Lupulin Brewing Company

September 26, 2019

I’ve written about craft beer for four years. That’s about as long as I’ve been drinking it. I don’t remember a lot of beers from the first couple of years. My palate wasn’t developed, most beers tasted similar, and I had a hard time differentiating good beer from bad. One of the pursuits we attempted in those early days was to complete the Northern Ale Guide. When there is a t-shirt at stake, I’ll do anything. I recall bouncing around the state on a cold December weekend trying to get the last few stamps in the book. There was one brewery that we visited that didn’t make much of an impression. This summer I wanted to see how my tastes have changed after four years in the hobby. On a drizzly summer afternoon I pulled into the parking lot of Lupulin Brewing Company to see what I had missed.

Continue Reading…

Ashby Brewing Company

September 23, 2019

There is something intriguing about a small town brewery. It summons the past, a time when breweries dotted the country. When locals would gather in the park after Sunday mass and enjoy a refreshing mug of the area’s lager with friends and family. When I hear that a brewery has opened in a town with a population of less than 500, I can’t help myself. It’s even more appealing when they are only open for a handful of hours a week. Ashby Brewing Company is the latest nano-brewery to provoke a visit.

Continue Reading…

Brickfield Brewing

September 21, 2019

It’s a long drive to my sister’s cabin in Hayward. Our usual strategy is to break up the drive by visiting the Drive In in Taylor’s Falls. It’s nearly halfway but, more importantly, they have cheese curds. My sister says they stop at the location in Grantsburg on their way home. In August we put the town on our agenda. No food for us though, our trip was for craft beer at Brickfield Brewing.

Continue Reading…

Birch’s on the Lake

September 17, 2019

I’m too young to understand the “supper club.” A concept interwoven into the fabric of the Midwest, these establishments have long sought their place in the modern era. By the time I was old enough to remember, these previously revered restaurants had become an odd blend of classy and kitsch. A vestige of the past. The craft beer industry is suited to blending the old and the new. Enter Birch’s on the Lake.

Continue Reading…

Alluvial Brewing Company

August 31, 2019

One of my criteria for a great brewery is the taproom. Of course, the beer matters. Yet the taproom can make or break the experience. I begin by trawling any “best of” lists that I can find, collecting the breweries that appear multiple times and any others that jump out at me. Then I dig deeper. I dive into the pessimism of reddit, ask for recommendations from Instagram influencers, browse individual websites, and search through local tourism info. Once I have list of breweries – usually far too long for my needs – I search for them on Google Maps. Location is a factor, but the primary reason is to view photos. Google organizes these, and Vibe is my jam. While searching for Iowa breweries, there was one that cropped up that intrigued me but had few photos of the interior. My visit to Alluvial Brewing Company would now have purpose.

Continue Reading…

Peace Tree Brewing Co. – Des Moines Branch

August 28, 2019

“Why won’t this thing take a good photo?” I asked my wife. I was trying to take a photograph of my flight board. “Everything is washed out, what’s going on?” I asked the universe. At this point I noticed a strange icon in my viewfinder. A quick Google search later and I hung my head, crestfallen. Deep in the menu there was a setting to lock the ISO, and ours was set to the max. ISO controls the sensitivity of the sensor, the higher the number the brighter the photo. The trade off is noise. “How long has this been on?” I wondered. It was difficult to tell looking at the camera screen, and I had to inspect each photo’s settings before confirming my greatest fear. Not a single photo from our last three breweries was usable. I fixed it for Peace Tree Brewing Co.

Continue Reading…

White Elm Brewing Company

August 22, 2019

Nothing against Nebraska, but the drive across the state isn’t the most visually interesting. Knowing the mountains are at your back makes the plains stretch on endlessly. It’s no wonder they built The Archway. It’s a beautiful building that appears I’m sure has lovely exhibits, but it’s a tourist trap if I’ve ever seen one. “If we want to enjoy our time at White Elm, we can’t go inside” I said, as we watched our daughter burn energy crawling around the gift shop. She sighed, grabbing her from the floor. “Can we at least get her photo in front of the giant bison?”

Continue Reading…

WeldWerks Brewing

August 16, 2019

There was a brewery that consistently appeared in my search for “top breweries in Colorado.” They’ve won awards, host an invitational beer festival, and keep a tap list stocked with innovative beers (over 100 in 2018). Location was the only issue. Our aggressive itinerary had us arrive in downtown Greeley during sunset. The destination: WeldWerks Brewing.

Continue Reading…

Jessup Farm Barrel House

August 14, 2019

“Do you think we’ll have enough time?” my wife asked. We were standing at an overlook within Rocky Mountain National Park. Ahead of us the Trail Ridge Road was closed for the season. “If we leave now and we don’t stop, I think we can make it work.” I said. Our plan was to visit two breweries that afternoon. “I’m glad the fog lifted, this was worth the drive.” I said. A thick fog had covered the valley on the drive up to our summit. It had just cleared, giving us an incredible view of the valley below. “Who’s driving?” I asked. “You,” my wife responded. Jessup Farm Barrel House was waiting.

Continue Reading…

Bierstadt Lagerhaus

August 11, 2019

The plan was to drive through Denver on our way back to Minnesota from Moab. These days, researching our destinations includes a heavy craft beer component. With over 400 breweries in the state and 100 in the Denver area, it wasn’t easy to narrow the list down. We were spending the night at my friend’s home and the plan was to meet him at a brewery beforehand. After comparing notes with him it seemed the best use of our time would be to visit the RiNo neighborhood. Due to the density of breweries in the area we would have a lot of options. Though one place sounded particularly intriguing: Bierstadt Lagerhaus.

Continue Reading…