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.

Posts about Food and drink

News and Notes for Late Fall

Posted by: Ryan Tuenge Updated: November 14, 2012 - 12:25 AM
This is the time of year when we are all reminded of how lucky we are to have such great local beer to enjoy. Late Fall is a great time to get acclimated with a favorite winter warmer or to try something new at your favorite bar or brewpub. Here are some things you can look forward to now and in the coming weeks.
At Barley John’s in New Brighton the smooth and slightly sweet Tropical Stout is on tap as well as their Zombie Ale, which is a dark British Mild Ale.  Also on tap: Dark Knight Returns, a Porter that was aged for 18 months in bourbon barrels. Some of you will remember that the original Dark Knight won the Snowshoe award at last year’s Winterfest in February.
Chad Hilgenberg, brewer at Great Waters, has been busy concocting some new brews at downtown St. Paul’s beloved brewpub. Right now you will find Canty Smeek, a Smoked Scotch Ale pumped from a cask, which will be featured all winter long. Currently on tap are Figgy Stardust—an American Strong Ale and Madcholly Union Ale—a Belgian Blonde ale brewed with 65 pounds of local honey and created to celebrate Chad and his his wife Molly’s recent nuptials (congrats Chad and Molly). 
The time is here again to celebrate the release of Commander, a fine Barleywine made by the fine folks at Lift Bridge. The event will be held at the brewery on Saturday, November 17 from 3 PM to 8 PM. Admission is $10 and you can expect music, games, a mustache contest, an old time circus costume contest, and (of course) there will be food trucks on hand selling some delicious fare.


Badger Hill Brewing

Posted by: Ryan Tuenge Updated: July 28, 2012 - 3:19 PM


Located in Minnetonka, Badger Hill Brewing is setting out to create great tasting and well-balanced brews adding to the lineup of successful Minnesota breweries. They are not; however, going the conventional route of producing beer in their own space. Instead, they are opting to share brewing space with Lucid Brewing under an Alternative Proprietorship Brewing Agreement. This will keep start up costs low for both breweries in this tough economy and will help them to expand, if needed, in the future. 


The cooperative business model dates back to the Rochdale Pioneers who, in 1844 decided that a grocery store run by its customers would be a much better way to do business than that of a private shop where all profit funneled into one place. The group of 28 pioneers realized that cooperating allowed better control of the quality and allowed the profit to be enjoyed by all who invested in it and not just a single person. 


Today there are many examples of cooperatives including; grocery stores, energy companies, farms, and now Badger Hill and Lucid breweries. One can see why a brewery would be concerned about quality and watching operating costs, especially in today’s market, which is chock full of quality craft breweries. 


Badger Hill Brewing recently released their MSB (Minnesota Special Bitter) at Señor Wong’s in St. Paul and is currently producing two other varieties; Three Tree American Rye and Foundation Stout. You can try out the MSB next Wednesday at Midweek Beer Geek—an event held at the Nomad World Pub in Minneapolis and hosted by Andy Schmitt, the man behind Minnesota Beer Activists. You can also find Badger Hill on tap at these locations.



Hops From Down Under

Posted by: Ryan Tuenge Updated: June 5, 2012 - 11:00 PM

 New Zealand hops are a growing trend in the craft brewing industry where breweries such as New Belgium, Anchor, Odell’s, and many more are using hop varieties from the pacific island to flavor some fantastic brews. 

For over 150 years hops have been cultivated in the Nelson region of New Zealand and with good reason. There the weather is mild, around 50 degrees Fahrenheit, and is perfect for growing hops because the sun shines over 2,400 hours per year. Not only is the weather perfect but the whole harvesting process is environmentally friendly due to the fact that, in most crops, no chemicals or pesticides are needed. 
Many of the diseases previously found in these hops have been breed out thanks to a world class hop breeding program that has been functioning for over 50 years. Internationally, brewers have long tapped the island for its seedless hop supply, a popular commodity among lager-style brewers.
You may start to notice some of these New Zealand hop varieties on ingredient lists:
Nelson Sauvin
Hallertau Aroma
Pacific Gem
Pacific Jade
On the local scene, Summit chose to use Rakau hops (a rare variety) in their new Saga IPA, which gives the beer a citrus punch and has left the local hop heads buzzing about this new refrigerator staple. Other local breweries, such as Town Hall Brewery and Barley John’s Brew Pub, have also been experimenting with New Zealand hops, often incorporating them into specialty beers. 
Home brewers can also get their hands on many varieties of these hops at both Northern Brewer locations and at Midwest Supplies in St. Louis Park. One can’t help but think that these varieties would make a fine addition to your summer homebrew. 

News and Notes from Winterfest

Posted by: Ryan Tuenge Updated: February 9, 2012 - 10:58 PM

If you’ve ever been to the Minnesota History Center then you know what a beautiful venue it is. This multi-level, marble masterpiece played host to Winterfest this past weekend where local brewers brought their best winter offerings to share with local Craft Beer lovers. Many of these beers, such as the Randallized Worthy Adversary from Fulton, are not available for purchase in stores or at the brewery which makes events like these a special treat. Many of the newer Minnesota breweries were present such as Harriet Brewing, Fulton, Lucid Brewing, Mankato Brewery, Staples Mill Brewing, and from the North Shore, Castle Danger Brewing. Brewers could be seen talking about their methods and partaking in the many brews that were being poured from the draft towers of other breweries.


Congratulations were in order for Barley John’s, who at the end of the night took home the Snowshoe award for Dark Knight, their bourbon barrel aged Porter. They will now have two beer entries at the Great American Beer Festival in Denver next Fall.


Here were some of my favorites:


Framboise from Fitger’s Brewhouse - This 3-year old Belgian style ale was aged in wine barrels and had a very nice sour raspberry flavor. This was one of the most unique beers I’ve had in a while.


342 from Town Hall Brewery - This hop monster was loaded with a special variety of New Zealand hops that were unique to Town Hall Brewery and gave the beer a watermelon flavor. Mike Hoops did a wonderful job concocting this one.


Kaffir Pale Ale from Barley John’s - Let’s just say I enjoyed more than one of these and with good reason. This hoppy ale was brewed with Kaffir limes, which come from Thailand. They contributed an amazingly fresh flavor unlike anything I have tried before. A much welcomed upgrade over the common Corona with lime.


Espresso Stout from Schells - Made with beans home roasted by the brewer himself, this beer was designed with the coffee lover in mind. This was very drinkable and better than many of the other stouts that I tried that night.


Bourbon Barrel Aged Smoke from Surly - Normally I do not care as much for smoked beer but I really liked this one. Hints of vanilla from the bourbon barrels came through and the smoke flavor was a bit more subtle than some of the other smoked beers that I’ve tried.


While at the event, I had a chance to sit down with Ryan Petz from Fulton who told me about their North Loop tap room, which is set to open in early to mid-March—just in time for the Twins home opener. Currently Fulton is selling growlers on site Fridays from 3-7 and Saturdays from noon to 4.


I also caught up with Andy Schmitt who runs MN Beer Activists. He is pretty busy these days working to change some local laws regarding beer in Minnesota. Andy mentioned that one of the big things being discussed at the state level right now is a law that would allow brewpubs to distribute their beer in liquor stores. As the law stands right now, only packaging breweries (such as Summit) can sell their beer in liquor stores. Brewpubs can only sell their beer on premise by the pint or in growlers. “We are totally behind the movement to see brewpubs enter the world of distribution” Andy said. “It makes total sense. What is the harm to anyone if I can get a GABF award winning beer in my local store or on tap at another taproom?” MN Beer Activists is a non-profit organization that represents consumer interests through active engagement in education, legislation, and community participation regarding beer, wine, and spirits.  I will have more about Andy and his organization next week.






Flat Earth Brewing Company

Posted by: Ryan Tuenge Updated: August 13, 2011 - 5:39 AM
Hidden just off of Highway 5 in St. Paul is Flat Earth Brewing Company. The beer here is certainly not flat and anyone who has had a Northwest Passage IPA knows that they don’t cut corners. Established in 2007, Flat Earth has embedded their great tasting and fashionably dressed beers here in the Twin Cities. The labels are quite interesting; often depicting space-like objects that match the unique names they choose for each different beer they brew.
 One that stands out is the Cygnus X-1 Porter which is adorned with a spiral galaxy. It’s a great tasting beer that warms the soul on a cold evening (think bonfire in late fall) and would pair well with a rich and hearty stew.
Angry Planet is sure to please anyone in search of a hoppy Pale Ale. This beer pairs well with spicy or fried dishes due to the citrusy presence of Cascade hops. One look at our enraged planet on this label reminds you that this beer is not for those who shy away from our favorite flower.
Here are some other varieties that are also available:
·         Northwest Passage Ale (standard)
·         Bermuda Triangle Tripel (seasonal)
·         Black Helicopter Coffee Stout (seasonal)
·         Element 115 Lager (seasonal)
·         Extra Medium Ale (seasonal)
·         Ovni Ale (seasonal)
·         Rode Haring Flounders Red Ale (seasonal)
·         Winter Warlock (seasonal)
You can find these fine beers at many bars and liquor stores in the Twin Cities including some MGM locations. Growlers are for sale at the brewery Monday–Friday from noon to 6:30 p.m., and on Saturday from noon to 3:00 p.m. Small breweries such as Flat Earth give consumers a choice in their beer and it’s good to see the rate at which the Craft Beer world is growing. The Brewers Association is reporting that Craft Beer sales are up 14% for the first half of the year and that is something to celebrate. Cheers!


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