This Saturday marks the second Northern Lights Rare Beer Fest at the Minnesota History Center. The event was dreamed up by Juno Choi, Mark Opdahl, and Dan Kearney of Chop Liver Craft Beer Festivals. It was the sort of event that they would want to attend—an intimate setting, that wasn’t overcrowded, with a lineup featuring rare beers. “We're always mindful of the attendee, that's really important to us because we wanted to create a beer fest that we would get excited about attending ourselves,” Juno explains.
The fest itself has a promising cast of breweries, including Evil Twin, Lagunitas, Ballast Point, Surly, Steel Toe, Bent Paddle, and many more. At this event, only rare beers are served, which means you’ll get to sample brews that people usually have to follow delivery trucks or trade for online. Many of these beers will never be made again.
The festival celebrates that exclusivity and the creativity of the brewers themselves. It it is created for attendees who seek out this sort of experience, much like a foodie in search of that rare dish. Juno hopes that this festival provides that and more. “We really hope attendees find some truly wonderful beers they didn't expect and from breweries they didn't expect it from. Sometimes you have these defining moments where your palate or taste changes/develops. We want attendees to experience that,” he says. “Overall, we want them to sample great beers, in a beautiful yet intimate environment, with great food to match the elevated beer, among passionate beer people like themselves.”
That being said, expectations are huge at $100 per ticket and the Chop Liver crew knows this. “The most important part of that [living up to expectations] is providing a wonderful selection of rare and unique beers. We think everyone will enjoy the beers this year and it will only get better in years to come,” says Juno. In addition to covering their costs, a part of the ticket proceeds will be donated to Pints for Prostates — a cause that means a lot to the crew. 100% of the profit from the silent auction will also go the Pints for Prostates organization.
Some of the beers to look forward to are: 2009 Surly Darkness, 2008 Goose Island Bourbon County Stout, Woodford Barrel Aged 1100 Wheat Wine from Figer’s Brewhouse, Sour Wench from Ballast Point, Blood from the Barrel from Steel Toe, 2014 Rum Barrel Aged Elf from Dark Horse Brewing, and Starkeller Peach from Schell’s.
Food and refreshments are complimentary with admission and will feature products made with brewing ingredients such as fried hops and spent grain pretzels. The Zacc Harris Trio (an excellent local jazz group) will be performing their guitar-driven tunes throughout the evening. Event details are below and tickets can be purchased here.
Saturday, March 28th from 7 PM to 10 PM
Minnesota History Center
345 W Kellogg Blvd
St. Paul, MN 55102
$5 at the Minnesota History Center
The inspiration came from a trip out west to the Yakima Valley last fall. Brewer Eric Harper knew he was due to come up with a recipe for the Unchained Series, an ongoing project at Summit where brewers are allowed to tap into their creativity and bring the final product to market as a limited release. “I saw some good products out there and I knew I had to do an Unchained,” said Harper. “Why not be the first one to do a Double IPA?”
The result is Hop Silo, the 18th batch of the series, and one which achieves a couple of “firsts” for Summit. For one it is the very first Double IPA they’ve done in their nearly 30 years of business. Summit is known for brewing quality beers and they don’t often flirt with trends, but this series really encourages experimentation and Hop Silo fits that bill perfectly.
Another “first” is that this brew is packaged in a 16 oz. can and is sold in 4 packs. “It seemed like a cool idea” says Harper. “You tend to see a lot of Double IPAs in 16 oz. cans.”
Hop Silo is a beautiful, citrusy Double IPA with a healthy dose of UK malts that stand up to the hops. Lemon Drop, Azacca, Apollo and Cascade hops make up the hop profile which tests out at 101 IBUs for you “Hopheads” out there. The Simpsons Crystal Dark malt contributes to the rich amber color along with Crisp Best Pale, Simpsons Premium English Caramel. Weighing in at 8.3% ABV, this brew should be enjoyed in moderation and with a safe ride home if you are out and about. Pair this with some ribs for an early season cookout. You have no excuse now with this 60 degree weather.
Rob Shellman knew he wanted to work in the beer business after falling in love with it back in 2005 while pursuing an acting career out in LA. A few trips to San Diego did the trick—and after starting Better Beer Society and consulting with Pat Fahey a Master Cicerone and educator himself ( formerly of Beer School), Rob decided to put his own spin on beer education and incorporate all aspects of the industry instead of just the role of a brewer. “There are so many stories to share in this industry outside of the brewer’s role, and I just felt that it was time to take it to the next level and educate students on all aspects of the industry” said Rob.
The result is BBSU, a class taught by Cicerone Michael Agnew (now in its third year) designed to educate students on all aspects of the beer industry through discussions from experts in the field. Some of the speakers in previous semesters include Lanny Hoff (Artinsnal Imports), Jace Marti (Schell’s), Todd Haug (Surly), Pete Rifakes (Town Hall), Julia Herz (Brewers Association), Daniel Mays (Stinson Wine, Beer, and Spirits) and many others. No prior knowledge is needed in order to take the class and even the most knowledgable people learn something new every week.
What is really outstanding about this course is that no two classes are the same so you can continue to take it every semester and constantly learn something new. What does one take away from a semester? Well, according to Rob he’d like to see more and more people get into the industry but he understands the reality of that. “BBSU is so much more than that. We have students who come simply to enjoy the beer, meet new friends, or is the nice break in their busy week to meet up with existing friends and just relax and have some fun,” he stated.
Beer education has come a long way the past few years and as the industry grows education is going to become more and more important. “I always say an educated beer drinker is a better beer drinker. Not for any sense of entitlement or elitism, just that once you are able to have an understanding of flavor and what goes into making that beer, you can begin to not only appreciate it more, but really have a better sense of what it is your palate is experiencing,” says Rob.
The one thing that most educated beer drinkers seem to agree on is that quality beer matters and Shellman is no stranger when it comes to that topic. “Well, how do we determine what quality beer is or isn't? We taste. The number one most important thing someone can do is explore their palate by tasting all kinds of beer. ”Then and only then can you determine what your palate deems as quality. The rest of it just doesn't matter. Not the hype beers, the IIIPA's, the barrel-aged darlings, the 'whales' so to speak. Once you can free yourself from only enjoying these type of beers, you'll find an entire world of quality beer already exists, and is very accessible and readily available year-round” says Rob.
This semester begins on March 4th and runs through May 20th. Classes are at Republic 7 Corners every Wednesday with one at 6:00 PM and one at 7:30 PM which you will choose when you sign up. The cost is $100 for 12 weeks. You will have the opportunity to sample all kinds of local beer which is included in the cost. Be sure to grab your tickets here.
The idea was born, during a car ride, to Adam Rehberg. Adam is an Indie board gamer, with dreams of one day opening his own brewery. Brewin’ USA finished in the top eight — out of 300 Indie games submitted — at the Cards Against Humanity Tabletop Death Match competition in 2014, and it is about to deliver the craft beer crowd a unique experience.
The game is clever, yet simple enough to finish in an hour, and can be played by 2 to 5 players. It is, essentially, a card game that incorporates bottle caps, which are used as currency to engage in bidding wars over ingredients. The goal is to start a brewery, brew and launch beer into the marketplace, and in the end dominate at brewfests to become the best in the nation. According to Adam, it’s not a typical drinking game where you see how much you can drink in a short time. “It’s about giving someone a new experience,” he explains.
Hailing from a competitive family, Adam is no stranger to board games. Seeing this project get funded on Kickstarter would serve as a stepping stone to help him break into the gaming industry. “This is my first attempt at getting a game published and it’s been a lot of fun to design,” says Adam. It will be even more rewarding to bring the game home to his family for the holidays, where his love of board games began years ago. “Whenever I go back home, board games make it to the table. It allows the competition to shine,” he says.
Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the game for Minnesotans is the connection that Adam has made with some of our local breweries. About 20 Minnesota breweries are slated to partner with him on the game, and this was his plan all along. “We made a pretty big push to work with Minnesota breweries. It’s a game about craft beer. What makes a game unique is if you can pay it back to the community,” he says.
The goal is to get the game out by the end of October if it is fully funded by March 20th. He’s well on his way with over 75% already funded.
The Northeast Minneapolis brewery 612Brew is celebrating two years by releasing their three top offerings — SIX, Unrated Rye and Gateway Park — in cans. These aren’t just any cans, either. They feature artwork by local illustrator Adam Turman, who is known for his work in the beer community and beyond.
“Working with Adam to design the can art has been a blast,” said co-founder Adit Kalra. “Each can is its own piece of art.” The stories behind these cans tell stories about Minneapolis and the brewery itself. SIX is named after the Metro Transit route. Gateway Park features an image of what downtown Minneapolis looked like in the late 1800s. The Unrated can pokes fun at the dispute 612Brew had with the Motion Picture Association of America over the previous name of the beer.
Brewer and co-founder Robert Kasak and the 612Brew team will be filling the cans right at the brewery, where production has now doubled. “We are canning all of our beers right here at the brewery,” explained Kasak. “We explored a number of options for packaging, but decided to purchase our own canning line and do everything in house.”
Six-packs of the 12-ounce cans are currently on store shelves across the Twin Cities.