The recent surge of new craft beer breweries has some people wondering if the Twin Cities scene has reached a saturation point. I don't fall into that camp. Let me put this into perspective for you: Last month, the world's largest brewer, Anheuser-Busch InBev, bought Corona maker Modelo for $20.1 billion.
That's what I call saturation. For the sake of our tastebuds, I think the more craft breweries, the better.
Here's the latest on two breweries that launched this past week. Excelsior Brewing has opened in the scenic suburb of the same name, just a couple of blocks from the lakefront. The brewery's beer lineup will lean more toward sessional-style brews, which have lower alcohol content. But they're coming out guns blazing with Bridgejumper, an IPA that clocks in at 8 percent alcohol. The beer is available in the brewery's taproom and will spread to area bars soon.
Excelsior's taproom joins only a few on-premises, pint-selling breweries in the Twin Cities, such as Fulton, Harriet and Lift Bridge. It'll be open Thursday through Saturday. Growlers will be sold, too.
The owners -- John Klick, Jon Lewin and Patrick Foss -- have brought in ace head brewer Bob DuVernios, formerly of Great Waters in St. Paul. He's brewing on a 20-barrel system, about the same size as Fulton's. Excelsior's XLCR Pale Ale should be ready within a week, and he's working on a blonde ale, too.
Less than 10 miles away is another new craft beer operation, Badger Hill Brewing in Minnetonka. Brothers Broc and Brent Krekelberg celebrated their launch last Thursday at Señor Wong.
The guys are all about well balanced ales that tip a hat to their American and European roots. Their first beer is an ESB (Extra Special Bitter), which they're calling MSB (Minnesota Special Bitter). The rest of Badger's lineup will lean heavily on German and Belgian styles. Down the road, be on the lookout for Foundation Stout and Three Tree American Rye.
Badger's setup is unusual. The Krekelbergs are brewing out of Lucid's brewery, but this isn't contract brewing. Instead, it's a federal designation called an Alternating Proprietorship agreement, which allows two licensed breweries to brew in the same facility.
Soon enough, Badger Hill and Excelsior will be joined by even more breweries, including the recently announced 612Brew, Dangerous Man and Indeed Brewing. This is what I call diversifying the marketplace. Who else is going to take on the $20 billion breweries of the world?Louis C.K. has an offer you can't refuse
One of the planet's funniest and most successful comedians, Louis C.K. wants to sell his tickets directly to you -- for less and without those annoying fees. This isn't a joke. The comic's latest sure-to-sell-out tour will bring him to the Minneapolis Convention Center Oct. 4-5. The only way to get the tickets is through his website. The cost? A flat $45. The comedian announced the game-changing move last week, saying: "My goal here is that people coming to see my shows are able to pay a fair price and that they be paying just for a ticket. Not also paying an exorbitant fee for the privilege of buying a ticket. ... Either way, I still make a whole lot more than my grandfather who taught math and raised chickens in Michigan."
I have a few updates on one of the Twin Cities' best and most peculiar bars: Donny Dirk's Zombie Den. None of which have to do with the Zombie Apocalypse, but if there was such an apocalypse this would be the best place to hide and drink away your flesh-eating anxiety. Leslie Bock recently scaled back her bar's late-night closing time, so the official hours are now 5-11 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday. While kitschy fun is her thing, Bock was dead serious about the rising amount of late-night crime in Donny Dirk's north Minneapolis neighborhood.
That said, those in the know (which now includes you, dear reader) are welcomed at the bar at the secret (and random) opening time of 3:44 p.m. (from then until 5 p.m. you can enjoy a $2 craft beer pre-happy hour). Official happy hour is 5-7 p.m. and includes half-price whiskey and wine, plus $4 taps. More fun stuff: The bar now offers live jazz on Wednesdays and Thursdays. As for munchies, ask for a "survival meal" (like the ones the troops eat) or the retro ice cream cocktails.
2027 N. 2nd St., Mpls. 612-588-9700. www.donnydirks.com.
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