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 Entertainment

Beer Gone Sour?

Posted by: Ryan Tuenge Updated: September 25, 2012 - 11:34 PM
On September 29th Republic at Seven Corners is playing host to an event called Where the Wild Beers Are.  They are calling it a “collaborative” festival for wild beer enthusiasts—think of it as a sort of potluck for wild beer. The cost to attend the event is $10 plus your beer contribution. For every 750 ml of sour beer you will receive 10 tickets for beer samples, assuring that everyone gets an equal amount to try. This is the 5th year that this event has taken place in the Twin Cities; bringing together fans of “wild or sour” beers—a style that originated in Belgium where wild yeast is introduced to the wort via open fermentation. Jeff Halvorson and Tim Stendahl are the men behind this event, as well as the one held in Brooklyn, New York.
The process of creating a sour or wild beer can be rather lengthy; often taking years for the beer to properly mature. Debuting at this year’s event will be Mark 1 and Mark 2, which are two special sour beers created by some of the previous year’s attendees from the bacteria and yeast left behind in the bottles at last year’s event. The ten-month old Mark 1 was made with white wine-soaked oak staves, while Mark 2 will feature cherries.
So, you may be asking yourself: Just what is a sour beer and what is the difference between regular and open fermentation?
 According to University of Minnesota Associate Professor of Microbiology Jeff Gralnick, the difference between open fermentation and normal fermentation is all about how you “inoculate” the fermentation. “The open fermentation style in many cases is literally a fermentation vessel that you leave open to the air. Microbes floating around in the air (typically this can be around 100,00 per square meter) have a chance of landing into the vessel. The majority of things that land probably don't know how to live in this environment, but some of them do.”
One might wonder where an ideal place to execute an open style fermentation would be. “Sometimes these open fermentations are done in orchards, where the number of microbes who really like to ferment sugars can be higher in the air (think about rotting fruits, for example),” Jeff said. It may also be as simple as reusing your fermentation vessel, “In the next batch, the microbes can come from the nooks and crannies in the wooden vessel when it is reused.”
And just what, exactly, creates those unique, sour flavors? According to Jeff, “Often these wild microbes (both yeast and bacteria) make sour and funky tasting compounds in addition to ethanol, which an organism like Saccharomyces (the yeast species typically used in making beer) typically don't make.”
Many examples of this style can be found at places such as The Four Firkins in St. Louis Park, The Ale Jail in St. Paul, or Zipps in Minneapolis. So be sure to stock up before you attend this year’s event.


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. 

Winterfest 2012

Posted by: Ryan Tuenge Updated: January 27, 2012 - 10:13 PM
The premiere Craft Beer event of the winter is taking place next Friday when the Minnesota Craft Brewers Guild hosts Winterfest at the Minnesota History Center. Food will be catered by Bon Appétit and Flow DJ will be providing the entertainment for the evening. This intimate event sold out in seconds and promises to introduce a plethora of winter beer varieties from the members of the Guild. If you were not able to get tickets, you still have a chance to get in…for free! The Guild is having a writing contest in order to name Mr. and Mrs. Craft Beer Minnesota. They are looking for your Minnesota Craft Beer story and they want you to explain why you should win. The contest runs through Wednesday, February 1st.
The Snowshoe award will be presented at the end of the night to the brewer who wins the people’s choice for best beer at the event. The winner will be given the entry fee for one beer at the Great American Beer festival held in Denver, Colorado in the fall. Here are the details for Winterfest:
Friday, February 3, 2012 from 7 PM to 10 PM
Minnesota History Center
345 W. Kellogg Blvd.
St. Paul, MN 55102
There is free parking available in the parking lot adjacent to the History Center and plenty of street parking. Keep in mind that cars left in the lot must be removed by 10 AM on Saturday.

Autumn Brew Review Preview

Posted by: Ryan Tuenge Updated: September 13, 2011 - 9:48 PM
On Saturday many Craft Beer lovers will flock, ticket in hand, to the Autumn Brew Review—a perennial favorite of local beer geeks.  This annual event is put on by the Minnesota Craft Brewers Guild, a team of breweries that spans all of Minnesota who are dedicated to the fine craft of brewing.  This year they have broken the event up into two full sessions where in years past there has only been one.
The morning session will begin by the call of bagpipes at 10 AM, proof that fun can be had prior to noon.  This session promises a morning full of variety that begins with a complimentary and festive beer tasting vessel provided to you upon entering the gate.  The 80-plus breweries that will be pouring the samples have prepared for this event so expect to see some beers that may not be available here in Minnesota.  A Bloody Mary sample bar will also be on site for traditionalists who prefer to start their morning with a bang or for those opposed to drinking beer before noon.  Remember to bring some cash because there will be food vendors such as the Chef Shack who will be serving a “hang over hash”.  The morning session will close at 2 PM to the sound of The Southside Aces, a local New Orleans style Jazz band.
The afternoon session begins at 3 PM led again by traditional bagpipes and the same 80 breweries as the morning session.  Be sure to check out the local breweries who will be there such as Surly, Fulton, Harriet Brewing, Lift Bridge, Brau Brothers, Schell’s, Summit and the local brewpubs: Town Hall, Barley John’s, Fitger’s, Great Waters, and Herkimer to name few.  Local breweries are what make this event happen every year and as any Craft Beer fanatic will tell you fresh beer is the best beer.  Once again food vendors will be on site so you can soak up that liquid diet or grab dinner before you head home.  The afternoon session concludes at 7 PM so be sure to call your sober ride a little before then.
Here are some tips if you go:
·         Be sure to have a sober ride home.  Don’t ruin everyone else’s fun or put other’s lives at risk.
·         Wear sunscreen.  This is an outdoor event and you will be very sorry at 8 AM on Sunday if you don’t.
·         Make sure to eat at the event.  Food will help you last throughout the day and despite popular belief, your body needs nutrition.
·         Drink plenty of water; this is essential for a day of drinking out in the sun.
·         Have fun.  Beer is meant to be shared among friends and bring people together in laughter and good conversation.
Tickets for the afternoon session are currently sold out but tickets are still available for the morning session.  Tickets are $30 and are available here.  Fall is often thought of as beer festival season, and in Minnesota the weather doesn’t get much better than this.  One could argue that of all the beer festivals held here in Minnesota, this would be the one to make it to.  Cheers!

Meeting at the Summit

Posted by: Ryan Tuenge Updated: August 6, 2011 - 3:34 PM
A couple weeks back my wife and I toured Summit Brewing Company in St. Paul. Much to our surprise the day turned out a bit differently than we had planned. The tour was your standard brewery experience; they showed us the brewing kettles, the fermentation tanks, and the packaging line. Our tour guide did a pretty good job considering she was a new volunteer and she got bonus points for dealing with a crowd of testosterone-charged beer distributors from Boston who would heckle her at every turn.
After the “adult daycare session” or tour, it was time to start sampling the latest from Summit. Especially good were the 25th Anniversary Ale which was basically a “hopped up” version of the EPA, and the Honeymoon Saison, the latest variety from the Unchained Series. Both of these brews were new and not yet available in stores so they were a must-try. I also sampled the Oatmeal Stout which I found to be creamy and quite tasty.
After a stop at the gift shop, where I got a very cool brewing/grilling apron complete with bottle pocket and opener, we met a very nice couple from San Francisco.  They are traveling the country on what they call the Amber Waves Rally; a mission to tour as many breweries as possible. They made great conversation with stories about the different breweries that they had toured and brewers they had met along the way. In fact, we enjoyed the conversation so much that we decided to do lunch afterwards as they were heading to the Tour de Fat before closing out their day on the Surly Brewing tour. Their tour has spanned the entire United States and the stories they told resulted in plenty of laughter and good times over lunch at Joe’s Garage.
We finished off our day at the New Belgium Tour de Fat which was a very cool experience to take in. The festival had a European carnival feel and it was a perfect day to be outside. Bikes lined the fences all over Loring Park as happy pedalers soaked up the sun and enjoyed great music and beer. It was the perfect way to say goodbye to our new friends.
Upon arriving home, we couldn’t help but feel energized by the random encounter that had just taken place. It was an important reminder to remain open to the possibilities that life brings your way – you never know what you might find at the Summit.


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