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image source: blackmarketbarbecue.com

If there is one thing that we can say that we know, it is barbecue. For years we have competed with our ribs and brisket – and hesitated buying meat from others as few compare to the level of care we give to the preparation, cooking and rest needed to create great meals. Chain BBQ joints and local favorites always seem to miss an element of what makes barbecue great: a feeling of friendship between the guests, the meat and the cook preparing it. The moment you walk up to the table where Black Market BBQ has parked you instantly feel like you are a member of the team and have been there all day with them and shared the experience.

The crew rolls up in the smoker trailer in the early morning and fills it with racks of ribs and slabs of brisket. Talking with the chef he says there is “no better time to be out, the birds are singing and the sun is just in the right spot”. I wish I could be that chipper that early in the morning. The smoker gets up to temp and the meat rotates away within the trailer, soaking up and absorbing all the flavors with it.

After hours of cooking their truck rolls up, and the meat is released from its vessel. Go ahead, ask them to look inside the smoker, he will bring you right up to the doors and show you the Narnia-esque land of meat inside, dark from the history of smoke brought through the trailer with the redolence only a pitmaster can bring. 

But all this does not build you up for the tastes you are going to get from this system. Note: If you are a person who needs a sauce to go along with your meat you will not find that here.  This is a dry-rubbed, brined type of place. Order a brisket and it comes in a asian take-out style container overfilled with meat and the juices that come with it. Ribs come in a coffee bag with about 4 bones in each. Nothing more, nothing less, and we like it that way.

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image source: blackmarketbarbecue.com

We will leave this review with some excerpts taken from their website, because it summarizes them so well: “This is Minnesota BBQ directly off the pit, with a dry rub that never needs sauce. This isn’t Memphis. This isn’t Texas. It’s not whatever you’ve had that was supposed to be the best barbecue ever. This is Minnesota BBQ, and it’s really, really good. Just like it’s supposed to be.”

Food: 5/5 If you are looking for smoked meats cooked slow, this is it.
Drink: -/5 Food only, although it is known to park at breweries.
Atmosphere: 5/5 The best people, doing what they love.
Overall: 4.5/5 Why the ding? They are not open more (but thats it)!

It was a Thursday night lull that brought us again to Mayslacks. One of those nights when you are sitting down after a day on the job and the thought of going to the fridge and concocting a delicious dinner sounded more like a marathon than a sprint. This night, we were guided to Mayslacks – no real reason why, just a compass guiding the steering wheel after we pulled out of the driveway to delicious meats.

The place was surprisingly bare. In previous trips to this joint it was either hard to find a table or hard to hear the people across the table because of the joviality of the patrons. Tonight had neither, and it was a wonderful spring night so we headed out to the patio to find the same concentration of people.

A few Summit Maibocks were ordered ($4 a pint this month!) and we looked at the same menu we have looked at over all the years logged since our first visit. Roast beef is, and deservedly so, their best menu item in whatever vessel you choose to eat it with. This time, I went with the Hot Italian Beef  (pictured here) that comes with shoestring fries, cup of au jus  and a generous helping of what I can only define as the spiciest relish I have ever tasted (that came with the resulting 4am wake up call).IMG_6346

The bun was soft, the fries were well cooked and the roast beef was amazing. Like I said before, anything that comes with the beef is worth trying at this place.

Stan Myslajek would still be proud of this place. Put his roast beef in the ring with any competitor an his would still come out on top.

Food: 4.5/5 Roast beef. Garlic, juicy and delicious
Drink: 3/5 impressive list, all beers came mostly flat
Atmosphere: 3/5 If dark and damaged is your thing, this is your place
Overall: 3.5/5 Great food and lots of character in its history

The head brewer at Modist is a part “the dude” and part “Doc Brown”. Talking with him you see the gears turning about what the conversation is about but you also get that shimmer in the eyes that his mind is really working out what he has left to do for his brew day. The members of mancuisine had the opportunity to take a tour from this gentleman and their operation is one that should be dismantled and digested in its inner workings to appreciate its complexity.

First off, they don’t brew with broken grains through a mill the extract the sugars from. They take the grains and pulverize them into flour before introducing them to the brewing system. From this flour the generate cakes at the end of the process and not the oatmealy mash that most brewers have to decide what to do with. The flour is mixed with water and pumped into a giant horizontal press where are the sugars and grain flavor is pumped out of. This is what really marks Modist as being unique – instead of vertically pouring water over the grain to extract the sugars they press it our, making a much more efficient brew. The rest of their system is generally the same as what you would find in our new additions around the twin cities.

Thats all well and good, but how is the beer? I have to be honest, I tried their beer when it first opened and I had no love for any of them. Too dry, too acidic, tasted like tainted water, you name it – the problems were there. But now? I would recommend picking up a can in the store or trying a couple pints of what they make. This brewery is not for everyone, but then again neither was Summit or Surly, and look where they ended up! Wasteland was a great beer to try and compare with others that I thought mentally compared to it.

Just a heads up, they do not have their own growlers but do fill the vessels from any other place.

In May of this year I married the most wonderful person. It was a ceremony that people will remember (it was 32 degrees out in the orchard) and a reception people may not (we went through over 2,000 bottles of beer). 3 months later we went on our honeymoon to Colorado and stayed at a house near Edwards in the Vail Valley. It was there that we stumbled upon, literally, Crazy Mountain Brewing Company.

In Denver, where they began, rent is not cheap and space is hard to come by. In Edwards, the “downtown” is the opposite. Crazy mountain expanded into the community a few years back and their remote brewing facility began and the taproom we found opened. Touring the area we always found our way back to this one – it was small, yet developed, engaging and tasteful – something you will find in this Wit.

Drinking this beer takes me to a barbecue, and in winter that is not an easy task, mentally. On the nose there is a hint of molasses, mixed in with marmalade and a light green fruitwood smoke. Drinking it does not give the same flavors – its botanical like my father’s garden, full of floral and herbs. So the whole package here is late summer with the cookout made with the fruits of the labor in the garden. Its like my favorite event – smökathon – that we put on every summer, full of flavors and experiences you may not expect.

While Wit may not be my favorite style by far, this beer does well in my book for what it does in my head, remind me that I am fortunate to have all of you with me. So from the pit to the garden I raise this glass to you – thanks, and happy trails.

Holding this beer in hand you have to feel a little giantesque. Its a 14oz tallboy. Weird. Its like a small redbull with beer instead of funk. But the funk is still in there – this one gives it off as a funk of old malt on the nose instead of the funk of college. That comparison doesn’t quite do the beer justice, as this one also smells like college as well after drinking it for a while…

Its Crisp! The name got it right. This lager beer gives rise to grain fields and bubbly yeast. Its a flavorful beer in a small vessel. Hopefully in the future they can expand on their ideas and offer something more inside the can, either in volume or in flavor. That is all.

 

“Brewed under the purity law of 1516”

We were fortunate to get this beer as a 24-pack (some of you following us in the beer advent have found a one-off or two due to not being able to find 24 of one type). Total Wine was unloading this case as we were coming around and the research we did on it had us tac this one into the list.

This Doppelbock has all that the style has to offer. Malty, toasty, boozy. It even has that bit of metallic twang at the end. There is a german restaurant in the area called the “Black Forest Inn” (and how do we not have a review of there on this site!?) that imbues the ideas I get while drinking this beer.

Story time: There was a winter a few years back where the twin cities were hit with snowstorm and proximity and a gift certificate had us push the snow aside as we opened the doors to the german joint we had heard so much about. A few regulars sat at the bar and we sidled up next to the least-drunk ones and ordered our first round and gravy-ridden appetizers. By the end of this drink, and a few that others sent our way, we were raising our mugs to the air and singing drinking songs of the motherland while snow continued to pile up outside. We left with a group of friends that night who we had never met before.

Thats what this beer tastes like to me. Easy – like a night spent staying warm and having conversations with people while eating wonderful food. But thats just me – whats your thoughts? Leave you comments below.

28 IBUs – 6.1% ABV – Caramel, Apple, Earthy, Floral, Earthy

This beer is a malt powerhouse. The color conveys it all, a deep red that has almost no visibility through the glass. There is a surprising faint aroma of caramel apple on the nose. Not heavy, but faint like a pie baked at the neighbors house. It is a basic beer, nothing to note on either side – good or bad.

New player in town. Located in Faribault MN, famous for their caves and F-Town is trying to make it famous for their beer as well. To me, it is an odd composition of a brewery saying they are going to be famous when they are also advertising that they need a head brewer as well…

This poured into a glass with no head, and low carbonation climbing the sides. Decent beer, but I might go for the Barley John’s Wild Brunette instead – both were high malt big beers but the Brunette had a better mix of flavors and balance of carbonation, hops and malt.

First thing of note: Before you open it, notice the word “Crushable” given as a complete sentence in its side. Not in reference to the can it resides in, but in reference to the liquid it holds. The phrase itself gives way to the memories (or absence of memories) of nights spent in old basements on college campuses and the lingering smell of this beer in the air. Yes, I would say this beer smells like college. Giving heed to the can, I decided to try to crush this beer and drink the whole thing in one go. Sorry Baderbrau, this beer is not “crushable”. I would have your marketing department try “$1 Happy Hour Worthy” instead.

Its not that this beer is bad. It is what it claims to be – easily drinkable. Its carbonated water with a barley insert. So the second thing of note: What makes this a Bohemian Pilsner? There is almost no head on the pour, there is no spice from the hops, and the flavor has no complexity to it. If they did use the Saaz hops required of the style, there is little lasting effects of its addition to the brew.

So, the final thing of note to this review: Chicago, you can keep your pilsner, the twin cities will continue to drink the bohemian pilsners here that truly represent the style.

This beer pays an homage to a lady the brewer knows that could be classified as a “wild brunette”. Having known brunettes in my past it makes sense that this beer company moved from Minnesota to Wisconsin, and lets everyone know that they came from MN. Left too early to see the beer boom here and now longs to be known once again as a Minnesotan…

You might be confused when you drink it – unless you know what wild rice tastes like from the field. This is not a beer that will blow your mind or having you set it down the first time to a “wow”. This one builds on you. Like “Minnesota Hot Dishes”. An outsider looks at it and tries it, but there is not much there. Then there is the second tasting. For this beer, this is the subtle harshness of the Wild Rice – for the hot dish it is the subtly of the minor flavors like mushroom or potato. The color comes from the wild rice as well, with a red-brown hue.

Overall, this one is a tasty treat, but its wonderment may be lost to those who do not treasure the flavor of wild rice as we do – which may be why Barley John’s is trying to be “Minnesotan” again…

ABV 6.5% – 75 IBUs – Citra & Cascade hops – Tangerine Puree

This is an IPA that was made for the nose. Pouring this into a glass it comes out orange-brown and has the distinct, and heavy, aroma of citrus rind. It has more grapefruit than tangerine on the nose, but the flavor comes through with a blood orange and clementine taste. Its description has it brewed with tangerine puree, but after tasting it this could just be spooned out of a cylinder of juice from your freezer.

I’d call this one a gateway IPA. Something you give to your aunt who loves grapefruit but can’t drink it anymore, and at a holiday gathering you pass this to her and just say “Try it”. “But I don’t like beer, what kind is this?“. “Violet, you’ll like it”. “But what kind is it?“. “It is an IPA, just try it already!”. “Ok, but if I don’t like it I am giving it back“.

Later that night you find your empty case in the beer cooler of a garage and Aunt Violet digging around in the attic for her old doll set, half naked and yelling that someone downstairs ruined her childhood. Like I said, gateway IPA. I’d say its good for a one-pour at a bar, but I would not go for another.