Tips to Drink Beer From Afar at Home

Tips for drinking beer from afar in your home | Kale and Ale

Original photo by Flick user quinnanya.

One thing I love about craft beer is its exclusivity. By nature craft beer is not as widely produced, meaning it’s not as widely available. (There are exceptions to this, for example, some brewers have set up shop on both coasts.)

Because of this, it’s exciting to get my hands on brews not available in Minnesota. When I travel—even home to Iowa—I look for beers I can’t get from my own liquor store. It’s part of what’s fun about traveling.

Case in point: A recent weekend I had beer in my home in Minnesota from three well known places to have a unique selection: Wicked Weed in Asheville, N.C., Surly in Minneapolis and Russian River in Santa Rosa, Calif. Only Surly is sold anywhere near here.

Wicked Weed Russian River Surly beer Kale and Ale

From top left: Russian River Pliny the Elder, Surly Barrel Aged Pentagram, Wicked Weed Freak of Nature

Through the years, and specifically more recently, I’ve gotten more savvy about getting beer to me that I can’t buy locally, from transporting it myself or getting it from others. Below are some tips I’ve learned to cast as wide a beer-sampling net as possible in your own home.

Get a Growler to Go

A growler is a jug used to transport tap beer. The vessel is usually 64 ounces, and it’s often found at breweries and taprooms where you can fill up beer from their tap (typically good for three to five days) and take it off site for consumption. This is good because if you have a growler or buy one their, you can take beer that might not even be bottled, or certainly not sold where you live. Growler laws vary widley by state, so know before you go (can you bring your own growler, can you use the growler your size, etc.). Find growler laws by state.

Friends Going on Trips

Find a beer buddy near you and let them know what you like. I can think of two people this year alone who brought me back beers from their travels without me asking before. And because of that, I’ve done the same for them. I’ve also asked non-beer drinkers to keep an eye on things for me, too. So don’t be shy and ask, the worst they can say is no.

Pack Carefully

The above Wicked Weed bottle came back thanks to bubble wrap that I brought for that purpose. I’ve had 3 Floyds Zombie Dust the day it was bottled from the brewery by my husband Aaron packing the beer in his clothes and shoes. Take a chance if it’s worth it to you (beer won’t usually stain if you take care of it right away) and the reward can be great.

The Travel Channel video gives inspiration on the best ways to pack and travel with glass bottles.

Beer mail

Another option that you have to be careful about is trading beer via mail. You have to be careful as it’s a liquid and alcohol, so check with the carrier. Also important to keep in mind is the actual shipping. Beer Exchange has an excellent guide on how to ship beer. You can ship among people you know or find people on beer boards. Again, be smart and find out what you can ship, where and with whom.

Podcasts For Communications Professionals

Podcasts for communications professionals | Kale and Ale

Note: This isn’t a lifestyle post, per se. However, as a lifestyle blogger and professional in the communications field, I’m sharing this for the many other bloggers and communications professionals in my personal sphere. If this isn’t you but you’re into information, I hope this is helpful. Let me know if this type of post is OK in the comments below.

A longtime occasional listener of podcasts, following the popularity of Serial a few years ago solidified my interest. I started to expand what I listened to. Now, so many outlets and bloggers are podcasting, that it’s easy to find something based on your interests.

To listen more effectively, I had to organize my podcasts. I tried a few different things, but I’ve found using the Stitcher radio app to work best for me. I can listen on mobile or desktop and can easily subscribe, search for new and popular content and listen with an easy interface and experience. Below, you can see my desktop setup and some podcasts I follow.

Stitcher Radio app desktop | Kale and Ale


RELATED: Tips to leverage social media during events for extra exposure.

As a communications professional, I really enjoy podcasts about learning, business, technology, news and marketing or social media. My goal listening to podcasts is to learn something new in one of those fields, and the below podcasts all fit that bill. The podcasts I listen to and why I listen, broken into communications and news, include:

Communications Podcasts

The Science of Social MediaActionable insights you can implement right away, with topics about changes in social media that are timely.

Social ProsFind out how different companies and businesses are achieving results through social media.

Social Media MarketingFrom the people behind the popular Social Media Examiner website, this podcast looks at social media and marketing tips and success stories.

Being BossAimed at creative freelancers, it covers a variety of topics on how to handle being a freelancer, what to expect and how to succeed.

News Podcasts

Radiolab: Radiolab is more difficult to describe that it feels it should be. It’s about science, but so much more than that, mixing news, fact and everything about us and going on around us.

Serial: Serial is a serialized story, going over different themes or aspects with deep investigative reporting on a topic that isn’t finished or closed.

Freakonomics RadioBased off the books of the same name, the podcast tells us about ourselves and why things are the way they are.

TED Radio HourBased off those engaging and thought-provoking TEDTalks we have all watched, each episode is a person talking about a topic. Sure to expand your mind.

Pop Culture Happy Hour: Pop culture news, discussions, interviews and information in a fun, relaxed format that makes you feel like you are part of the conversation.

How I Built This: A look at how people built the success they have today.

This American LifeEach episode has a theme of something in the news currently, with different angles and stories within the episode that give a very human face to the discussion.

Did you find this helpful or do you have a podcast to suggest? Leave a note in comments below. I plan to write a post about blogs I follow; list any you enjoy.

Homemade Dog Treats

Louie outside | Kale and Ale

Louie makes my heart bigger than I knew was possible.

To say my blog has been on the back burner is a bit of an understatement. Case in point: Aaron and I rescued our Louie seven months ago, which means I’ve been meaning to write a post about my sweet guy for half a year! He is a 17-month-old terrier mix with beautiful coloring, an energetic personality and a huge heart. Sometimes he can be a handful, but in the end he just wants to play with everyone (and thing), showing tons of love.

There are many things about him I could focus on: his endless energy, his puppy personality, what it means for someone to rely on you, the list goes on. But I’ll focus—Start? Maybe more topics to come, no promises!—on his diet.

Louie TP | Kale and Ale

What won’t Louie eat? Nothing, so I have to watch him carefully!

The Importance of Diet

It’s been an adjustment having a meat eater in the house. Luckily I don’t have to cook for him (well, meat at least). But he’s gotten some treats that leave me squeamish or are “outside only” treats. I understand a dog’s diet, digestion and nutrition is much different than my own, and I’m not going to put my dog in harm’s way or deny him the things he needs to live a healthy, full life. But still, those hard chew treats? I really don’t need all the details of exactly what part of what animal they come from?

One thing I can control and stick to my morals on is that the food he is eating is whole and nutritious. Like my own food, I’ve started to make his treats so I know he’s getting what is good for him and what he needs. Bananas, apples, carrots, certain greens, sweet potatoes? All good. Gluten and fillers? Not so much. To help with that I’ve made him a treat and have a few more I want to try (including one my friend Amy’s dog loooooves):

Since Louie seems to enjoy ice cubes when being outside on hot days, I decided to make some cold treats, cutting herbs I have from the store and my garden (the mix pictures is cilantro, basil and mint) into ice cube trays, topping with carrot slices and pouring water on to freeze.

Louie ice cube treat | Kale and Ale

On a hot day Louie enjoys ice cubes filled with carrots and herbs.

Louie will eat anything on the ground, so I have to be careful. Do you make treats for your pet, or what kind of diet is (s)he on?

Redefining Perfect

Woman place | Kale and Ale

Recently spotted at Mad Modern furniture. It took all my will not to buy it.

I don’t consider myself a perfectionist, but I do set a lot of personal goals for myself. I love to see growth and character building through new adventures and accomplishments. Yet I find myself constantly redefining what success means, and it feels it’s been tested a lot this year.

Some might read this post as an excuse for not tending to my blog as I would like. To me, this post is about the importance of personal health and discovering the healthy balance in life.

I know I can be pretty Type A and wound tight. I love marking things off a robust to-do list. Yet I’m reminding myself a little more forcefully and often that crossing things out on a slip of paper isn’t the end goal. Living in the moment is. And often that means that times when I want to finish a blog post, I leave my computer off and focus on friends, family and myself.

It helps that I have a strong support system, can more easily and often see my family, am working Monday to Friday during the day for the first job in my life. Not everything is perfect or how I would choose it to be, but that’s life. And I’m accepting it more every day.

Kitchen dry out | Kale and Ale

My kitchen last week. Only difference now is the loud, hot blowers and driers aren’t there. Neither is the kitchen sink (still).

All aspects of life have been busy this year, and something has to give. Even this past week or so (when my first unplanned house issue with plumbing and water damage has come up) I’ve been asking myself what is the bare minimum that needs to he done today, and the blog certainly doesn’t fit in there. This year has been busy at work and the summer doesn’t look to slow down.

People have said I handle pressure well. My many years as a front page designer for a daily paper that can have a lot of crazy stories has taught me that to meet deadlines and move forward, I can only work with what I have in the present time. Sometimes that’s bare minimum, and I have to figure out what that is. But stressing about it isn’t productive. I take one thing at a time, and can’t control the rest.

While I use this blog to better myself and express myself to others, it will be on the backburner this summer as I rediscover myself.

Related: Sign up for email alerts when new blog posts go live.

Note: While I’m in a good place mentally, I need time to not be so stressed out and focus on the non-blog items in my life right now. However, if you yourself feel overwhelmed, sad or worse, please seek help. MentalHealth.gov is one resource.

 

Road Trip: Decorah, Iowa

Decorah, Iowa, is located in the northeast corner of the state, 15 miles south of the Minnesota boarder among bluffs. Best known for the eagles, liberal arts college Luther, Norwegian pride and Toppling Goliath Brewery, it’s an outdoor haven of small-town living. Having only passed through it once 18 years ago, I decided to head down Highway 52 and explore the big hiking and beer options in this small town.

Aaron and I visited over the long Memorial Day weekend, and be warned: The town shuts down on the holiday. There were only two places open downtown for breakfast, but more on that later.

Beer and Food Options in Decorah

Oneota Coop Decorah, Iowa | Kale and Ale

Oneota Community Co-Op

We arrived in Decorah around lunchtime, so we headed straight to the Oneota Co-Op, recommend by my dad. The shop itself isn’t large, but the cafe portion includes a salad and hot bar and pressed panini sandwiches. I was hard pressed (hilarious, right?!?!) to pick between the magic mushroom and chipotle tofu sandwiches, but ended up with tofu simply because I knew I would appreciate the protein from it and the two slices of cheese on it later when I was hiking and drinking. And the sandwich was amazing, featuring slices of tofu in an amazing sauce between two melty, flavorful slices of cheese. We ended up stopping at Toppling Goliath Brewery for lunch, eating on the patio and washing the food down with a hoppy beer.

Seed Saver Decorah, Iowa | Kale and Ale

Seed Saver’s with heritage seed area in the front

After lunch we made our way to Seed Savers Exchange Heritage Farm to view the gardens and hike the grounds. There is a lot of ground there, so it was fun to walk around past an orchard, through a prairie and in a pine forest. Beyond the hiking (of which there are many miles of trails with varying degrees of difficulty, pick up a map in the visitor center to find out trail features, length and difficulty) are the gardens. There is a great herb and decorative garden, but my favorite part is where Seed Savers is trying to identify possible duplicate types of produce to properly name and identify foods and to save the heritage seeds. The farm is free to visit and interesting, worth a few hours of time.

Pulpit Rock Brewing Decorah, Iowa | Kale and Ale

Pulpit Rock Brewing and chill patio

Next we stopped at Decorah’s other brewery, Pulpit Rock Brewing Company. It had a great, large patio with a great view of a city park. It was warm, so it was great to hang out outside. People kept filling in and out, ordering beers and enjoying themselves. We, however, weren’t that impressed with the beer. It wasn’t bad, it just didn’t impress us, feeling like we could take it or leave it. So we left it, but like I said, many people were taking it.

We made out way to Hotel Winneshiek, the restored turn-of-the-century hotel, to drop off our things and freshen up, and walked around the cute downtown. The Decorah Hatchery clothing and outdoor store came recommended, but was already closed for the day when we made it there, as it had very limited hours on Sundays. We walked down Main Street, passing historic buildings and looking at some interesting houses featuring large gardens and solar panels.

Main Street ends at the Upper Iowa River and an entry point for the well-maintained paved 11-mile trail around Decorah, running alongside the well-known Fish Hatchery and Raptor Resource Project, home of the Decorah eagles. We plan to bring our bikes next time and explore the trail in full.

Toppling Goliath | Kale and Ale

Tons of small-brewery charm at Toppling Goliath

This time we didn’t have our bikes so we walked back to Toppling Goliath. I recommend walking because parking isn’t great (both in size of lot and that you have to go down a steep drive to exit) and the beers are so damn delicious you won’t want to limit yourself. Pro tip: Belly up to the bar and chat up the servers to find out what fun beers they have had recently (we scored samples that way) and to learn about what beers are in the works. See current beers on tap.

Mabe's Decorah Iowa Beer Gnome | Kale and Ale

Beer-drinking gnome at Mabe’s, the best kind

After trying enough beer, dinner was in order so we walked back downtown to Mabe’s, It was a good choice for after-drink dinner, with a homey feel and delicious food. And the casual family vibe and large dining room meant we felt we could linger. From there we went back to the hotel, tired from a long day, and needing to rest for more hiking the next day.

Lots of Hiking in Decorah

We ate breakfast at our hotel restaurant, Restauration. It was only one of two places open for the holiday, but by going there we weren’t settling; it was a fantastic meal. It focuses on homemade and local food, which is a warm welcome in a hotel restaurant. I got the blue plate special (served on a blue plate!): eggs, potatoes, fruit (instead of meat) and toast, and the potatoes where smashed and fried with the skins on, seasoned well, and the eggs were local. Very filling meal for around $6.50, great to keep me nourished while hiking, and good coffee, too.

Dunnings Springs Decorah, Iowa | Kale and Ale

Dunnings Springs is totally worth the stop

Right inside town are three parks next to each other, each worth exploring: Dunnings Springs, Ice Cave and Palisades. Each is worth a stop, even a quick one, on its own. The spring can be seen from parking and is very impressive, and there are benches to sit and view, so it’s a great spot to visit no matter your athletic ability. View hiking options in Decorah.

Decorah really has a little of everything I look for in a getaway, and I can’t wait to return.