloying, and filling if a dry finish isn’t planned for in the mash and fermentation.

The sweet, grainy, slightly pastry dough-like aroma and flavor of a good German Pils malt is both the Eddie Van Halen and the David Lee Roth in Helles, but just like the guys in the band who are not Eddie and Dave, hops are also on stage, just in the back. A low-level hint of hop flavor supports rather than competes with the malt, and the bitterness is kept to a murmur.

Apart from that, Helles is an elementally simple style: Pilsner malt, noble German hops, a Bavarian-style lager yeast. With an ingredient list that short, the quality of the raw materials is very important, and any defects or disruptions of the process tend to show through. It’s a challenging style to brew, but that just makes swilling half liters in the presence of appreciative friends all the better. Come on, wir brauen.

 Related Post: Homebrew Recipe for Orange Tripel

A Recipe to Try

Müncher Hell

Target OG: 1.049
Target IBU: 21

Shopping List

Grain

•          8.5 lbs Weyermann Pilsner malt

•          4 oz Weyermann Carafoam

Hops

•          1 oz Hallertau Mittelfruh hops (or equivalent; see below)

Yeast

•          A Bavarian or Munich-style lager strain—I am going to use Wyeast 2487 Hella-Bock, my all-time favorite strain for Helles

PRESS RELEASE: New Belgium Brewing to Release Summer Helles

New Belgium Summer HellesFt. Collins, Colo., March 26, 2014 New Belgium Brewing has released Summer Helles, the brewery’s summer seasonal. It was originally created to celebrate the 40th anniversary of both Telluride’s famed Bluegrass Festival and Rockygrass Festival. Due to its popularity at those events, New Belgium decided to give more people a chance to enjoy Summer Helles and made it the latest seasonal.
The beer style, Helles, was born in the 1890’s in a Munich brewery and means “light” or “bright” in German. Summer Helles, a traditional German-style lager, is definitely light but has a substantial body with delicate malty flavors, perfect for summer.The aroma is full of fresh grains, spicy hops and sweet corn and honey reminiscent of Honey Comb cereal. New Belgium added some lager yeast to the brewing process to create a crisp finish with slightly fruity, apple-like esters that don’t mask the spicy, herbal hops and toasty malts. Summer Helles pours a bright gold color with a slight sheen and nice white foam.

“Helles is a style we’ve always enjoyed playing around with,” said Grady Hull, New Belgium’s Assistant Brewmaster. “People really loved it in the festival setting because the drinkability is hard to beat. It pairs well with spicy and savory foods but you could also chase down a butter rum ice cream cone with equally great results.”

For additional food pairings, you can match Summer Helles with a dish like pork chops and peaches served with couscous. The bright, bold and sweet flavors in this dish are the perfect fit for the malty sweetness of the beer. Grilled trout and potato salad pair nicely as well, along with a squeeze of lemon to accentuate the flavors of the fish and counterpart the beer.

Summer Helles carries the pleasant sweetness of pale and German Pils malts, and levels off with the light and noble bitterness of Hallertau and Tettnang hops. It is 5 percent ABV and 21 IBUs, finishing crisp and dry. Summer Helles is available in 12-oz. bottles and on draft now through July, or while supplies last.

To find locations where New Belgium is sold, visit the libation locator at www.newbelgium.com/beer/locator.aspx and to learn more about New Belgium visit www.newbelgium.com.

About New Belgium Brewing Company 
New Belgium Brewing, makers of Fat Tire Amber Ale and a host of Belgian-inspired beers, is recognized as one of Outside Magazine’s Best Places to Work and one of the Wall Street Journal’s Best Small Businesses. The 100% employee-owned brewery is a Platinum-level Bicycle Friendly Business as designated by the League of American Bicyclists, and one of World Blu’s most democratic U.S. businesses, and a Certified B Corp. In addition to Fat Tire, New Belgium brews nine year-round beers; Ranger IPA, Rampant Imperial IPA, Shift Pale Lager, Snapshot Wheat, Sunshine Wheat, 1554 Black Lager, Blue Paddle Pilsener, Abbey Belgian Ale and Trippel. Learn more atwww.newbelgium.com.

Schell’s Brewing Company Bock

THOMAS_SchellsSchell’s Brewing Company Bock

ABV: 6.1%

Why has bock fallen off the craft beer radar? Leave it to Schell’s to admirably keep this German style alive and well. This beer pours a gorgeous, shiny brown/copper capped with an off-white head, which doesn’t hang around for long. Bock is meant to be sweet and rich and the Schell’s version delivers. It smells of peanut brittle and grandma’s homemade caramels with an essence of canned peaches. There is a sweet, nutty character coupled with a brown sugar sweetness and maple character. Nurse one of these by the fireplace with some ginger snap cookies and forget about the temperature outside!

 

Reviews by Thomas Liquors
1941 Grand Ave, St. Paul, MN 55105
651-699-1860

Food With Beer—From the Brewer’s Perspective

This edition of Deep Thoughts explores the delicious, delicious interplay between food and beer

By Dave Hoops

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This issue, we are going to touch on beer and food, two topics I sure love. My name is Dave Hoops, Master Brewer at Fitger’s Brewhouse in Duluth, Minnesota. In this issue we address two of my favorite topics: Food and beer. People that love great food have been pairing wine with meals for centuries. In the last 50 years or so, many have realized that beer—not wine—may be the best match for a great meal.

Beer has many components that complement food. Beer is made with barley (which adds sweetness), hops (which provide bitterness), yeast (which lend those characteristic “bready” flavors), as well as spices, nuts, chocolate, fruits, and vegetable notes. When thinking about how to pair beers with your meals, there are a few guidelines to consider.

Flavors—Complementary or Contrasting

•          Pairing a spicy meal with an IPA that boasts lots of hop flavors is an example of flavors complementing each other.

•          Pairing a Belgian White (with orange and spice flavors) with a chicken dinner is an example of using very different flavors that can make the meal interesting.

Most folks know the usual rule of thumb from the wine world: red wine goes with meat and white with fish and poultry. I will put some beer styles into this example.

•          Light Body Beers (Lager, Pilsner, Wheat): These pair well with cheese, fish, grilled pork or chicken, light pasta dishes, and Asian cuisine.

•          Medium Body
 Beers (Ale, IPA, Bitters): These pair well with burgers, wings, Mexican food, pizza, steak, and spicy food.

•          Heavy Body 
Beers (Stout, Porter, Barleywine): These pair well with smoked foods, BBQ, stew, chili, salty foods, oysters, chocolate desserts.

Now that you have read a very general beginners guide, you can start having fun. I’m remembering one of my most unique food and beer experiences and shall recount it to you here.

Food and Beer Around the World

A few years ago I traveled to Germany to attend the Brau, considered the largest brewery trade show in the world. During this trip I sampled many amazing German beers and of course the local fare. We visited a town called Kemmern located about 20 miles outside Bamberg in Bavaria. The American friend I was travelling with had previously worked at the brewery in Kemmern called Wagner-Bräu, which like many small breweries in Germany, served the local region and of course had the pre-requisite keller. We were welcomed with great fanfare and I was treated to one of the best food and beer experiences of my life. From my notes:

•          First course: Chanterelle soup, a mushroom soup with a fruity earthy aroma. Paired with Wagner Ungespundetes Lager. A young unfiltered slightly sweet lager beer.

•          Second course: Schmaltz, rendered fat used for frying or as a spread on bread. This spread had small pieces of pork in it and we had Franconian wood oven bread to slather it on. Unbelievable stuff, my mouth waters thinking of it. Paired with Wagner Pils, a traditional slightly hoppy dry lager.

•          Third course: Fränkische Bratwurst. A thick, coarse sausage, common to the whole Franconian region. This was served with a potato and cucumber salad. Paired with Wagner Cuckoo, a smoked beer.

Related Post: Why I Love Hops

We didn’t have dessert, but I know I also tried Wagner Wheat, Wagner Country Beer, and Wagner Marzen that night. Clearly I was there for the beer and truly loved it, but I will never forget that meal. The environment, the simple, amazing fare, the perfect blending of flavors. This is what beer and food is about. I could go on and on describing similar meals and flavor pairings I have discovered over the years. But I will spare you.

My advice is: Drink and eat what you like. You cannot go wrong on this path. Try Apricot Wheat with bacon and eggs, try Edmund Imperial Stout with brownies, try Surly Furious with spicy Thai food, and try Indeed/Northbound Hotbox Porter with brats and pickles. My point is, experiment as often as possible. When you get very comfortable with trying new beer and food pairings then you can start cooking with your favorite beers.

My Current Favorite Food-and-Beer Recipe

64oz     (growler) Wildfire Lager

(Wildfire is a hot pepper lager brewed with six types of chilies. Four hatch varieties, Serrano, and habanero.)

8                      Chicken breasts de-boned

1lb                   cherries, Montmorency variety

Fill a big bowl with the beer, chicken, and cherries. Cover and keep cool for 24–36 hours. Remove chicken and strain liquid into a saucepot. Bring to a boil, then hold at a simmer to create a reduction. This can take a few hours. Start your grill, salt and pepper the chicken, and grill at low heat. When finished cooking, cover the breasts in the wildfire reduction. You will thank me for this.

I hope you all enjoyed these thoughts on the world of food and beer pairing. Remember, the sky is the limit. What tastes good is good. I will leave you with my current five favorite everyday food beers.

•          Sierra Nevada Pale Ale

•          Fitger’s Brewhouse Park Point Pils

•          Bent Paddle Black Ale

•          Summit Saga IPA

•          Schells Brewery Grain Belt

Thanks for reading. Please feel free to email me at [email protected] or read my Fitger’s Brewhouse news and beer-centric thoughts on Facebook at Hoops Brewing.

Cheers,

Dave

Wrath of the Keller: The story of the Minnesota State Capitol’s lost rathskeller

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The rathskeller at the Minnesota State Capitol // Photo courtesy of Minnesota Historical Society

The rathskeller at the Minnesota State Capitol // Photo courtesy of Minnesota Historical Society

 Even accounting for home state favoritism, Minnesota’s State Capitol is the most beautiful architectural specimen of the fifty. The dome is nicely proportional, while some have seriously mutant dome shapes. The white marble on the outside is the perfect background for the golden Quadriga above the main entrance. The grand stairwells, vast paintings, and colored marble features draw the eyes upward toward the government chambers and then to the spectacular rotunda. The architect, Minnesota’s own Cass Gilbert, was one of the most important neoclassical architects of the era, and even with the Supreme Court building and New York’s Woolworth Building to his credit, the Capitol may be his most perfect design.

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I spent a lot of time in the Capitol during 1985, when I worked as a Senate intern. The back stairwell, which was reputed to be the longest unsupported staircase in the world, went all the way down to the tunnels, some hearing rooms, and the cafeteria. Somehow, years of seeking efficiency rather than beauty had turned a vaulted cellar into a utility basement where architectural character went to die. While convenient, we almost never ate there. Our group preferred to go into the neighborhood in search of flavor—and sometimes a beer. While the Minnesota craft beer scene had yet to emerge, more and more imports were finding their way behind local bars. There was a place a few blocks away that had Whitbread Ale, which was a rare find at the time. If only we could get some malt and hops right there in the Capitol.

A Blind Tasting beer festival

Taste & Rate 48 Minnesota Oktoberfests

Sept. 20, 2019 | 5:30–9pm
Upper Landing Park
Tickets: GA $40 | DD $20