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

A Local Legend Returns After 93 Years

Posted by: Ryan Tuenge Updated: July 1, 2013 - 11:31 PM

Downtown Stillwater—the perfect backdrop for a local brewery. That’s what Joseph Wolf and his business partners realized back in 1868 when they founded Joseph Wolf Brewing Company along the bluffs of the St. Croix River. 

Refrigeration, as we know it, did not exist at the time so they decided to build caves into the bluff where they could store the beer and cool it with ice cut fresh from the river. The caves were made using pick axes and dynamite. The process took eight years, and along the way, his partners backed out. They felt that the process was taking too long and they weren’t making money fast enough; so Joseph eventually took sole ownership of the brewery.

Joseph Wolf Brewing would become one of the biggest local breweries, producing over 25,000 barrels of beer in 1919 and shipping south to Chicago and all the way up to Winnipeg, Canada. Sadly the brewery went under during prohibition and Joseph passed away in 1921 leaving those who were close to him believing that it was prohibition that had killed him in the end.

Today, sisters Pat Wolf and Kathy Wolf Swanson are the only 100% female-owned brewery in Minnesota. The two wanted to continue what their great grandfather had started back in 1868 but, now with a focus on craft beer.

Last Wednesday at the Mad Capper in Downtown Stillwater they launched the first two beers: a Berlin Weisse and a Belgian Golden Ale. The beer is temporarily being contract brewed by Dubrue in Duluth, Minnesota until a permanent brewing site is chosen.

The Berlin Weisse was very refreshing on its own and didn’t leave you puckering after each sip. Slightly tart and fruity and lighter in body, this tasty brew was made for the patio and comes in at 4.3% ABV. It can also be served with flavored syrups such as raspberry or blueberry. Though the traditionalist may choose to skip on the syrup as it tends to make the beer a bit too sweet.

The Belgian Golden Ale comes in at 8.4% ABV and is brewed with rose hips, clover honey and chamomile which pair well with the the peppy Belgian yeast. Fruit is apparent in the aroma but it finishes rather light for a Golden Ale. Overall this is a nice beer and is sure to impress at a summer BBQ.

Both varieties are available at the Mad Capper and The Four Firkins with more retail locations in the works for the future.

In a market full of big, hoppy brews, the Wolf sisters have done something creative—and a bit daring—by introducing two styles not commonly found on the local scene. This pioneering spirit is surely something that would make Joseph Wolf proud.




American Craft Beer Week Northland Edition

Posted by: Ryan Tuenge Updated: May 14, 2013 - 10:38 PM
For those fortunate enough to live up on the beautiful north shore this is the week in which to celebrate your love of craft beer. The Rathskeller (a prohibition style lounge in the basement of Tycoons) is converting all 15 of their taps to Minnesota brews. Two of these will be brand new brews from Bent Paddle Brewing which is set to open this Thursday for the first time and another one will be LSD an offering from Indeed Brewing.
Brewers from the following breweries will be on hand for American Craft Beer Week on Wednesday from 7-9 p.m. at The Rathskeller to show off their best: Black List, Borealis Fermentery, Castle Danger Brewery, Dubrue and Big Wood Brewing from White Bear Lake. This would be a great chance to ask them about the process and get to know those who brew some of your local favorites.
Speaking of Bent Paddle Brewing, they are planning a grand opening on Thursday at 3 p.m. and if you are lucky enough you can get a sneak peek by way of a brewery tour at noon Thursday through Saturday. If you plan to do this, you should sign up on the website before they fill up.
It wouldn’t be Craft Beer Week in Duluth without a trip to Fitger’s Brewhouse for a sampling of the special releases that they have planned. According to Dave Hoops who is the brewmaster at Fitger’s—they will be serving up Blonde on Blonde which is a tribute to Dylan Fest, and Black Solstice which is a Black Pepper Saison.
Make sure to get out there and support the best the northland has to offer.


Minnesota Craft Beer Week

Posted by: Ryan Tuenge Updated: May 13, 2013 - 11:15 AM
Minnesota Craft Beer Week starts today and the list of events seems endless. Events such as tonight’s Meet the Brewer (Joe Giambruno from Bad Weather Brewing) at Northbound Smokehouse Brewpub will help connect the community to those who are making our favorite local beers. The event goes from 5-7 p.m. and will feature $3 pours of Bad Weather brews.
There will also be special beer releases such as Size 11 from Steel Toe Brewery at Muddy Waters (one of the best craft beer bars around) on Thursday at 3 p.m. and Town Hall Brewery’s  2013 barrel-aged Wee Heavy which will be released on Wednesday at the brewpub. The Herkimer will be tapping a firkin of their dry hopped Rye PA on Friday and Lift Bridge will be releasing Minnesota Tan fermented with raspberries on Friday as well. Big Jim IPA infused with Cara Cara zest will be released on Friday at Northbound and will feature $3 pints from 5 p.m. until the keg runs out.
Bent Paddle Brewing is set to open their doors on Thursday at 3 p.m. and the grand opening celebration will go through the entire weekend. If you live up in Duluth you will not want to miss this. Another thing you should know is that Town Hall Brewery is going to be featuring Happy Hour pricing all day on Thursday.
For a complete list of the happenings check out the 10,000 Minutes of Minnesota Craft Beer calendar from the Minnesota Craft Brewers Guild.

Northbound Now Selling Growlers

Posted by: Ryan Tuenge Updated: May 5, 2013 - 4:37 PM


On Monday, May 6th Northbound Smokehouse Brewpub will officially begin growler sales. The brewpub expanded their fermentation space back in February to keep up with demand and to allow them to sell their four year-round brews in the popular 64 oz package.
Growlers available on Monday will be Big Jim IPA, Light Rail Pale Ale, Smokehouse Porter, and Honey Wheat. Later this summer their seasonal offerings will also be made available for growler sales. One of the advantages to purchasing a growler is that the beer is always fresh and it is one of the best ways to share local beer.
Growlers make a perfect addition to a backyard fire, grilling, playoff hockey, and for baseball games throughout the summer. 






Badger Hill Releases High Road Everyday Ale

Posted by: Ryan Tuenge Updated: April 14, 2013 - 12:21 AM


Grilling season is near and Badger Hill Brewing is releasing a session beer to celebrate. High Road Everyday Ale doesn’t disappoint sporting two fine New Zealand hops—Wakatu and Galaxy and is backed by a refreshing pilsener malt. What’s really neat is that they used their own MSB yeast (a British strain) which lends a subtle sweetness to this dry-hopped brew. Co-owner and brewer Broc Krekelberg who has been known to take his time concocting the perfect recipe for each of his brews really hit this one out of the park.
The thing about session beers is that they don’t have to be flavorless and this brew proves that point. Too often people assume that session beers are bland and lacking quality ingredients. This is simply untrue, in fact session brews are often said to be some of the hardest to make because it is hard to hide any off flavors whereas with bigger beers you can find way cover some of them up. Session beers are quickly gaining popularity across the country as evidenced by the many that can be found on liquor store shelves or on tap at neighborhood brewpubs.
As of right now you can find this on tap at The Gray House in Uptown and soon to be at many bars across the city. In late April or early May you will find High Road Everyday Ale in bottles at your favorite liquor stores across the metro.
Of course you could always stop in for their $5 tours where you get unlimited samples of High Road or any of their other beers.


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