Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Minnesota Craft Beer Week 2014 - Day 3 (A personal account)

Day 3 started out on a rather low key note: Me and my fiance had woken up a little later than usual after sleeping in a bit longer than we would have liked and ended up just making it to make the payment for our wedding venue. After our appointment, we were presented with an interesting conundrum. It was too late in the day for breakfast food, but not early enough to start lunch.

Looking at our itinerary for the day, we noticed that The Herkimer Pub & Brewery had a breakfast menu, so I opted to have lunch there while my fiance decided to wait until after we were done there to go to lunch. So with our decision made and we made our way over to The Herkimer.

When we arrived, I was presented with a very interesting question: Do I want beer with my breakfast? It had been something which I had never done before. After scanning the tap selection, I decided to get their lightest beer available: Jeffery Kream Ale along with a platter of pancakes. It's about as close as one can get to having a true "Breakfast of Champions."

Jeffrey Kream Ale - Wow, this has got to be one of the creamiest beers I've ever had! I'm tempted to say that I had this on nitro but even if I didn't, it's still an incredibly smooth beer! It's got a relatively simply flavor, consisting mainly of pale malts, flaked corn and barley and tastes pretty similar to Spotted Cow. However the overall texture and body is just so creamy and easy on the palate that I say that alone is worth checking this beer out. And yes, it went very well with the pancakes.

After I finished up breakfast, me and the future Mrs. Nick's Beer Blog headed to lunch at Buffalo Wild Wings. While we were there, we debated amongst ourselves where we would go next amongst the denizens of lunch hour patrons eyeballing the upcoming NFL Draft.

During our conversation we plotted our next course of action when "Hudson, Wisconsin" came up in our conversation. It was at this point that we came to a sobering realization: Decisions had to be made. Do we stay in Minnesota and check out some of the other various breweries around the Twin Cities area? Or do we break our vow of drinking nothing but Minnesota-based beer, commit the ultimate act of betrayal, make the journey across St. Croix River and sample some Wisconsin beers DURING Minnesota Craft Beer Week?

We thought long and hard while the Twins struggled to keep up with the Cleveland Indians before we decided that we would make the 15 minute drive from Maplewood to Hudson. However, Mother Nature was a bit tempermental that afternoon and proceeded to give us a whooping of the thunderstorm. Our 15 minute leisurely cruise turned into a 30 minute game of "Don't hit the poor soul who decided to ride his motorcycle during a severe storm."

Before we decided which brewery to visit, I paid a visit to Casanova Liquor which has become a favorite destination of mine when passing through Wisconsin. It's a great place to visit for those beers that aren't available in Minnesota or pretty much anywhere in the Midwest.

After I was finished, I made the choice to visit Pitchfork Brewing, going off of the recommendation of a friend of mine to try out their Maple Maibock.

Picture courtesy of Ratebeer

As you can see in the photo above, it doesn't look like much, just a sign that says "Pitchfork Brewing." The interesting thing about this place is that it's located in a strip mall, which is probably the last place where you'd expect to find a brewery. In fact the strip mall itself is pretty new but it's surrounded by a grassy field and the road leading up to building is a dirt road. I was wondering if I had gotten lost but my trusty GPS assured me I was going in the right direction and sure enough we arrived safe and sound.

Once we did arrive, we were treated to a very roomy taproom. Mike Fredricksen, who I believe is the brewmaster there, was manning the taps that day. I'll throw this out there right now that Mike was an incredibly awesome guy to talk to! He talked about experience in brewing and how each beer is made with care. That alone made it worth the journey to the brewery.

For this trip, I decided to start out with a flight as you will see in the photo above. I figured that since I was there, I might as well try a few of their offerings. So we grabbed some popcorn, pulled up a stoll and sampled some beers.

Pitchfork Porch Swing German Alt - An Altbier style ale. The flavor consisted mainly of offee, pils malts, a hop/spicy bitterness with a sweet malty finish. It was also a fairly smooth beer in terms of drinkability and texture.

Pitchfork Munich Dunkel - Very Clove & Banana flavor forward flavor with a strong caramel malty backbone. Like the Porch Swing, this was also a very smooth beer to drink!

Pitchfork Barndoor Brown Ale - Very strong chocolate malt character, but the light hoppiness & roasted barley flavors really helped even things out overall.

Pitchfork Outwitted - A Witbier style beer. Strong malted wheat notes with some fruity sweetness & light floral hoppiness. The texture is also very light, creamy, and very easy to drink!

Pitchfork Pale Ale - An APA style beer. Fairly potent citrus hop flavors mixed in with notes of rum raisin and maltiness. Very tasty beer to drink.

Pitchfork Maple Maibock (Not Pictured) - The beer which drew me to Pitchfork in the first place. Nice maltiness and a robust maple profile. Much like Tommyknocker Legend, this is an example of maple being used correctly in a beer. This is a good beer that pairs wonderfully with a raging spring severe thunderstorm.

All and all, I had a great time at Pitchfork Brewing. Anyone who is passing through the area and has even a slight interest in craft beer should check this place out!

After we were done, we made our way back to Minnesota through the pouring rain and back to my fiancé's place where we feasted on Carbone's Pizza and Surly Hell for dinner. Despite the severe weather, it was a good day!

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