HOPtoberfest: New Twin Cities Autumn Craft Beers

The leaves are falling, the days are getting shorter, there is a crispness in the air. The lighter, sessionable, citrusy beers are making way for more malty, caramel and darker beers to help us stay warm. I love fall for many reasons, and the Oktoberfest beers are one reason. At HOPtoberfest at the Cub Stillwater Wine and Spirit shop last week, I sampled local craft beer and met the brewers from Rush River, Lift Bridge, Summit, Bad Weather and Fulton breweries.

HOPtoberfest Cub Stillwater | Kale and Ale

The scene at HOPtoberfest at Cub in Stillwater.

It was fun to talk in an intimate setting to the brewers and those on the front lines in the shops, about their beers and thoughts on beer. And it was fun to talk with others there about what they liked, why and what brought them out. It was a diverse crowd. I love beer tastings, because I’m a lot more likely to try a few ounces of a style of beer I would never order a pint of. Case in point: My favorite non-hoppy beer was Lift Bridge Fireside Flannel Brown Ale (a rebranding of the Chestnut brown ale) with coffee, chocolate and just the right amount of cinnamon.

HOPtoberfest Rush River | Kale and Ale

Rush River with it’s Wet Hop Minion IPA growler.

I also finally tried Fulton’s Hopstar, and learned that shortly there will be a hopped up version of it, Specter NE IPA. I can’t wait to try that. While Summit brought it’s 25th version of the Unchained series, the brewer for 26 was there talking about it. West of Seventh will be a Belgian dark ale available later this month. How perfect will that be for winter? Bad Weather brought it’s Earl Gray beer, Tippin It Down. The Earl Gray is noticeable, but not intrusive, as it lends a great balance to the beer. Rush River threw a happily surprising curve by bringing a growler of it’s wet-hopped beer, Minion IPA with wet hops. What a treat, I’m glad I could experience that, since I don’t see myself getting to the taproom during the wet-hopped beer timeframe.

What seasonal local beers are you now drinking or looking forward to? Do you plan to try any of the above beers?

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.

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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.

Craft Beer Events Bingo

Once you start getting into craft beer, going to bars that have a good (hopefully rotating) selection of brews, or following bars and resources on social media, you will become aware of craft beer events, festivals, tastings and release events. At these events, you are likely to see the same types of people and happenings. It’s often so expected and cliché, you might become surprised when you don’t see it.

I recently wrote about going to Surly Darkness Day, and this weekend I went to the largest Surly tap takeover ever, 36 taps of Surly! Being a beer I really like being held close enough where I could bike, these have been exciting events for me.

 

These types of events bring out all kinds of people. This is awesome, as everyone is in a different place for craft beer or has a different reason to love it. Some people are curious and new to the scene, some come to get rare beers (as is the case for me at the tap takeover), some just like a good party. The reason for everyone is different, but the goal is to have a good time and enjoy a drink or two. I’m the type of person who seeks out new beers, so I’ve been to an event or two in my day. And since I love watching people and am curious and detail oriented, I’ve noticed some similarities in all the events.

Kale and Ale Beer Bingo

With that, I have with the help of my friend Kim, also a craft beer event fan, put together a bingo card that can be used at craft beer events and festivals. Click the card below and you will be taken to 16 Bingo cards where the words (think: pretzel necklace, person wearing unironic beer shirt, baby in stroller or hanging from parent) are in different boxes. If you use this, let me know how it goes over and how accurate it was (or feel free in the comments below to suggest more/new/different words to add).

Beer Bingo | KaleAndAle.com

 

Friday links

Remember when I used to do my “Friday links” featuring my favorite links of the week? Don’t blame you if you don’t remember, I looked back and it’s been two years since the last one! Nowadays I pretty much link on the Kale And Ale Facebook page as I come across things to share (so, like the page already!), but I’ve seen so many good items this week that Friday links is back.

Let’s get started. The best this week was The Sporkful podcast about shower food and drinks (the right beer, how to eat properly, etc.). Finally shower beer gets its 15 (well, 5) minutes of fame. Worth all 20 minutes of the show.

Next, my former newspaper, The Palm Beach Post, has a special section on craft beer called TAPPED, and starts with Five Things to Know When Visiting a Craft Brewery.

Brewpubs gain entry to the Minnesota State Fair, which starts Thursday. Speaking of the state fair, if you go (I hope to try to go for the first time) here is a list from last year of vegan/vegetarian friendly food at the Minnesota State Fair. Does anyone know of a list of Minnesota State Fair vegetarian/vegan food for this year? Also, since I’ve never been to the fair, what things must I do/try?

Duluth craft beer bus tour

Enjoying my first beer of the day, at Bent Paddle in Duluth

Enjoying my first beer of the day, at Bent Paddle in Duluth

After 10 weeks in my new home, I went on my first road trip, only I didn’t need to do any driving! I had previously heard about a daylong organized bus tour to breweries in Duluth. Since it was an organized craft beer tour to a place I had never been yet known for craft beer, I jumped at the chance. And I’m pleased to say, the Get Knit North Shore Brewery Tour and our hosts Shannon and Nick did not disappoint.

Here is a snapshot of my trip about 2/3 through the day before my phone died:

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For $109, you get transportation and 13 hours of well-organized entertainment. The day starts with coffee and a light breakfast as you travel the two hours to Duluth. A hearty lunch and dinner, snacks and water are included, as is plenty of beer at each of the six stops.

Since I had never been north of the Twin Cities, I staked out a prime viewing spot on the bus. And it was near the front, which I quickly realized was good because 1) It was far from the bathroom, and 2) You get off the bus and into the brewery quickly.

There were six stops, so I won’t review them all. But I will mention the stops and why this tour was worth a full day and $109.

First, the stops (in order):

And why it’s worth your time:

  • The tour is very well organized
  • You stop all around Duluth (and a bonus with Castle Danger about 40 minutes north)
  • The breweries vary widely in size, years in existence, reason for getting started and goals
  • The food and snacks are included
  • Duluth is an up-and-coming beer scene, according to this article, and after visiting, I agree with the points mentioned
  • It’s fun to meet the people who make the beer and love drinking quality beer
  • Great scenery
  • You don’t need to drive but you can enjoy a beer on the bus!

As of right now, there are 5 spots left for April. I would snag the April or May trip if you can! Register here.

I’m already planning a trip to Duluth when (if?) the snow is gone. Are there any spots I have to visit? They don’t have to be beer related, but I’m already going to try to get some Castle Danger brew when I’m up there.