January Is Craft Beer Festival Month

Old Man Winter may bring us cold weather, but Minnesota’s craft brewers are working hard to warm things up a little this January.  Beer enthusiasts should be able to find a craft beer tasting close to home this season, and find a nice winter warmer ale or russian imperial stout to take the edge off the cold.

Mankato Craft Beer Expo
When: January 11, 2014 from 2-6pm
Where: Verizon Wireless Center in downtown Mankato
The expo will showcase the offerings of craft breweries here in Minnesota, as well as all over the United States. Attendees to the expo will have the opportunity to sample beers from 40 different craft breweries in a commemorative sampling glass.  In addition to this, they can enjoy educational seminars throughout the day covering subjects such as Food Pairing, Homebrewing, and the History of Brewing in Minnesota.

St. Cloud Craft Beer Tour

When: January 18th, 2-5pm
Where: River Edge Convention Center
Here’s an opportunity to try samples of approximately 150 craft beers from all over Minnesota and the country. Food will be available for purchase for all attendees and there will be a selection of retail vendors on-site. VIP  attendees will have the first hour to themselves to sample these great brews.

Beer Dabbler Winter Carnival

When: January 25, 201  from 3:30 – 7:30pm
Where: The Mighty Midway in the Minnesota State Fairgrounds
The Beer Dabbler Winter Carnival is back for a fifth year! With more than 150 local, regional, and national breweries sampling the best craft beer around, live music, gourmet food from local food trucks and carts, a homebrew contest, Silent Disco, and fun winter activities, the Beer Dabbler Winter Carnival 2014 is the biggest outdoor beer festival Minnesota has to offer.

Winterfest 2014

When: Friday, January 31, 2014 from 7-10pm
Where: Union Depot in St. Paul, MN
This year (2014) will be the 13th annual Winterfest! This craft beer sampling event celebrates beer brewed in Minnesota by the breweries and brew pubs that are current members of the Minnesota Craft Brewers Guild. Chase out the winter chill with a multitude of Winter Warmers, hearty food, beer education, entertainment and music.

Savor the Flavor Responsibly

Do you know of another craft beer event in Minnesota?  Please comment below with the details and we’ll highlight it here with the rest.


Don’t Fear the Foam

Dont Fear the Foam
Don’t Fear the Foam

I use StarSan to sanitize my equipment, and if you have ever used the product, you have noticed that it creates a lot of foam.  The foam is often difficult to get out of the fermenter or carboy, and looks scary to first time users.

I too was a bit concerned by the amount of foam in my carboys and kegs, so I searched the homebrew forums and read over and over again that there is no reason to be concerned about it.  Over and over, from several  brewers, I read “don’t fear the foam”.

So, I let go of my concerns, and just racked into the carboys and kegs, and they are right.  As you can see by this photo, the wort will just push the foam out of the carboy/keg.  For the little bit that remains, the amount is negligible.  In fact, some even suggest that in the tiny amount present, it may actually aid fermentation.

Denver Brewery Expedition 2013 Day 3

Coors Brewhouse
Coors brewhouse for their specialty beers.

What the heck, we might as well check out Miller Coors and tour the brewery in Golden Colorado.  At least that’s what we thought.  Spare yourself the misery.  We had to wait an hour and a half under an awning next to a parking lot for our “tour.”.

The best part of the tour was the short bus ride around Golden when the guide gave us a brief history lesson about the town and the brewery.  Once at the brewery, we’re fist greeted by a photographer that want to get a portrait in front of a green screen so they could superimpose our image over a Coors scene.  We passed on this opportunity.  Next, folks taking the tour are offered a little radio type device that you put to your ear to hear the audio portion of the self guided tour.  They were out of them for Jack and I, and we would have needed to wait in the lobby for a while to get one.  We proceeded without.

urinal at Coors brewery tour
The most interesting sight at the Coors tour!

The tour consists of walking a route, looking through windows at old equipment, and reading posters/looking at photos  about the brewing process.  It would have been a little more interesting if we had the squawk boxes, but only a little bit.  At the end of the tour we were able to sample some Coors beer, but we did only one small sample.

I’ve been on the Miller Brewery tour in Milwaukee, and it was a lot more interesting.  I expected something similar here, but was disappointed.

Mountain Toad Brewery doesn’t let us down! This is more like it!

Mountain Toad Brewing
Talle serving up a flight of Mountain Toad beers

Located just a couple blocks from downtown Golden, on the main drive, you can find this little gem.  The tap room is quaint, comfortable and practically right in the brewhouse.

I tired the beer flight, and Jack went with the porter.  MT makes very good beer.  Too bad we could not bring some home with us (Probably not a good idea to bring growlers in checked luggage.)

Lunch was from the food truck parked outside.  It was pretty good.  We headed downtown to walk around for a while before heading to our next stop in Idaho Springs and stopped at Goozell frozen yogurt for a treat

TommyKnocker Trivia
TommyKnocker Trivia

Tommyknocker Brewery is our next stop.  Located in downtown Idaho Springs, it features a full restaurant, and after food truck meals for a couple days, we were looking forwar

d to a good dinner.  Just as we were entering the place, a local who was walking by said we could do a lot better for a place to eat.

She was right about the food.  Their beer is decent, and the atmosphere is great.  Are table right next to the mash tun, and we had a chance to visit with one of the brewers while he was working.  My advice, check out the brewery, have a beer flight, and grab something to eat somewhere else in town.

Three down, three to go, so it’s back to Golden to visit Golden City Brewing and Bottles and Barrels Brewery (which was having a grand opening on this day).  We drove the beautiful Clear Creek Canyon Road from Idaho Springs to Golden, and wished we had motorcycles instead of the pickup truck we were driving.  Oh well.

Golden City Brewery Beer List
The Offerings at Golden City Brewery

Golden City Brewery is located at the historic home of the original founders, and the old carriage house is now the tasting room.  The back yard garden has several tables and chairs, and is a nice place to sample their wares..  We were there for happy hour, and enjoyed a beer flight, and really enjoyed it.

We did not linger here too long, as we still wanted to check out the newest brewery in Colorado, Barrels and Bottles, which was having it’s grand opening that very night.  We found our way to the site, and made our way to the bar.  They had only two of their own beers on tap, so we each tried one of them.  Unfortunately, mine tasted soapy, so much so in fact, that I had to pour it out.


Renegade brewing company
Gold on the bar in the tap room.

Last Stop – Renegade Brewing: We’re thankful that our hotel had a free shuttle to anywhere within 3 miles, and luckily, Renegade Brewing Company was within that radius (well, close enough anyway).   We left the hotel at about 8, and needless to say, the shuttle van was full and we were dropped off last.  We arrived at about 8:45pm  The place closes at 10, so we had plenty of time.

Renegade is a great little brewery.  We went to the Tap Room on West 9th Ave.  They also have a pub called the “Publik House” located on South University Blvd. Their beers are awesome, and the tap room is a fun place.  Too bad it closes so early.  This place is definitely worthy of a visit if you are sampling craft beers in Colorado!


Denver Brewery Expedition 2013 Day 2

Day two of Jack and Chad’s excellent adventure starts out with decision to get tickets to the Colorado Rockies performance with the St. Louis Cardinals at Coors Field.  Stub Hub came through just fine, so it was off on the LRT to downtown.  There was a lot of construction between the LRT station and downtown, so we had walk about a mile to our first brewery.

Denver ChopHouse SignOur first stop was the Denver ChopHouse and Brewery.  We were searching for a place to get a good meal and sample some beer brewed on premise.  This place met both of those criteria.  The lunch was good, and the beer was too.

It is conveniently located about two block South of Coors Field.  We had plenty of time to linger over our samples, and visit with the waitstaff before the game.

I tried four ounce samples of the Wild Turkey™ Barrel Conditioned Stout, Pilsner, Red Ale, IPA and Pale Ale.  Jack had a pint of the above mentioned Stout.  We both agreed that the stout was very good.  The other beers were fine too.

We learned once we were there that it’s part of the Rock Bottom chain chain of breweries.  That kinda took the edge off thinking we were enjoying an independent proprietor’s craft.  Nonetheless, the food was good, so was the atmosphere and most importantly, so was the beer.

Blue Moon SignOur next destination was Coors Field, which is also the symbolic home to Blue Moon..  Yeah, they have a small brewhouse in there, and MillerCoors would us to believe that all Blue Moon comes from there, but 😉 we know better.  Still, it was nice to see so many people take interest in craft brewing.  We did not drink beer at Coors Field, despite the fact that the show went on for 15 innings (we left after 9 innings, as we had no emotional stake in either ball club).

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