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 Beer

MN Craft Beer Week Plus News & Notes

Posted by: Ryan Tuenge Updated: May 5, 2014 - 10:17 PM

10,000 Minutes of Minnesota Craft Beer Week is back again from May 5th until May 11th. This year you can expect to find special firkin tappings, all day Happy Hours, beer art, special releases, and tap takeovers. All in all there are over 80 events and you can find them all on a calendar using this link.

  • Indeed Brewing will be releasing LSD in the taproom in bomber bottles on May 16th and will begin showing up in stores on May 19th.
  • Parkway Pilsner from Lift Bridge is now available in tallboy cans at liquor stores. This is the first time it will be available in stores.
  • Summit will soon (by the end of the month) be available in cans around town. The three varieties available in cans will be EPA, Sága, and Summer Ale. Check out the fancy new packaging here!
  • On Friday (May 9th) Surly will be releasing Pentagram at Amsterdam Hall in St. Paul at 4 PM as part of Minnesota Craft Beer Week.
  • Schell’s has released Noble Star #3 North Country Brünette, the third in the Berliner Weiss Collection. Jace Marti will be pouring samples of this brew at The Four Firkins on Tuesday, May 6th starting at 6 PM.

In political news the growler language was removed from the liquor bill in the Senate Tax Committee today. This is another black eye on modern politics as monetary contributions from lobbies—and threats to re-open contract negotiations from the Teamsters Union continue to influence the way that local politicians vote on the issue. Senator Roger Reinert (DFL from Duluth) will push the matter again (full repeal) in the fall in order to gain support for next session.

Cheers!

Blessing of the Maibock at Town Hall Brewery

Posted by: Ryan Tuenge Updated: May 3, 2014 - 12:09 AM

On Saturday, May 3rd the Town Hall Brewery will release their annual Maibock at all three locations. Father Aron Kramer will be blessing this highly anticipated brew and all three locations will be serving German food to celebrate.

As usual the ceremonies will all expire prior to the Kentucky Derby and patrons are encouraged to stick around for this national event. Check out the details below.

Town Hall Tap Blessing of the Maibock

Saturday, May 3 at 3 PM

One free beer followed by happy hour pricing.

Town Hall Lanes Blessing of the Maibock

Saturday, May 3 at 4 PM

One free beer followed by happy hour pricing.

Town Hall Brewery Blessing of the Maibock

Saturday, May 3 at 5 PM

Free beer from 5 PM to 6 PM

Cheers!

Beer with your buddy at The Nomad World Pub

Posted by: Ryan Tuenge Updated: April 24, 2014 - 7:22 PM

Have you ever wanted to take your dog out to the bar? On Saturday at The Nomad World Pub—thanks to K-9 Connection—you can. Tickets will be $14 at the door although canine pals are free and will enjoy free treats throughout the event.  The event has sold out!

Dogs will be free to run off leash outside in the fenced yard (weather permitting) and with your ticket purchase you will be entered into a raffle drawing with additional entries available for purchase at the event. All raffle proceeds will benefit All Dog Rescue which finds homes for rescued dogs.

Where:

The Nomad World Pub

501 Cedar Avenue

Minneapolis, MN

When:

3:00 - 5:30 on Saturday, April 26th

 
Cheers!

Product Review: The Beer Olive

Posted by: Ryan Tuenge Updated: April 23, 2014 - 10:51 PM

I had the opportunity to check out a new product from Brew Muse called a Beer Olive and review it for those of you who like to collect beer accessories. Bryce Bunkers, a Mechanical Engineer, is the guy behind it. He is currently running a Kickstarter campaign to build his initial inventory. The idea behind this product (also available in the shape of a hop cone) is to create active carbonation in your glass for the the entire time that you are enjoying your beer.

Basically, it borrows from the idea of etched glassware, but makes it portable. The Beer Olive is made of soapstone, which is food and dishwasher safe. You can get your own by making a pledge on the Kickstarter site. You can also have it personally engraved for a higher cost. 

Here is a picture of the product itself—literally the size of a large olive.

The one immediate flaw that stood out was the choking hazard, so just be aware that it is in your glass at all times. The product was designed with a hole in the middle for this reason and does make a bit of noise in the glass so you are aware of its presence.

Here are my findings:

The beer I poured was a Paulaner Hefe-Weizen. As you can see the one on the left has the beer olive in it and has more head on it.

After 10 minutes you can see that the one on the left still has a slightly bigger head and the carbonation in the body of the beer is still present.

After 20 minutes the beer on the left still has more head on it (top view) although by this point the body had lost a bit of its carbonation. 

After a half hour there was not much head to speak of in the glass on the left and the body was completely flat.

Positives:

It takes up far less space than a cupboard full of etched glasses.

The results that I got were very similar to those shown on the Kickstarter site.

It is a portable solution—plop this into a beer at the bar and it will remain carbonated throughout the time it takes you to drink it.

It is dishwasher safe and also very easy to clean by hand, for those without dishwashers.

It is aesthetically pleasing and rather fun to watch in the glass.

It will be cheaper than replacing an entire glass collection.

It is designed so that it won’t damage pint glasses.

Negatives:

It is a possible choking hazard given its size, so keep it out of the reach of children.

The production quality may vary since this is a new product and each olive or hop may not achieve the exact same performance.

I might be concerned about it breaking a thinner glass over many uses.

Overall:

This product is not necessarily a “must have,” but for many beer lovers it is an affordable alternative to replacing all of your glassware. I was a bit skeptical, yet intrigued when I was first made aware of the product. But, it performed like the site said it would, and it is certain to make a fun conversation piece when you have company. Personally, I see myself using it quite a bit due to the fact that I always pour my beer in a glass, and I like the aroma that a nice head produces. I would recommend it to anyone who does the same. Those who don’t pour their beer into a glass often, probably wouldn’t use it all that much.

If you’d like to support the project click here.But hurry, there is only about a week left on the campaign.

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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