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.
An experiment, born in the year 2000, has blossomed into a highly anticipated event at the reputable Town Hall Brewery at Seven Corners. Czar Jack (an Imperial Stout), which was their first Barrel Aged beer, went on to win a medal at the Great American Beer Festival (GABF) in 2001. This was before there was even a category for the Barrel Aged style. The category itself was called “Experimental Beer” and Brewmaster Mike Hoops acknowledged the risk in entering a Barrel Aged beer back then. “You’re throwing at a dart board,” he said.
After 15 years and 15 GABF medals (3 for Barrel Aged beers) the brewery has a reputation to live up to. They don’t take that lightly as evidenced by the time, money, and skill they allocate to the program. This is important as more and more breweries enter the market and quality tends to be all over the map. At Town Hall, quality is the first priority—even if it means dumping a batch that doesn’t meet their standard. “Tickets went on sale and all of a sudden there’s this line and people are buying these tickets for these beers and they’ve never had them before. They’re going off reputation,” notes Hoops. “So we got a barrel that wasn’t what we expected; so it’s going down the drain,” he explains. “We don’t have the space to see what it will do in time, and it’s certainly not the quality that consumers have grown to expect. So we’re not going to give it to them. It wouldn’t be fair.”
A sense of pride emerges from Mike’s smiling face as he is asked about his favorite offering this year: Foolish Angel. “If there’s a day to come, Tuesday is the day.”
The beer release schedule looks like this:
Monday at 5 PM - Manhattan Reserve Cherry Gran Cru
This beer is a bit fruity from the Belgian yeast and tart cherries plus it has a wonderful bourbon character from the Woodford Reserve barrel.
Tuesday at 5 PM - Foolish Angel Belgian Quad
Expect a lot of malt character in this one, which was aged in an Angel’s Envy bourbon barrel. ***Brewmaster Mike Hoops considers this the “brewers favorite” for this year.***
Wednesday at 5 PM - Buffalo Bock Weizenbock
The Bronze medal winner at the 2014 GABF. Expect some banana flavor from the yeast and some nice, toasty, caramel notes from the bourbon barrel.
Thursday at 5 PM - Twisted Trace Barleywine
This took home the Silver medal at the 2013 GABF. Big on caramel and toffee and heavily hopped, this is what we call a perfect winter warmer.
Friday at 5 PM - Project 3106 Kumquat Chocolate Brown
Another newcomer to the lineup, this brew offers toasty flavors of dark Belgian chocolate and a little coffee with hints of citrus in the nose from the kumquats.
Saturday at 11 AM - Czar Jack Imperial Stout
The Gold medal winner in the Experimental Beer category back in 2001. It’s no secret that this one is brewed in a Jack Daniels barrels and it brings the wood flavors from barrel straight to your palate. A robust and roasty beer that is the favorite of many.
Saturday at 3 PM - Brown Label Maple Syrup Bruin
This vintage beer (with the same base as Project 3106) offers a hint of vanilla—thanks to the homemade maple syrup—to go along with its lightly toasted, chocolate flavor.
Saturday at 3 PM - Duke of Wallonia Imperial Wit
The coriander comes alive in this unique, citrusy concoction and it finishes very clean. This one stood out; probably due to the fact that it was aged in a red wine barrel as opposed to a whiskey barrel. This one impressed me the most out of the beers I was able to sample.
Saturday at 3 PM - Le Baltique Baltic Porter
A dark and rich red wine barrel aged lager.
Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to be limited to a fancy dinner and bottle of wine. Here are some date ideas for beer-loving couples who are looking to do something a little different this year.
Take Friday off and enjoy a weekend trip up North starting at Bent Paddle Brewing in the West End neighborhood of Duluth. Then swing into Canal Park Brewing to take in the lake view while enjoying a late-afternoon beer or two. Follow that up with a romantic sunset walk to Fitger’s Brewhouse to enjoy a wonderful dinner and stay for the beer and music. Wake up on Saturday and take a cruise up to the gorgeous, frozen Gooseberry Falls. Swing into the new Castle Danger Brewing taproom in Two Harbors on your way back to Duluth and explore their selection of beers by ordering a flight.
If you want to stay closer to town, take a day trip out to Stillwater and swing into The Wedge and Wheel for a cheese flight and ask owner Chris Kohtz to help you pair it with a beer or cider. For dinner, walk over to LOLO American Kitchen for a tasty meal and sip on one of the many craft brews or fancy cocktails available on their menu.
Host a fun couples evening where each duo brings a different beer and appetizer pairing to share with the group. A nut brown ale would pair nicely with an aged gouda and a big, hoppy IPA with a blue cheese.
For a more intimate night-in take your date to one of the many local bottle shops around town and pick out a mixed six pack to pair with a home cooked meal. Pair a nice IPA such as Hop Dish from Lift Bridge with a spicy Thai dish, a vinaigrette salad with a Saison such as CynicAle from Surly, and a nice Stout such as Foundation from Badger Hill Brewing with a rich raspberry chocolate cake.
There’s nothing more romantic than creating and learning something new together and brewing beer would surely fit the bill. Start by heading to Midwest Supplies or Northern Brewer and picking out one of their starter sets. Then pick out a pre-made beer recipe kit (instructions will be included) and “hop” to it! You can celebrate again in a couple weeks with a bottling date and keep the love alive next month when your beer is finally ready to drink.
Cheers to all the “hoppy” couples out there!