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.

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?

Surly Darkness Day 2015

Surly Darkness Day crowd | KaleAndAle

Crowd facing the stage at Surly Darkness Day 2015.

It’s been a busy week in my world (hence the lack of posts), what with Back to the Future Day and Surly Darkness Day this week. But I have some fun posts in the next few days you will want to come back for that are worth the wait.

Back to the Future Day

As I mentioned and I’m sure you heard everywhere, Wednesday was Back the the Future Day, the day Doc Brown and Marty McFly go to in the movie “Back to the Future II.” Having grown up in the 80s, I loved the trilogy and my young self couldn’t fathom 30 years into the future and what or how things might change.

Great Scott, we made it to Oct. 21, 2015! I celebrated by dressing up and watching the movie on the big screen, which was a lot of fun. Did you do anything to celebrate?

Back to the Future Day VDennis | KaleAndAle

Ready to go back in time on Back to the Future day.

Darkness Day

Yesterday was Surly Darkness Day. This is the day their Russian Imperial Stout is released. People camp out the night before to wait and get one of the coveted wristbands that allows you to purchase the beer. That beer isn’t my style so I slept in my own bed.

Darkness Day is a big celebration with beers including special casks, food trucks and metal music (to bring the darkness). It’s held at the former Surly taproom, which is still a production facility. Since we live close enough to bike, Aaron and I decided to check it out. It was sunny and the mid-50s, so the five mile ride was nice. We zipped past the people walking in who parked far away and cars trying to find a spot nearby, and parked our bikes near the action.

Right away you pass the food trucks and music to get to the beer. Everything was well marked and there was plenty of room to move around. The line for beer tickets was short, and we hopped into the first beer line we saw. It happened to be the only place the cask beer was served and, three hours into the event, three of the five casks were already gone, so I’m glad we happened into that line.

It was long but moved quickly. I went with a Thai Cynic with lemongrass, crystallized ginger and Puya, a pepper. It had a nice spiciness at the end. We also had Furious Black, Hopshifter, Darkness 2015 (so why did people get there 11 hours before me, it was on draft people?!), Surly Pils and Damien, brewed from the remnants of Darkness, which was really good.

And because it was a beer festival with metal music, the people watching was solid. There were a lot more kids and far fewer pretzel necklaces than I expected. The best, though, was a couple with detailed homemade Surly can costumes.

Surly Darkness Day costumes | KaleAndAle

Found this couple with great homemade Surly can costumes.

All in all it was fun to be able to ride my bike to go to a Surly event. Surly beers are very unique and I was sad for me but happy for them when they closed this location near me a year ago and opened a beautiful destination brewery farther away, but its awesome to go back to the original taproom.