Ryan Tuenge

Ryan Tuenge is an avid home brewer and craft beer lover who is not afraid to spend his last $5 on a pint of beer at the local pub. As a member of the Minnesota Home Brewers Association, Ryan has tried a wide variety of beers and has toured many of the local breweries. He also has a blog about craft beer in Minnesota. He likes to read, write and travel with his wife. Follow him on Twitter @lodgefather.

The Four Firkins Expanding

Posted by: Ryan Tuenge under Beer, Beer, Local business Updated: April 18, 2014 - 11:56 AM

The little store that started on Minnetonka and Texas has come a long way in nearly 6 years. Thanks to a dedication to customer service and the craft beer boom here in Minnesota, The Four Firkins is looking to bring their model to the east side of the metro (Woodbury) and beyond. 

Woodbury was chosen for the second store partially based off a zip code study that they conducted last year. “Years of study go into something like this, and our customers come from all over the metro,” said Four Firkins owner Jason Alvey. Another factor is that Woodbury is surrounded by largely populated areas such as Maplewood and Hudson, Wisconsin.

In order to accomplish this expansion, The Four Firkins is asking for help from the community in the form of a crowdsourcing campaign. The campaign is on Indiegogo, a platform similar to Kickstarter, where an individual makes a pledge toward a cause and gets something in return. Some of rewards offered are access to special release beers; a plaque with your name on it, which will be on display at the SLP store; in-store beer education classes; and even dinner with the owner.

Crowdsourcing seems to be the way of the future, and it also allows for someone to raise capital while retaining full ownership. The traditional way to raise capital is to invite investors in to take on ownership. This, however; was not what Alvey wanted. “Small businesses do not have piles of cash, it’s just not realistic,” said Alvey. Retaining ownership was a priority for him, whose store is the only one in town dedicated strictly to craft beer. When asked why they chose Indiegogo instead of Kickstarter he had this to say, “We didn’t know how it would be received so we didn’t want to risk a Kickstarter campaign. Kickstarter is all or nothing where Indiegogo gives you the money even if the goal is not reached.”

They are looking to open 3 more locations in the future after the Woodbury store. This, however; is the only campaign planned—meaning that the second store will be able to help them raise the capital to open the third store and so on. So far, it has been well received by many, having already raised over $24,000 of the $50,000 goal, but there is only a week left in the campaign.

The campaign itself raised a stir on the Beer Advocate forum, where a thread was created, bashing the choice to go with crowdsourcing over traditional investors. The critics claim that The Four Firkins charges more for their beer than most stores in town already. “We sell our products for a fair price,” said Alvey. “We don’t believe in needlessly de-valuing local craft beer.” The store was the first to join the Minnesota Craft Brewers Guild—a sign of their commitment to local beer—often giving breweries feedback on their products. Some stores around the Twin Cities will buy a large volume of beer nearing the end of its shelf life just to offer it at a discounted rate. At The Four Firkins, they don’t do this, “It’s incredible the stuff in some of the stores you see,” said Alvey.

Despite the fact that everyone has a right to voice their opinion, the arguments against crowdsourcing seem a bit harsh considering that other local businesses have used this model to fund things such as restaurants and coffee shops. Two, in particular, that come to mind are Travail and the Birchwood Cafe. Alvey noted, “Either way, we have to get the capital. This gives our customers an opportunity to be a part of something special.”

The Four Firkins crew prides themselves on selling only fresh beer. “Turnover is a big thing,” Alvey explained, “our inventory turns over two and a half times a month. This is because we are a destination store. We don’t ever have expired product on our shelves.”

The little destination store that began on the corner of Texas and Minnetonka is bringing their unique experience to the rest of the Twin Cities thanks to the community that has always supported them.

You can support the campaign here.

Four Firkins IndieGoGo Video from Limited Release Beer on Vimeo.


All Pints North Tickets on Sale at Noon

Posted by: Ryan Tuenge under Beer, Food, beer, wine events Updated: April 14, 2014 - 8:17 AM

Today at noon tickets to the popular summer beer fest held in Duluth will go on sale. This is certainly one of my favorite festivals since it is out of town and is a great excuse to spend a weekend up on the beautiful North Shore. Check out the details below.

  • All Pints North Summer Brew Fest
  • Saturday, July 26, 2014
  • 3-7 p.m.
  • Bayfront Festival Park | Duluth, MN
  • 21+ Event | ID Required at Entry
  • Rain or Shine
  • No Pets Allowed
  • $35 (+ applicable tax and ticketing fees) in advance. Limit 6. | $45 at the door (if available) | $10 (+ applicable tax and ticketing fees) Sober Driver ticket
  • Tickets on sale Monday, April 14, 2014 @ Noon CST
  • For tickets visit tempotickets.com/apn

Town Hall Brewery Re-Opening with Barrel Aged Week

Posted by: Ryan Tuenge under Beer, Food, beer, wine events, Beer Updated: April 13, 2014 - 2:16 PM

The doors to Town Hall Brewery opened wide on Friday, just in time for the always popular Barrel Aged Week. The newly renovated space is beautiful; complete with stained glass, updated restrooms, and cozy booths. 

One of the greatest improvements was adding an event space in back, complete with a tribute to owner Pete Rifakes' mother who passed away last year. A photo of her is displayed on the wall just below her beautiful glass-encased, handmade tapestries recognizing some of their nationally awarded brews. “She didn’t even use a machine,” said head brewer Mike Hoops. “We decided to lock them in for life.”

The brewery itself gained more space, which is especially important considering all the house beer that needs to be produced to satisfy the other two sister locations. This added space allows Hoops and the brewing team to make more seasonal beers and one-off beers as well. “I’m really excited about the new space,” said Hoops. “The seasonals are super fun, and they keep the creativity flowing.”

The additional brewing space also allows them to continue their barrel aged program, which culminates on Monday with the beginning of Barrel Aged Week. The schedule looks like this:

Monday 4/14 5 pm Release

Twisted Trace- Town Hall's Twisted Reality Barley Wine aged in Buffalo Trace Oak Barrels. Recipient of 2013 Great American Beer Fest Silver medal honors Denver, CO

Tuesday 4/15 5 pm Release

Eye Wine -Town Hall's Eye of the Storm Honey ale aged in Gambling McDuck French Oak Cab Franc Wine Barrel from Napa, CA

Wednesday  4/16 5 pm Release

Manhattan Reserve - Town Hall's Belgian style Grand Cru aged with tart red cherries and finished in Woodford Reserve Barrels

Thursday 4/17 5 pm Release

Buffalo Bock- Town Hall's Weizenbock aged in Buffalo Trace Barrels 

Friday 4/18 5 pm Release

Big #7 - Town Hall's Strong Belgian Bruin Aged in Jack Daniels Tennessee Whiskey Barrels

Friday 4/18 5 pm Release

Project 3106- Town Hall's Strong Belgian Aged with Belgian Chocolate, kumquat, and finished in a Buffalo Trace Barrel

Saturday 4/19 **1pm Release**  

Czar Jack- Town Hall's Jack Frost Imperial Stout aged in Jack Daniels Tennessee Whiskey Barrels

Saturday 4/19 **5pm Release**  

Double Barrel Aged Jack Frost- Town Hall's Jack Frost Imperial Stout aged in Jack Daniel's Tennessee Whiskey Barrel then aged in French Oak Red Wine Barrel

Of these releases the Manhattan Reserve aged on Woodford Reserve barrels (being released on Wednesday) is one not to miss. Tart cherries stand out in this one but subtle hints of plum and spice can be detected as well.

Others that were sampled and held true to Town Hall’s reputation were the Czar Jack, aged in a Jack Daniels barrel, and Buffalo Bock, which was aged in a Buffalo Trace barrel. 

The Czar Jack had some very nice vanilla notes to go along with a hint of smoke and plenty of chocolate. Buffalo Bock was quite nice with esthery banana notes from the yeast and caramel and toffee flavors that really come through as well.

To sum up the improvements you can expect:

  • The bathrooms are much better—this was probably the most needed improvement of all!
  • The brewery gained more space and 3 new fermenters, while the overall capacity shrunk by only 9 seats. Basically, they can make more beer without losing a whole lot of space.
  • The event space in back is very intimate and is complete with a drop-down screen and projector. Fantasy Football draft or home-brew party anyone?
  • The charming fireplace remains along with the leather chairs, which now face two brand new flat screen TV’s. 
  • Comfy booths now adorn the east wall of the bar area. A good use of space here, but has the potential to get crowded at peak times.
  • Exposed wood adds character to the ceiling in back and a steely blue paint job lends to a great modern look.
  • Stained glass throughout. Is there anything more aesthetically pleasing than stained glass? The design even incorporates the clock tower and a glass of beer.
  • Two nitro tap handles. Can you imagine Mango Mama on nitro? How about Three Hour Tour? This could very well happen.
  • Ten cider tap handles were added. This bodes well for those who love and appreciate cider. There will also be 10 guest beers on tap at any given time along with 15 house beers.

Be sure to check out the new space and try out the new food menu while you are at it.


Aesthetic Apparatus Scratch and Dent Sale

Posted by: Ryan Tuenge under Beer, Food, beer, wine events, Beer Updated: April 10, 2014 - 10:22 PM

Aesthetic Apparatus is holding their annual $5 Scratch and Dent Sale on Saturday, April 12th at noon. Here you will find a bunch of cool prints and posters (some of which are beer related) that would normally run you around $20 for only $5. All of these items are scratch and dent but are in near perfect condition.

After the sale a party will commence (at about 7 PM) where you will be able to enjoy beer from  Lake Monster Brewing and live music by The Bombay Sweets. Check out the full details below.


Saturday, April 12th at noon

Party starts at 7 PM


Aesthetic Apparatus

2215 Snelling Avenue South

Minneapolis, MN 55404

Minnesota Brewer's Ball Benefiting Cystic Fibrosis

Posted by: Ryan Tuenge under Beer, Food, beer, wine events, Beer Updated: March 24, 2014 - 11:12 PM

On Friday, March 28th from 7 PM to 11 PM Chris Reuvers from ESPN 1500 will be hosting an event benefiting research for Cystic Fibrosis in the DQ Club at TCF Bank Stadium. Present will be many regional brewers pouring samples of their handmade brews.

Cystic Fibrosis is an inherited chronic disease that affects the lungs and digestive system of about 30,000 children and adults in the United States. In the 1950’s many children didn’t live to attend elementary school but thanks to medical advances, it is now possible for people to make it into their 30’s and 40’s. With more research, the foundation seeks to find a cure for this chronic disease.

General Admission tickets are $95 ($44 of this amount is tax-deductible) and will get you unlimited beer and food samples, a tasting glass, $20 off an UBER ride and access to live and silent auctions.

The VIP package will cost $150 ($76 of which is tax-deductible) and includes unlimited beer and food samples, special beer pours exclusive to VIP guests, a dinner reception with local sports celebrities and ESPN 1500 radio personalities, a tasting glass, official Brewer's Ball t-shirt, access to live and silent auctions, and $40 off an UBER ride. Tickets can be purchased here.

For further details on this event follow this link to the event website.



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