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.

Easy DIY Beer Swag Art

DIY beer swag art | Kale and Ale

Are you like me and you’ve amassed a collection of beer swag over the years, often for free from events and breweries? And like me, is it just sitting in some box or drawer or closet or shelf, out of sight? And like me, do you have basement walls begging for art that displays your interests? If so, wow, we’re really similar, let’s meet (at a tap room obvi, right?!?!).

Even if you don’t say “yes” to all the questions, I have a fun, quick way to show your love of suds: Easy DIY Beer Swag Art! Seriously, this project took about 20 minutes to put together (although times vary on amount of items you are using, but it’s so quick!).

You can make it look however you want. I’ve left mine with room to grow as I visit more places and collect more items.

You will need:

DIY beer art items | Kale and Ale

Items to make your DIY beer art poster

  • Poster frame in a good size to display items
  • Poster board
  • Double-sided tape or scrapbooking stickers like this
  • Scissors
  • Beer swag-I used coasters and stickers, any flat item works best

What to do:DIY beer art | Kale and Ale

  • Cut poster board, if needed
  • Arrange items for poster
  • Stick coasters, stickers, etc. to board with tape
  • Place in frame and hang
  • Grab a beer and admire your work

How do you display your memorabilia? I would love to see a picture if you make this or have another way you show off your goods!

Review: Craftapped Craft Beer Community

Craftapped gave me a three-month membership at no charge to review it’s service, which focuses on connecting craft beer lovers in the Twin Cities with venues. All opinions are my own. Site contains affiliate links where I earn a free beer voucher if you sign up using my link.


Craftapped is a social revolution built by beer lovers, for beer lovers.” That’s the slogan, and it’s quickly clear it’s how they really feel. Craftapped is a new service available in the Twin Cities area that allows you to try beers at area partner establishments (bars, taprooms and restaurants). With the program, subscribers get four vouchers a month, each good for one free beer that can be used at a different location, with new locations constantly being added. In addition, there are many member happy hours where Craftapped provides the first beer. I’m going to my first member event tomorrow (Thursday), so if you’re at Wicked Wort, please say hi! Join here to get in on the fun.

I’m into my second month of membership and it’s great. One month is $9.99 with one month free. No fewer than eight beers for less than $10, the happiest hour (er, two months) in the Twin Cities! The best part is that with the membership you have to redeem at a variety of places. While I love exploring new venues, it’s very easy to get stuck in old habits. But with Craftapped vouchers in hand, I have no excuse not to explore that restaurant in St. Paul or tap room in Northeast that I haven’t been to yet. No excuse, yes beer.

Craftapped voucher

Photo courtesy Craftapped

One warm Saturday I visited Bauhaus Brew Lab for the first time and headed to a nearby taproom, Indeed, which I haven’t been to in far too long but I like. Two free beers in one neighborhood! I’m planning to use a warm weekend day and my vouchers in March as a reason to explore Wayzata.

RELATED: Day trip to Waconia, where a few member establishments are reviewed.

Thanks to Craftapped for getting me out there trying new establishments and beers. It’s great to have this service available in such a beer-forward area, and I love the idea of bringing the beer lovers of our community together. If you would like to try Craftapped, check it out and get started here. Gift subscriptions are also available.

YOU MIGHT LIKE: Craft beer event bingo boards.

2015 In Review: Drink

2015 year in review: Drink | Kale and AleThis is the third in a series featuring highlights from 2015. Today I take a look at drinks and recipes I’ve enjoyed this year. Monday we discussed food and Wednesday talked about the active things I did this year so check it out. Share your highlights of each topic in the comments!

Since I moved into a house late 2014, I haven’t been going out as much, but I was able to try some new places and drinks. I made a point of going to Fulton Brewing and trying the HefeWheaties and going to the 36-tap takeover of Surly Beer at New Bohemia Bier and Wurst Haus, both worth it.


Since I have a house and more room, Aaron and I brewed a hoppy ale that both hopheads and malt fans enjoy. We hope to brew our next beer soon.

Maple Island 2 Headed Goose beer |

The beer I was most looking forward to at the Minnesota State Fair, a Maple Island 2 Headed Goose.

As I mentioned in the food highlights post, I had many good beers at my first Minnesota State Fair.

And don’t forget to bring my craft beer event bingo cards to your next tap takeover or craft beer festival, simply print them off as you’re making your pretzel necklaces.

What are your drink-related highlights of 2015?

First Time Brewing Beer

Valerie Bitter Birthday | KaleAndAle

Enjoying the first brew, it was a tasty success!

If you like Kale and Ale on Facebook, I have posted pictures of my first homebrew adventure. I won’t post much now because I hope you have been following along, but if not, here are a few thoughts!

I attended a class a few years ago about brewing my own beer. They kept saying you can both mess it up and not mess it up, and the risk seemed too great to lay down all the money to get equipment. In steps a boyfriend with equipment, a science mind and experience! OK, I’m in.

We went to Northern Brewer and picked out an extract kit, which gave detailed directions, and even if you have questions, Northern Brewer is there to help, as they asked if we had any questions, had the right yeast, etc., before leaving. We opted for a bitter pale ale based on the temperature where it would be stored and our tastes in beer.

Sterilize beer | KaleAndAle

Had to realize when things had been sterilized. Don’t be that guy who ruins the beer, Val!

The hardest part of brew day was that it took some time and that everything had to be sterilized and it was so hard to remind myself what had been sterilized and to not touch it after the fact. But it was great adding hops smelling them and knowing how when they are added in the boil process will affect the outcome. At the end of brew day I was really giddy. Each step along the way was quick and another step closer to beer. Every day I would run to the carboy and look at the progress as it was moving along.

First ferment | KaleAndAle

First fermenter is active.

Second ferment | KaleAndAle

Moving to the second fermenter and dry hopped the beer.

Opening the first bottle and hearing the carbonation escape was a relief, and I loved tasting the hard work that we made.

Bitter Birthday bottle | KaleAndAle

Capping it old school.

Since then, we have talked about what style we might make next, creating our own recipe based off what we know about beer, what we have read and our preferences. As a recipe developer, this is very exciting for me and sounds like the perfect winter activity.

Do you brew beer? If so, how did you get into it and what memorable experiences do you have?