I’ve been doing this article as a sort of New Year’s tradition for several years now, starting on my old JABlog and now continuing on Beerploma.com. This is where I go down memory lane and talk about the mainly beer-centric things I’ve done over the past year. Let us be honest–most of what I do is beer-centric! So here it goes, some of the things I’ve done, experienced, and drunk over the past year–with links to any appropriate blog entries.
January in Minnesota kind of sucks. The only thing I can think of that was awesome was Dan and I brewing our first Beerploma collaboration beer with Derek Brown from Tin Whiskers Brewing. This beer was a mole spiced sweet stout and turned out great, served at the taproom for just a few short weeks until it was all gone. We had a great time learning from Derek (who has since left the brewery to further his brewing education) and getting our first taste of professional brewing.
February in Minnesota kind of sucks too. However, Dan and I got to interview Mike Hoops from Town Hall Brewery for out podcast A One Pint Stand about Town Hall’s Barrel Aged Beer week which was pretty cool! Then we got to drink those beers a few weeks later which was even cooler and several of them made my best beers of the year list. Dan and I also got to go to Winterfest, getting in a bit early as members of the press and having a chance to talk with several of our favorite brewers. HERE is a link to our shared blog post about it. Incidentally I discovered an up and coming brewery named Lupulin there after Dan literally forced a taster glass of Blissful Ignorance like I was some kind of baby bird.
March in Minnesota…well you know the rest. Continuing our Beerploma theme (and the only thing that seems to get me out of the house in these long cold months of winter) we started out March by visiting previously mentioned Lupulin Brewing in Big Lake to interview the guys about their Big Beer Week. This was truly the start of a wonderful relationship with these fellows and I actually can’t believe I’ve only known them for a year!
Also in March our friends Jim and Lori Stroner had us over with a group of beer geeks for an epic tasting of all the Schells Noble Star series bottles. These are pretty much all wheat beers which tend to give me migraines, but I really enjoyed getting to try them all. Some of the beers were past their prime, but many were still holding up nicely!
April started with a bang as Sj and I saw Green Day in concert on the first of the month! Shortly after that we took a trip to visit
friends Kathleen and Shae in the Virginia/D.C. area for a week. Our first day was full of missed flight shananigans but ended in a fantastic beer experience in Virginia–chonicled in further detail HERE. Our second day included a couple of breweries and other adventures in Virginia HERE. Our third day continued the surrounding areas including a visit to one of my favorite breweries of the year (Adroit Theory) and is HERE. And the final write-up of our breweries and beer bars from D.C. itself are cataloged HERE. Enjoy at your own risk…you might decide you need to get out there yourself!
I finally got out to Roets Brewery in Jordan and had a fantastic time with Tim himself leading me on a merry (and beery) tour of the facilities. I wrote up my impressions HERE and have been out multiple times since with great experiences every time.
Next Sj and I took a jaunt to Illinois to visit my dad in Champaign. We visited Triptych Brewing, Blind Pig Brewery, and Riggs Brewing and I wrote up the latter HERE. We drove through Chicago on the way home and managed to hit 3 breweries in about 2 hours (Dovetail, Band of Bohemia, and Begyle)…the scene is really changing there since I moved to Minnesota!
May in Minnesota…actually isn’t so bad! Early in May I Sj and I took a day trip out to Buffalo, MN to visit Number 12 Ciderhouse and Hayes’ Public House (I wrote up the Cidery HERE).
In May I also got my new all electric homebrew system up and running and broke my fast of not brewing in over a year. Wow did it feel good to get back into my longest standing hobby!
Our friends Ken and Vicki took us all around New Ulm this month including a tour of Schell’s Brewing, the new Starkeller, and many of the local sights like Herman The German. This was a fantastic day with good people!
Late in the month our friends Jim and Lori had us up to their cabin in Remer, MN. On the way up we stopped at Roundhouse Brewery and Jack Pine’s new building in the Brainerd/Baxter area–writing them up HERE. Next along the route were Gull Dam and Big Axe breweries in Nisswa and I wrote them up HERE. While up there we made side trips to Portage Brewing and Bemidji Brewing and I wrote them up HERE. Despite all these breweries we also spent some time relaxing, playing board games, and hiking around taking pictures.
June was great! Sj and I took a trip to Milwaukee for the insane Bead and Button Show. There we met up with some of my family and with several of our friends involved in the jewelry making arts, crashed a party, ogled a jewel encrusted sports car, and much more! I actually took a jewelry photography class as well as a polymer clay class that were pretty fun. Maybe I’m in the wrong profession? We also managed to hit 6 breweries, one taphouse, and one distillery in Milwaukee and I wrote up my impressions HERE.
The next big event was Homebrew Con (previously NHC) which happened to take place right in our own backyard! The biggest gathering of homebrew geeks in the world, this one was a no-brainer! My club Jack Of All Brews got to serve our beers at Club Night and we all had a fantastic time mingling with fellow homebrewers, pro brewers, product sellers, homebrew celebrities and more. I wrote up my impressions HERE, and Dan wrote a couple of posts from his newbie standpoint.
In June we also got out to visit the newly opened Barrel Theory, which really impressed us all. Sj and I also went back to Surly’s Brewer’s Table two more times before they closed their doors for good. So good. So sad.
Getting into the depths of summer here! July started with a burst of geekery as Sj and I went to local sci-fi/fantasty/horror CONvergence in Bloomington. This is always a fun time with incredible costumes, fun room parties, panel discussions, movies, art-shows, and pretty much anything you could think to do that involves the geekly arts.
Next up was Fair State’s Mixed Culture sour-based event at their new production facility. A wonderful event on a really hot day, but I had some really stellar beers here and Fair State jumped up in my estimation quite a bit!
The end of July was notable for Dan and I getting out to Lupulin to brew our second Beerploma collaboration beer–this time on Lupulin’s full system! I wrote up the whole experience in more detail HERE, and it was amazing!
The end of July came all too fast, but was punctuated by our yearly pilgrimage to Duluth for All Pints North, where we got to visit Bent Paddle, Blacklist, Canal Park, and Hoops breweries.
I’m not sure what happened to August. Looks like I didn’t do anything. We did go to a pop-up Houndstooth beer dinner hosted by our friends Rick and Paige Didora which was pretty amazing. But that seems to be it.
Yup September seems to have disappeared on us as well. We did get out to Unmapped Brewery to interview Derek for the podcast which was pretty fun. But yeah, not a whole lot going on this month.
Now October was pretty interesting from a beer journey perspective. The guys from Lupulin bought Dan and I tickets to the GABF to help represent the Belgian Dubbel we brewed with them–which prompted Dan, Sj, and I to scramble to get our schedules open for this trip! We spent several days exporing the Denver area and taking in all the fun pre-show events around town. We visited Fermaentra, Avery, Great Divide Barrel House, Wynkoop, Crooked Stave, Cerebral, Spangalang, Hogshead, Tivoli, and the Bierstadt Lagerhaus. This was an incredible experience and I hope to do it again some time!
Once we returned to Minnesota we got to take part in Town Hall Brewery’s 20th Anniversary Beer Dinner which was quite an experience. Owner Pete Rifakes served us up a welcome cocktail of his own creation, then told stories and history of the brewery interspersed between talks from brewer Mike Hoops and chef Matt Lepisto. And the food and drink were just sublime.
The end of the month finished with a Indeed Beer dinner celebrating St. Paul’s Augustine’s first anniversary. Chef Scott Brink (of the Happy Gnome) served us some outrageous dishes (turtle??!!) to pair with some unusual beer options from Indeed Brewing. If you haven’t been there yet, you should check it out.
With a distinct weather change, November ushered in winter in Minnesota. Despite the chilly greeting, our friends Kathleen and Shea came to visit us for a few days here. We ended up doing a bit of a stay-cation downtown again to make it easier to eat and drink our way through the cities. We got out to our official Lupulin beer release party on November 11th which was a blast, followed by further exploration out to Milk & Honey Cidery and Bad Habit Brewing in St. Joseph. We took them to CanCan Wonderland and various of our favorite spots for beer and cocktails. A fine way to finish up a year.
Despite the rapid turn to frigid weather we still did some taproom trips including Headflyer, Steel Toe, Insight, and Indeed. After posting my Top 25 MN Beer List I had tons of folks suprised that Wild Mind hadn’t made my list, so we checked it out. I had a couple of amazing sour beers there (Mirabelle and Vitesse), a really good mango NE IPA, and a terrible acetone-bomb barleywine. Still not in my top 25, but I like the progress since last time I was in.
I tried to do the 12 days of RIS-mas by drinking a Russian Imperial stout each day for 12 days but between being on call and a couple of tainted beers I only completed 9 of them. I tried!
And we got three kittens! Not beer related but here is our new cuddly family…