Thursday, May 8, 2014

Minnesota Craft Beer Week 2014 - Day 1 (A personal account)

A couple of months ago, I requested this week off as a means for a little vacation. So yesterday I headed out from Duluth to make my journey down to the Twin Cities. Since I moved up to Duluth last July, I feel like a lot has changed in terms of the craft beer down in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area just based on what I have been reading and sure enough, there has been quite a bit of growth and selection expansion since I was last here.

On my way in to town, I swung by Elevated Beer, Wine & Spirits to stop by to say "Hi" to some of the people who worked there and to grab a couple of bombers from Bent Brewstillery. Prior to me moving to Duluth, this would be the place I'd go to grab my beer mainly because of the selection, service and atmosphere. Also, they have a pretty good radio show on the local ESPN affiliate that is worth listening to if you get the chance. It was also very nice to see both Blacklist Brewing and Bent Paddle Brewing represented quite well on the shelves, which to me is a testament to the rapidly expanding craft beer scene right up I-35 in the Duluth-Superior-North Shore Area.

After picking up my fiance and having some lunch over at Parkway Pizza, we headed over to Dangerous Man Brewing Company. I had been hearing quite a bit about Dangerous Man, namely with everyone giving very high praises to their Chocolate Milk Stout. Alas, we do not get them in Duluth because the only way to get Dangerous Man is by going to the actual taproom.

We arrived about 10 minutes after they opened up and it was already pretty busy but we managed to grab a couple of seats at the bar. I will say one thing about the atmosphere: it perfectly captures the spirit of Northeast Minneapolis; From the music playlist featuring local music artists to the overall artwork/architecture of the room. Since I didn't happen to have my laptop with me, I just have tasting notes. So be prepared, these aren't going to be full on reviews but you get the general idea.

Dangerous Man Chocolate Milk Stout - I wanted to get right to the beer which Dangerous Man is most well known for which is their Chocolate Milk Stout. I'm glad to say that this is one of those beers that live up to the hype which I have been seeing. It's got a very creamy and smooth palate with some strong chocolate & lactose notes followed by roasted barley and coffee. The aftertaste is also pretty sweet & chocolatey with only some minor roastiness. I can definitely see why people flock back to the taproom time and time again to have this beer.

Dangerous Man Cara Cara Wit - I decided to switch it up a bit afterwards and go for something a bit lighter. Witbiers are typically hit and miss for me but I found this beer to be quite very enjoyable. It's a fairly light bodied beer but it's got that distinct berry and lemon zest tart-sweetness that blended quite well with the malted wheat profile.

Dangerous Man Session Hefe - For my last beer, I went with something a bit more sessionable so I decided why not get into the spirit of spring with a Hefeweizen. Like the Cara Cara, it had a fairly prominent but not quite as strong malted wheat profile. It also had a distinct grape-like fruitness to the overall flavor. Still, I thought it was pretty good, even by session-ale standards

After finishing up at Dangerous Man, I met up with a couple of friends over at Northbound Smokehouse over in South Minneapolis, where we watched the Minnesota Wild bring the pain to the Blackhawks. While I was there I helped myself to the Light Rail Pale Ale, which I've already done a review on. However that night they were releasing their Buckwheat Honey Porter as part of Minnesota Craft Beer Week. Intrigued I decided to give it a go...

Northbound Smokehouse Buckwheat Honey Porter - Fairly typical roasted barley/chocolate profile which can be found in a porter. With that said, the honey used in making this beer helps offset that roastiness to give it a sweeter and approachable flavor. My fiance, who is not typically into dark beers, actually enjoyed this quite a bit which is saying something right there.

All and all, it was a great first day to try out good local beer. I'll have more posts coming this way so sta tuned.


- Nick

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