Taking the chance to add your homebrew to an event that rates and compares a diverse array of top brews from professional breweries across the planet is a bold move.  You are putting your craft out there for comparison with a variety of tested and often perfected recipes produced by brewers who have made the switch to brewing as a profession. In addition The decision of where to place the brew in a twenty four day event had to be a difficult decision. Put it too early in the list and risk that some have not had the opportunity to expand their palate to the variety of adjuncts and new flavors that many breweries are playing around with lately, too late and people may be more locked down on the flavors and styles that they have liked thus far. Being the third in a series of twenty four I need to disclose first that this entry came after two brews that I found highly palatable and will may end up purchasing at a future rate having enjoyed both.

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I chose to pour into a glass to best matching the style (Belgian Dubbel). It poured well with a decent head with a dark reddish amber color. The aroma had rich malty sweetness with slight notes of cranberry and very slight clove spiciness that can come from Belgian yeast. The flavor was very tart which partially distracted from the malty sweetness. The back end was somewhat bitter and the tartness from the cranberry flavor definitely remained.

Out of the gate I approached this expecting a traditional dubbel but was overwelmed by the tart cranberry. I found that given some time to come closer to room temp the tartness mellowed and I found it to be a more drinkable brew for the last few sips. I would place this brew in the category of specialty holiday brews to try once but couldn’t see going through more than one.

With the new onslaught of high end restaurants selling fancy burgers and fabricated authenticity it is always a pleasure to find a place without pretense, where the same fryer and griddle have likely been in use since before a Clinton or a Bush entered politics (maybe even a Kennedy as well). If you are looking for an establishment that is content with its current clientele and does not expense with the frivolity of trying to be “the new thing”, look not further than Schullers Tavern in Golden Valley.

The place proclaims itself the “Last Real Roadhouse”, which I take as a jab at the influx of chain based roadhouse-esque eateries that popped up in the mid to late 90’s around town (with some still remaining). Since the place first opened in 1929 I am guessing they have seen many a trendy establishment come and go and one would hope they will weather current trends as well.

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Image from http://www.schullerstavern.com

The Place: The building has clearly been built upon in a few minor expansions over the years and you may feel like you stumbled into the back alley entrance to a speakeasy (the place did open during prohibition). Upon entering you first pass a barred and locked beer cooler before actually finding your way to the bar and restaurant area. From what we gathered this is tied to off-sale liquor sales that Schullers offers. While not uncommon in the “land of cheese” or in the Northwoods, happening upon an on/off sale joint when you live in the Twin Cities metro area is like finding an hidden onion ring in your basket fries. It’s something that you didn’t know you wanted but you quickly realize is a good idea.

The Atmosphere/Service: The crowd appeared friendly overall with a hint of suspicion at the new faces we brought in. There was no problem finding a place to sit at a table (maybe at 15% of capacity on a Tuesday around 6). The bar, however, was full and you got the sense that these seats were rarely available during business hours. The random smattering of other patrons included a couple guys in suits working on some sort of business plan, a large group of people in the corner seemingly there to celebrate some sort of milestone, and a few small groups of people clearly there to enjoy good food and good company. Our server was attentive, friendly, and made sure we did not go thirsty.

The Food/Beverage: Upon arrival I put in an order for a refreshing beverage (happy hour prices are only on standard domestic beers but this includes GrainBelt/”Premo”) and a full plate of wings. Schullers puts any place charging more than $10 for 10-12 puny meatless bones covered in sauce to indisputable shame. WARNING: A full plate of wings is 3 lbs of sticky whole chicken wing deliciousness, prepare to be full. With three of us we were able to polish the plate clean but the prospect of trying to fit a meal into the outing was out of the question. As any self-respecting tavern should there was also a popcorn machine and a tap list that included a handful of local brews in addition to the standard domestic options.

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If you find yourself on highway 55 in golden valley in need of some cold refreshment, some sustenance, and a no nonsense environment, head on over Schullers. Just tell them Mancuisine.com sent you!

I recently found myself 1200 miles from home in Atlanta with a completely free evening and made it my quest to scope out the local brewery scene. As any 21st century person would I took to the web to assist in determining how to spend this serendipitous moment.

SweetWater

SweetWater Brewing Company continued to pop-up in searches, news articles, and reviews. This place has clearly brought craft brewing into the mainstream in the southeast and promotes itself as one of the highest production craft breweries in the country (according to the Brewers Association they were #18 in 2014 – Summit Brewing was #28 in comparison).

The brewery is located in an industrial park north of the midtown area of Atlanta. The “tours” run from 5:30 to 7:30 and the charge when I attended was $10 for a souvenir pint glass, tour, and 6 half glass pours of whatever beers they had on tap – This is how they get around not being able to sell their beer, they sell tours and serve you beer! While they do run their tours throughout the night, chatting with the crowd and servers I found that many people use the brewery as a gathering place to drink a decent amount of quality craft beer for a decent price without ever taking the opportunity to go back into the production area. Fortunately for me this meant that I was able to get my own private tour of the brewery!

Dank TankHaving visited a fair share of microbreweries I was awestruck by the shear scale of this place.  Upon entering, there are racks upon racks of barrels (whiskey, bourbon, gin, tequila) where all kinds of miraculous brews are waiting for just the right time to be tapped.  In the entry area I also came across the “dank tank“, which is basically the pilot vessel for the brewery with an interesting character immortalized on the front.  According to an employee this is an homage to the ambiguously gendered prostitute who would hang around the brewery’s old location and would occasionally complete odd jobs around the brewery for beer.

The rest of the tour covered the usual equipment.  In passing they were emptying one of the fermenters and the remnants from the dry hopping were drained all over the floor.  I have had many exposures to wonderful hop aromas from both home brewing and drinking various high IBU brews, but having pounds upon pounds of hop sediment drained right before you is definitely a sensory experience my olfactories will remember.

Now to the important part, the beers! Like many popular craft breweries, a majority of SweetWater’s beer offerings had higher IBUs (EPA, IPA, double IPA). One beer that I did not try that was popular with many at the brewery (predominantly female or self proclaimed “regular beer” haters) was a blueberry infused pale. Here are notes from what I was able to sample:

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Georgia Brown: Knowing the hop onslaught was coming I went for the brown first. Malty, slight biscuit and nut. Pretty decent brown and a good way to start the evening.

Hop Hash: A “hop hash” infused double IPA.  While I admit I was first apprehensive that the “hop hash” was just a gimmick I was a believer after trying this brew. Strong hop aroma (piney and subtle fruit) well balanced with the malt.

420: This is their flagship brew.  Being an EPA I went in knowing full well that Summit EPA is a standard at home and that the bar was high. Body was a bit lighter than the Summit, distinct hop difference.  Overall I would drink this again but not unique enough to be a “go to” instead of the Summit (if they actually distributed in MN).

IPA: At this point I will admit my palate was pretty blown and my senses were recently rocked by the dumping of hop sediment from a fermenter. Overall it was a solid IPA with a good amount of citrus and medium-light malt profile.

Final Recommendation: If you happen to be in an area where SweetWater distributes, pick some up, and if you find yourself in the Atlanta area, I highly recommend a visit to the brewery. You will not be disappointed!

 

With a tearful eye this GNO member reports that a fine Twin Cities dining establishment with one of the greatest burgers we have come across in our adventures will be closed for several months (if not longer).

The Nook in St. Paul had a fire last night that originated in the kitchen and burned through the bar area.  We can only hope that the rebuild is fast (and potentially adds some extra seating).

A moment of silence for the Nook and for the classic table top Ms. Pac-Man arcade machine that often doubled as a table extension…

http://minnesota.cbslocal.com/2010/12/14/overnight-fire-destroys-popular-st-paul-bar/

Land of fried foods and plenty of things to wave the stick at once you are done eating them. This post is a stomping grounds for the Man Cuisine Crew to share their likes and dislikes as far as fair food at this years “Great Minnesota Get-Together”. (more…)

The manager smiled as we walked in, perhaps knowing that a group like us would be sure to test the menu and generate a small economic recovery project for the town of Savage.  The setting was cabin lodge and the place looked to be recently remodeled. Families, couples, and small groups nearly filled the place and we had noticed in the past that the parking lot is often near full as we drive by.  Don’t let the slow new flash-enabled web site fool you, this is a down-home kinda place. Bathrooms were way beyond our expectations and experience. I believe the floor was even level! (more…)

During an extended evening walk from one end of San Fran to the other three of us were able to investigate the local color inside a few San Francisco neighborhoods. Brief details are in the boxes in the graphic below. Click to download the full map. If you are in town we’d recommend all of them, for different reasons.  Enjoy-

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AN ODD OUTING FOR THE GROUP-COLLEGE BARS ARE NOT REALLY OUR STYLE BUT THIS ONE CRIED OUT TO US FROM THE PAST. WHEN WE HEARD ABOUT THE REMARKABLE BEER LIST WE HAD TO GIVE IT A TRY.

SOME COMMENTS ON THE PLACE

THE PLACE WAS QUIET FOR A 7:30 MONDAY NIGHT BUT THE HELP WAS GREAT.  QUITE LIKELY THE ONLY PLACE WE HAVE BEEN WHERE THE WAITRESS REFERRED TO ONE OF THE BEERS (A SAISON) ON THE LIST AS TASTING LIKE PISS. ON HER RECOMMENDATION WE MADE ANOTHER CHOICE. A GREAT NIGHT OVERALL, THE TIME PASSED QUICKLY AND BEFORE WE NEW IT A BEAVY OF GREAT BURGERS HAD BEEN TOSSED DOWN ALONE WITH SOME OF THE BEST PALES AND HOPS WE’VE HAD. THE PLACE LACKED THE GREAT AMBIANCE OF THE BLUE DOOR BUT IT HAD A MUCH BETTER BREW LIST AND A BIT OF A BROADER MENU. (more…)

AFTER THE GREAT NIGHT AT THE NOOK IN ST. PAUL IT SEEMED ONLY RIGHT TO TRY ANOTHER PLACE IN THE SISTER CITY.  THE BLUE DOOR HAD RECENTLY OPENED AND IT WAS GETTING SOME PRESS.  TREVOR VISITED DURING  A SCOUTING MISSION AND HAD GOOD THINGS TO SAY.

SOME COMMENTS ON THE PLACE

VERY small.  but lively.  Trevor arrived just ahead of an ambulance- look for his story soon. The booth was good sized and the blackboard was was great to write on.  We left our rating on the wall.  Very busy but not frenetic, We never felt rushed even thought people were waiting. Good mix of ages with a bit of overrepresentation from the college crowd. Private schools nearby but no plaid in attendance.  We felt great  as we left, of course the four course beer meal may have had some influence (pitchers are available).   The group had better bladder control than usual, we’ll have to wait on the bathroom report from the guys who used it, although there was often a wait. (more…)