Minnesota on Tap

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 Local business

The Four Firkins in Oakdale Sets October 11th Grand Opening Date

Posted by: Ryan Tuenge Updated: September 22, 2014 - 11:14 PM

The Four Firkins Oakdale location opened last Thursday at 4 PM after months of hard work put in by owner Jason Alvey and his herd of beer nerds otherwise known as The Four Firkins Crew. “It’s a hell of a lot of work” says Alvey. “It takes a lot of work to do this.” By his count he hasn’t had a day off since August, often working 14 hour days preparing for the new location to open.

The hard work paid off with a packed house on Thursday and the locals seemed to take a liking to the craft beer only store. “It’s been a great happy vibe” according to Alvey. “A lot of locals stopped in that didn’t even know about us.” Although the work is not complete (there is still more decorating to do) it feels very similar to the St. Louis Park location with deep red walls and dark woods with exposed ceilings. This was of course by design.

“It is branding and we understand the importance of branding” said Alvey. “This is all custom stuff. If you want the same feel you have to make it yourself. It doesn’t just come out of a box.”

When you go to the Four Firkins in St. Louis Park you expect a certain kind of experience—one where both beer geeks and newbies to craft beer feel welcome. The same experience will also be felt at the brand new Four Firkins location right next to Buffalo Wild Wings in Oakdale. Their “Oakbury” location (coined by Sales Manager Michael Wagner) will be staffed by some of the same people as the SLP location and yes they will be doing in store tastings as well.

To celebrate the crew plans to throw a Grand Opening shindig on October 11th where they hope  to serve food cooked on grills outside of the store. They also invited some breweries to pour beer (inside only) for thirsty beer shoppers who plan to celebrate with them.

Be sure to stop in and pick up something from Bauhaus Brew Labs or Steel Toe Brewing which aren’t currently available anywhere else in the area.

Location:

Four Firkins

8338 3rd St. N

Oakdale, MN 55128

Cheers!

New Brew: Summit Unchained #16 Herkulean Woods

Posted by: Ryan Tuenge Updated: September 8, 2014 - 2:29 PM

The latest offering in the Unchained series, Herkulean Woods is an Imperial California Common Lager that utilizes some local ingredients such as maple syrup from Lutsen, spruce tips from a farm in Iowa, and even locally grown malts. This brew was created by Christian Dixon and this is his inaugural attempt in the Unchained lineup.

The beer sports a beautiful amber hue with bread and Belgian candy sugars in the nose. The flavor itself starts off a little sweet but finishes with some alcohol and bitterness from the hops and the slightly piney spruce tips. The complex flavors really benefit from about 15 minutes of warming up so don’t be shy in pulling this one out of the fridge a bit early.

Better yet grab this one on your way to a backyard fire and enjoy with friends outdoors under the beautiful stars.

By the numbers:

ABV: 8.2%

IBUs: 77

Malts: Harrington, Lacey, and Caramel

Hops: Hercules, Northern Brewer, and Exp 05256

Yeast strain: California Common

Kettle additions: Maple syrup and spruce tips

Cheers!

New Brew: Summit Union Series Southern Cape Sparkling Ale

Posted by: Ryan Tuenge Updated: June 17, 2014 - 9:39 PM

Head Brewer Damian McConn is the man behind Summit’s latest brew in the Union Series Southern Cape Sparkling Ale. For this small batch he sourced ingredients from all over the Southern Hemisphere including malts from Australia (Gairdner Pale), Chile (Sebastian Caramel), and hops from both New Zealand (Waimea) and South Africa (Southern Passion.)

Southern Cape Sparkling Ale is the third beer in the series following Meridan Session Ale and Rebellion Stout. The beer itself is very refreshing given the lighter malt and the high carbonation level. Tropical fruit comes alive in the nose and on pallet thanks to the Waimea hops from Down Under. This one is best enjoyed out on the deck while grilling and listening to your favorite tunes.

The Union Series was born with idea that their brewers will discover new ingredients and apply their creativity to create new and exciting beers brewed in small batches. You can find Southern Cape Sparkling Ale at many liquor stores throughout the Twin Cities.

Beer specs:

ABV: 4.4

IBU: 47

Malts: Gairdner Pale and Sebastian Caramel

Hops: Waimea and Southern Passion

Yeast: Australian Ale

Cheers!

Adam Turman and CHUX Print Garage Sale

Posted by: Ryan Tuenge Updated: June 12, 2014 - 2:35 PM

On Saturday, June 28th CHUX Print and Adam Turman are hosting a garage sale from 9 AM to 5 PM where you can find $5 prints and $10 test prints along with t-shirts (designs are yet to be determined) made to order. This is your chance to dress up that fancy home bar or living room with some cool stuff from the best print shop in town and one of the most talented artists out there.

Adam’s work can be seen all throughout the beer community (posters, shirts, etc) as well as on the side of local buildings such as The Butcher and Boar, 612 Brew, and Yamamoto. Check out his portfolio here.

CHUX Print has been a staple in the St. Louis Park community since 2005 working with many Twin Cities businesses, high school sports teams, food trucks, breweries, and artists. Check out some of their apparel work here.

Details of event below.

Where:

CHUX Print

3316 Gorham Ave.

St. Louis Park, MN 55426

Time:

Saturday, June 28th

9:00 AM to 5:00 PM

What to Bring:

Cash or plastic

Cheers!

The Four Firkins Expanding

Posted by: Ryan Tuenge 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.

Cheers!

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