Friday, September 28, 2012

The 1st (partial) family bar crawl

There is something incredibly cool about being able to hang out with your parents and family while enjoying a beer and many laughs. Until late last month, at least for my family, that typically happened at my folks place in Minnesota. 

In late August, we (we = my parents + brother + fiance and I) decided it would be cool to go and visit a few bars and a brewpub around Minneapolis and St. Paul that we had read and heard good things about but had not visited (or at least not visited in some time). Our trip/'crawl' took the better part of the late afternoon and evening of the Saturday we were in Minnesota. We would have visited more places but the fatigue of our designated driver forced us to return home around midnight.

The night began with dinner at the Happy Gnome. It was my first visit to this true beer geek destination, and I was not disappointed. For an appetizer we shared duck confit bruschetta served with peaches, fig, goat cheese, and watercress. For the main course my Mom had the game hen, my Dad had scallops, my brother had the game burger and my fiance and I had the duck burger. For our first round of beer, my Mom had water (my Mom = self-appointed designated driver), my Dad had the Deschutes black butte porter, my brother had the Porterhouse oyster stout, my fiance had the Lift Bridge Farm Girl Saison and I had the Brau Brothers Báncreagie . All were quite enjoyable and paired well with our meals. Before departing, because they had it on draft, I ordered a glass of the Black Butte XXIV. It was something I had never had before (I have had the XXIII but not the XXIV before that evening), and I thought my family would like it. We all enjoyed it... A lot. 

Next, we made our way to the Town Hall Brewery. It is a place that is dangerously close to the U of Minnesota, Minneapolis west bank campus. Town Hall Brewery is in a beautiful old bar that is made with dark wood, lit by gentle lighting, and an obvious dedication to the history of the space itself. While at Town Hall, we enjoyed the following:

  • Masala Mama IPA - Enjoyed by my brother and I
    • Great tropical fruit aroma. The contribution of the hops were not overpowering but very pleasant
  • Black H2O oatmeal - enjoyed by my Dad
    • A beer with a great roast and chocolate taste that came together very well in a beer that was very smooth in texture
  • Hefeweizen - my first beer
    • A great example of the style. If I lived closer, this would be my go-to-beer
  • Grand Cru - my second beer
    • I have not had many Grand Crus in my day but I did enjoy this one
  • 1800 IPA on cask - my brother
    • An IPA that I enjoyed as much as the Masala Mama. The hops were not the tropical sort. Rather they were of the piney sort
  • A beer infused with raspberries - my fiance. I forget the base beer for this one
    • Quite enjoyable. I hold it up there with Cerise (a fruit beer I really enjoy)

Town Hall's beer lived up to its reputation - it was great. Not a dud in the bunch. I am already looking forward to my next visit when I am in MN again. My lone regret is that I did not visit more often while I was an undergrad at the U of MN (GO GOPHERS!!). In a future post I will share an interview with Town Hall Brewery's head brewer Mike Hoops. Mike is a great guy whose brewing experience/history is intertwined with another one of Minnesota's brewing institutions - Fitgers Brewhouse. More on that in the interview that will be posted at a later date.

Once we finished our beer at Town Hall, we made our way across the bridge to the Acadia Cafe.

The Acadia Cafe is a place that I had not visited before the evening of the crawl. Their 4th anniversary was celebrated earlier this year (which is a relief 'cause I was fearful I had missed another great beer bar  that was open during my college days), and the place looked great. They had plenty of beer on tap (27 on at the time of our visit) and a cask as well. In addition to the great beer selection, Acadia also offers hot and cold sandwiches, burgers, soups, salads, and other appetizers. While we were there, we enjoyed a few beers (see the list below) and the music of a jazz (?) band that held residence the evening of our visit.

The Acadia Cafe is also where the evening really took off  - the laughs increased in number and frequency and we all shared a few of our talents (examples - I appreciate a woman than can burp well and my brother can go from friendly and approachable to 'demon eyed monster' faster than anyone I know)..In short, our time at Acadia was my favorite part of the evening. To take it a step further, and I apologize if this comes across as bragging but if Norman Rockwell was to paint a picture of the ideal family situation, our time at the Acadia would have provided that scene.

At the Acadia Cafe my family and I enjoyed the following beers:

After the Acadia Cafe, which had a very cocky (but true) statement above their door that I did not notice when we first went in (see photo below) we went to the Republic which had a great happy hour (every beer made in America that is normally priced at $6 were $3 from 10p to 12p. 

Here we enjoyed the following beer:
Much like the beer enjoyed at the prior stops, the beer we had at the Republic was great as well. I really enjoyed my beer for a few reasons - It was by a brewery that I had only read about prior to the evening of the crawl. In addition, the beer itself was sweet but firm and the hop presence was pleasantly piney.

The best thing about this crawl is that we did not scratch the surface of good bars and beer available in my home state (all the more reason to go on another crawl). There are breweries and brewpubs opening all the time (examples = Pour Decisions Brewing Company and Indeed Brewing Company). The great thing about this is that they are all making good beer. Granted I have not tried them all but I trust that the brewers are capable and that they will all find their audience/fan base. So, the next time you are traveling through Minnesota, be sure to pick up a Minnesota made beer. You will not be disappointed.

**NOTE** - A great deal of credit goes to @13Mikey for providing great advice and suggestions for what places to visit during this pub crawl. Thanks again Mike!


Dank brewer said...

Acadia is the bomb!

Sounds like a fun time!

Ethan said...

It was a great time! My lone regret is that we did not make it to a few more places, but I think we got to a few great spots.