Flying Dog Raging Bitch

May 31st, 2010 beckel

For a long time I have been an avid supporter of Flying Dog, their beers and their marketing. So upon hearing about their 20th Anniversary brew I knew I would eventually have to get some. The politely named Raging Bitch is a Belgian-Style India Pale Ale that I am sure will be a treat as  their first batch of this brew didn’t even make it to Minnesota. I grabbed my 6-pack at Chicago Lake for a reasonable price so this ale should be widely available. Pours an attractive rich copper hue that is very translucent, producing close to four fingers of bright white head.  With a small amount of lacing and a few millimeters of bubbles remain after settling. Smells of bright citrus hops, orange and grapefruit in particular, with wonderful earthy hop esters melding with earthy and spicy  yeast notes. Flavor is delightfully hoppy with lemon, grapefruit & gentle orange esters that play with clean earthy hop flavors which are smoothed brilliantly by the Belgian yeast used in this brew. Gentle earthy, spice & fruit esters come from the yeast and produce a lovely play with the serious hop content and notable bitterness. The yeast contributes a lot to a delightfully clean, smooth and slightly creamy mouthfeel accentuating its solid medium body. At 8.3% ABV and 60 IBU this beer is far too delicious and easy to drink. It should obviously be treated as more of a sipper but I could easily drink pints of this all day in the sun. I am very pleased Flying Dog decided to release this anniversary brew in 6-packs at a reasonable cost and I hope they continue to produce it for years to come. Truly a fantastic brew and an amazingly impressive melding of two styles that can be enjoyed by most people. If you enjoy IPAs and Belgian Style brews this happens to be close to the best of both worlds. Perfect for paring with spicy or acidic food. Give it a shot and ride your bike.

Flying Dog Raging Bitch Belgian Style IPA

Sierra Nevada Estate Ale 2009

May 19th, 2010 beckel

As this beer has sat in my fridge for far too long I suppose it’s damn time I consume it. A large variety of beers are fine to age but for many lower alcohol beers and particularly hoppy beers it is not the best approach. Sierra Nevada is already releasing their Estate 2010 as I write this post so I am sure this bottle will not have nearly as brilliant hop characters as it likely had initially. Oh well, it’s my fault for procrastinating. This exciting brew is the first release of Sierra Nevada’s Estate Ale, part of their Harvest Series. Consisting of only hops and barley grown on Sierra Nevada’s own estate in Chico, CA. Pours a very translucent bright amber hue that quickly creates over three fingers of off white head that leave a decent amount of lacing after settling a few minutes later. Smells nicely of grassy hops which play nicely with sweet malt and modest citrus esters. Tastes of rich, smooth, sweet malts, a decent amount of citrus, lemon, orange, grapefruit, modest bitterness and some gentle grassy & earthy esters. Body is medium and mouthfeel is wonderfully smooth and tight. The beautiful mouthfeel likely has something to do with the age of this brew. I am quite impressed by the delightful melding of hops and  malts present in this brew and equally impressed by the robustness of the hop esters still present after roughly a year of aging. Overall enjoyable bitterness is complimented with rich malts and delightful hop notes creating a very well rounded ale.  When I first saw this 24 oz bottle on the shelves of The Four Firkins I was amazed by its price tag of around $13 if memory serves me correctly and almost didn’t end up purchasing it. After consuming it I’m glad I did because I believe it will be appreciated by any fan of IPAs or Pale Ales. At 6.7% ABV this is one drinkable but very flavorful Ale. If this years edition of Estate Ale is anywhere near as well balanced I would highly recommend picking up a bottle, I probably will. While it is always fun to be surprised by an aging experiment I wouldn’t highly recommend aging (m)any India Pale Ales. If you can find an old bottle give it a shot and ride your bike.

Sierra Nevada Estate Ale 2009

Dogfish Head Fort

May 13th, 2010 beckel

Today I have what is sure to be a remarkable beer from Dogfish Head and another fantastic Score from Dark Lord Day. Luckily this bottle is a 2008 vintage because I am certainly not patient enough to give this brew anymore time to age, though I’m sure it would treat it marvelously. A Belgian inspired base beer was blended with over a ton of pureed raspberries to create this intense 18% ABV brew which claims the title of worlds strongest fruit beer. Pours an interesting hue somewhere between a tangerine and a raspberry. Two fingers of off white head form and settle within a few seconds. Aroma consists of a good deal of alcohol, similar to brandy, hints of raspberry, gentle tartness and a hint of sweetness. Flavor is full of strong alcohol esters that largely dominate the beer followed by enjoyable sweet and tart contrasting notes of raspberry and modest bitterness. Aside from being incredibly boozy the flavor profile of this brew is really quite enjoyable. As you get your palate accustomed to the massive alcohol you can start to enjoy the whiskey like esters and the way they play with the varying fruit esters including raspberry, cranberry and a variety of citrus’. While I can’t really pick out the Warrior hops used in this beer a solid IBU of 45 is noticed in the finish creating an enjoyably bitterness. Mouthfeel is surprisingly smooth for such as strong ale and the body is equally light for the style though near the medium side. Overall an enjoyable brew provided you can handle the alcohol and be patient. Those who enjoy very strong ales and fruit will find their dreams met here. If you want to keep your throat warm and enjoy complex fruit esters this is probably the beer for you. I would love to see what this beer has to offer after a decade of aging. Give it a shot and ride your bike.

Dogfish Head Fort

Stone Double Bastard Ale

May 12th, 2010 beckel

As the wonderful Stone Brewing does not distribute to my fine state of Minnesota yet I was lucky enough to get this brew from a lovely acquaintance my friends from The Beer Genome Project introduced me to on our Dark Lord Day trip named Sarah. While not an unobtainable brew by any means I am always happy to consume anything from Stone and as a massive fan of their Arrogant Bastard Ale I have wanted to try this brew for some time. As usual this cleanly illustrated, gargoyle laden, 22oz bottle (2009 Release) has a delightful paragraph on the back that proceeds to thoroughly insult those unworthy who dare attempt consuming this fine beverage. Onto the important things. Pours a deep dark mahogany hue that is relatively translucent, though you will only notice if you hold it up to the light as it is quite dark. Two fingers of full off white head blossoms from the brew and lasts for a few minutes reducing to about a millimeter around the surface of the beer and leaving a small amount of lacing. Aromas of dark sweet malts, caramel, and soft plum are present reminding me of a rich Barleywine. Surprisingly gentle hop notes, likely due to age as this beer is roughly 6 months old. Strong flavors of molasses, plum, alcohol, toasted malt and a solid hop bitterness as well as gentle notes of citrus, pine contrast with sweet malts giving this bitter ale a surprising level of synchronicity. Body is on the heavy side and the mouthfeel is full but enjoyably clean. With a 10.5% ABV this arrogant ale is certainly no joke, particularly if you are consuming the bottle on your own. Definitely a solid ale that reminds me of a bitter barleywine with a bit of extra hop flavor. I am now very curious to see how different the hop presence is in this brew when it is first bottled. If you enjoy Strong Ales or Barleywines and aren’t opposed to bitterness this should be right up your alley, provided your worthy. Give it a shot and ride your bike.

Stone Double Bastard Ale

Arrogant Note: When looking up information related to this brew I discovered that a company called Carlsbad Gourmet makes a line of Stone endorsed seasonings based off a number of their brews including hot sauces that reflect the entire Arrogant Bastard line. I know I’m late to the game but all i can say is fuck yea! I need to get these. All of them. Soon.

New Belgium Eric’s Ale

May 11th, 2010 beckel

Though this ale only showed up on our local shelves recently it was apparently the third release of New Belgium’s Lips Of Faith Series. This ale was the handy work of it’s namesake Eric Salazar who decided to play with their Belgian Style Blond Ale; aging it in Oak, adding peach juice & Brettanomyces yeast to create a unique sour ale. I was happy to find this bottle at The Four Firkins but it should be pretty widely available right now. Pours a completely translucent light copper hue that borders on peach with three fingers of clean white head that settles within less than a minute. Small bubbles continuously trickle from the bottom of the glass popping on the surface. Clean assertive tartness followed by gentle peach esters, very light malts and just a touch of alcohol. Smooth but potent sour esters remind me of cranberry & tangerine tannins and contrast with sweet peach, gentle malt esters, light bitterness and very subtle alcohol. Bright sour notes are very enjoyable and play very well with the sweet peach and smooth mouthfeel created by the oak aging. The 7% ABV of this beer is occasionally noticed but overall an after thought in this delicious brew. Body is on the light side of medium making this complex brew go down very easily. If you enjoy clean, full flavored sour ales this one is definitely worth your time. Additionally if you are new to the style this one isn’t a bad stepping stone as the fruit characteristics and oak aging make this ale very palatable for a tart brew. I would happily drink many more bottles of this brew, and might just have to. Give it  a shot and ride your bike.

New Belgium Eric's Ale

Charatible Bike Rides & Some Fun Beer Posts

May 11th, 2010 beckel

Tiz the season for bike riding and as June approaches it is the time for me to heckle people for money, for a good cause of course. I don’t tend to enjoy asking people for money but these two charities are certainly worth your investment. Every year I participate in the Tour de Cure for the American Diabetes Association and the MS150 for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. The Tour de Cure locally is a 62 mile ride around the Twin Cities and nationally raised almost $17 Million last year to prevent and cure diabetes and to improve the lives of all people affected by diabetes. The MS150 is a two day, 150 mile ride from Proctor to White Bear Lake, Minnesota that has a goal of raising $2 Million locally this year to help cure Multiple Sclerosis and help support those suffering from MS. Both are wonderful rides that are very well supported with local variants in many cities. If you are interested in cycling and have a passion for any of these causes I would highly recommend you see what they are doing in your community as not only will you be able to help others but also have a lot of fun yourself. If you are able I would greatly appreciate of your support in our fund raising efforts. To donate to my team(s) please check my Donations page and follow the links there. Many thanks!

Back to the beer. Here are a few recent local posts that I have enjoyed. First from the Heavy Table and local author of  Land of Amber Waters; Doug Hoverson’s Let’s grab a beer chart. A handy and humorous guide to help you get what you really want to drink in times of distress.

Full Size Here

Less humorous but equally interesting was this recent post from Twin Cities Buisness Magazine complete with various statistics including barrel production and number of employees from almost all of the local breweries and brewpubs in Minnesota; in fact even some I didn’t realize existed. See the link above for original posting. I have copied the post in it’s entirety below in case they decide to break the link.

Ranked by barrels produced in Minnesota | List information taken from the 2009-2010 Business Information Guide
Source: Company representatives and Web sites. If you were not contacted for this list but would like to be in the future, please contact
*See note at bottom of list.



Barrels produced in Minnesota in 2008

Top local executive

Employees in
MN / worldwide

Most popular products


Cold Spring Brewing Company

219 North Red River Avenue
Cold Spring, MN 56320
320-685-8686 |


Maurice Bryan

160 / 211

Stite, Gluek, Northern, Cold Spring Crafts, Hard Lemonade


August Schell Brewing Company

1860 Schell Road
New Ulm, MN 56073
507-354-5528 |


Ted Marti

46 / 46

Grain Belt Premium, Grain Belt Premium Light, Schell’s Firebrick, Schell’s Octoberfest, Schell’s Dark


Summit Brewing Company

910 Montreal Circle
St. Paul, MN 55102
651-265-7800 |


Mark Stutrud

49 / Not provided

Summit Extra Pale Ale, Summit Pilsener, Summit Winter Ale, Summit Maibock, Summit Oktoberfest


Surly Brewing Company

4811 Dusharme Drive
Brooklyn Center, MN 55429
763-535-3330 |


Omar Ansari

8 / 8

Furious, Bender, Cynic


Finnegans, Inc.

619 South 10th Street
Minneapolis, MN 55404
612-501-7707 |


Jacquie Berglund

1 / Not provided

Finnegans Irish Amber


Granite City Food & Brewery, Ltd.

5402 Parkdale Drive, Suite 101
St. Louis Park, MN 55416
952-215-0660 |


Steven Wagenheim

575 / 2,956

Northern Light Lager, Brother Benedicts Bock, Duke of Wellington IPA, Oktoberfest, Belgian Wit


Blue Diamond Brewing Company

25 Dale Street North, Suite 112
St. Paul, MN 55102
651-221-0899 |


Frank Yarusso

1 / 5

Brewer’s Cave Golden Caramel Lager, Blue Diamond Lager, Blue Diamond Light, Riverside Light (private label)


Fitger’s Brewhouse

600 East Superior Street
Duluth, MN 55802
218-726-1392 |


Tim Nelson

130 / 130

Starfire Pale Ale, Lighthouse Golden Ale, Park Point Pilsner, Witch Tree Extra Special Bitter, Big Boat Oatmeal Stout, Apricot Wheat


Lake Superior Brewing Company, LLC

2711 West Superior Street
Duluth, MN 55806
218-723-4000 |


Don Hoag

2 / 2

Special Ale, Oatmeal Stout


Brau Brothers Brewing Company

201 First Street
Lucan, MN 56255
507-747-2337 |


Dustin Brau

12 / 12

Scotch Ale, Strawberry Wheat, Cream Stout, Sheep Head Ale, Ring Neck Braun Ale


Rock Bottom Restaurant & Brewery

800 LaSalle Plaza
Minneapolis, MN 55402
612-332-2739 |


Jim Gose

60 / 2,000

North Star Lager, Erik the Red, Stillwater Stout, Itasca Extra Pale Ale, Big Horn Nut Brown Ale, Hop Bomb IPA, Angry Hippie Ale, El Jefe Hefeweizen, Saison, Belgian Tripel Bock, Fallen Angel Abby Ale, Black Bull Imperial Stout


Minneapolis Town Hall Brewery

1430 Washington Avenue South
Minneapolis, MN 55454
612-339-8696 |


Pete Rifakes

35 / 35

Masala Mama IPA


Flat Earth Brewing Company

2035 Benson Avenue
St. Paul, MN 55116
651-698-1945 |


Cathie Williamson

2 / 2

Belgian Pale Ale, Element 115 Lager, Cygnus X-1 Porter, Black Helicopter Coffee Stout, Northwest Passage IPA


Great Waters Brewing Company

426 St. Peter Street
St. Paul, MN 55102
651-224-2739 |


Sean O’Byrne

54 / 54

Not provided


McCann’s Food and Brew

3320 Third Street North
St. Cloud, MN 56303
320-217-5800 |


Nick McCann

30 / 30

McCann’s Golden Ale, High Bank Amber, Deep Seven IPA, Triple Trouble, Apricot Coriander, Prairie Porter


Barley John’s Brew Pub

781 Old Highway 8 Southwest
New Brighton, MN 55112
651-636-4670 |


John Moore

15 / 15

Little Barley Bitter, Stockyard IPA, Wild Brunette, Old Eight Porter


Wellington’s Backwater Brewing Company

1429 Service Drive
Winona, MN 55987
507-452-2103 |


Chris Gardner

18 / 18

Wheat, Pale Ale, Nut Brown


Lift Bridge Beer Company

1906 Greeley Street South
Stillwater, MN 55082
888-430-2337 |


Dan Schwarz

4 / 4

Farm Girl Saison, Lift Bridge Pale Ale, Harvestor, Biscotti, Kimono Girl


Boathouse Brewpub & Restaurant

47 East Sheridan Street
Ely, MN 55731
218-365-4301 |


Mark Bruzek

30 / 30

Entry Point Golden Ale, Rye Fish At All Pale Ale, Eel Pout Oatmeal Stout, Wild Rice ESB


Vine Park Brewing Company

1254 West Seventh Street
St. Paul, MN 55102
651-228-1355 |


Andy Grage

5 / 5

Loose Moose Lager, Red Hyena Ale, Walnut Brown Ale


All American Grill & Brewhouse

101 Summerfield Drive
Waverly, MN 55340
763-658-4040 |


Steve LaPlant

67 / 67

Golden Ugly, Ugly Red


Mantorville Brewing Company, LLC

101 East Fifth Street
Mantorville, MN 55955
651-387-0708 |


Tod Fyten, II

1 / 1

Stagecoach Amber Ale, Stagecoach Golden Ale, Stagecoach Smoked Porter


St. Croix Brewing Company, LLC

363 Webster Street
St. Paul, MN 55102
651-387-0708 |


Tod Fyten, II

1 / 1

St. Croix Cream Ale, St. Croix Cream Stout, St. Croix Maple Ale, Serrano Pepper Ale

Note: Chatterbox Pub, The Herkimer Pub & Brewery, and Pig’s Eye Brewing Company, LLC, do not appear on this list because they would not provide ranking criteria. Crispin Cider Company and McCoy’s Public House do not appear because all products are brewed in another state.
• Finnegans, Inc., is a contract brewer that gives all profits to local charities.
• Blue Diamond Brewing Company and Lift Bridge Beer Company’s products are contract brewed.
• Vine Park Brewing Company operates exclusively as a brewery in which customers create their own beer on the premises.

The Session #39 Sierra Nevada Fritz and Ken’s Ale

May 7th, 2010 beckel

The SessionToday I have what is sure to be a fun brew, and seemingly the last new beer to involve Fritz Maytag before the sale of his landmark brewery Anchor Brewing (more about that here). I haven’t participated in The Session for quite some time but after looking at this weeks I realized I have the perfect brew for this months topic: Collaborations. I love collaborative brews for many reasons. In fact I think they are an example of the life blood of the Craft Beer industry. With out cooperation, sharing and support of one another many Craft Breweries would not be where they are today. Not only is it more fun to work with others when brewing but there is also a ton to learn from one another. From techniques to preferences not to mention local traditions and ideas. In honor of collaboration I will be consuming Sierra Nevada’s 30th Anniversary brew which is a collaboration between their brewer Ken Grossman and Anchor Brewing’s Fritz Maytag. I bought this bottle of  Fritz & Ken at The Four Firkins, another at Chicago Lake Liquors and even saw a few still on the shelves of Princeton’s Liquors when I was there earlier today. According to the bottle they decided to brew this Imperial Stout in honor of the Dark Ales and Stouts that seduced them in their early years. Lets see how it goes. Gently poured from a cleanly labeled, caged and corked 750ml bottle over four fingers of creamy tight chocolate colored head are quickly produced. Bubbles slowly open up and even more slowly dissipate. I poured my glass more than five minutes ago and there is still half a finger of reasonably tight head that has yet to settle. A good deal of lacing is present and likely won’t be going anywhere soon. Color is a very opaque dark black that lightens slightly when brought to light. Smells of roasted malts, smoke, chocolate, coffee, gentle malt bitterness and some notable alcohol. Flavor is massively smoky with enjoyable coffee and roasted esters and some residual sweetness to help create some sort of a balance. As it warms the smoky flavors loosen up quite a bit allowing the variety of dark malt esters to shine. Chocolate esters are highlighted exceptionally along with gentle coffee, smooth bitterness and an enjoyable amount of residual sweetness. Pitted fruit esters exist but are incredibly subtle. Body is on the heavy side, but not overly considering the style. Mouthfeel is very smooth and silky despite its massively rich malt profile. At 9.5% ABV this is definitely a sipper but not overly offensive with more than enough dark malt esters to hide the alcohol easily. Over all quite good but not anything particularly unique. If you enjoy Imperial Stouts that are nicely roasted and to style you should certainly enjoy this brew. I will definitely be aging my 2nd bottle to see what it has to offer in a year or two. Give it a shot and ride your bike.

Sierra Nevada Fritz & Ken's Ale

Dark Lord Day: A Journey

May 7th, 2010 beckel

What a weekend. Such a weekend it’s taken me more than a week to write about it, so lets just start from the beginning. Early Friday morning my friends Mike and Shawn of The Beer Genome Project gathered with another friend Jason and myself to start our adventure to the land of Chicago. On our way through Wisconsin en route to New Glarus we realized we were very close to The Grumpy Troll Brewpub and decided to stop by for a bite to eat and a few libations. Over all the food was decent, my beer cheese soup hit the spot but was nothing particularly special, though my corn muffin was awesome and Shawn seemed to particularly enjoy his black bean burger which looked very natural and hearty. I went with a pint of their Imperial IPA called Maggie which was dandy but of all the beers we sampled their two porters really stood out, I particularly enjoyed the Amnesia Baltic Porter which Jason ended up bringing a growler of home. Another unique brew that was highly enjoyed was Slow Eddie, a jalapeno session beer with some serious jalapeno flavor but not overly intense heat.

Grumpy Troll Brewpub
Grumpy Troll Sign

Old New Glarus Brewery
Old New Glarus Brewery

After driving through many winding, hilly roads we eventually made it to New Glarus and quickly checked out the exterior of their old brewery and made our way another mile down the street to their fantastic new brewery. The exterior of their new brewery is fantastic with cascading rocks and water running down the front of the building which is divided into three major sections: The brewery, the gift shop/tap room and their storefront. Not only is the exterior attractive but the massive brewery is absolutely fantastic. Not only is it the largest brewery I’ve ever seen state side but you are also allowed to view almost the whole place at your will free of charge. First of course we had to grab ourselves a beer. You can either get a pint for $6 and keep the glass (a $5 value) or you can get 3 pours in a sample glass which you also get to keep (1$.50 value) for $4.50. I started with their Stone Soup their Abby, which is not overly complex but sold enough. I also ended up trying a bit of their Moon Man Pale Ale a gently hopped ale that was very mellow in the finish with hops only being present in the beginning of the sip. The favorites of the day were their classic Wisconsin Belgian Red [review] which was fantastic off tap & their new Golden Ale a delicious very purely Brett flavored ale that I will write about in more detail when I open my bottle. As you walk into the towards the brewery you see their lab and quality assurance with people hard at work ensuring you get the best beer possible. Upon entering their brewery proper the wonderful smell of Spotted Cow being brewed was overwhelming and fantastically bready. The whole brewery was fantastic but the things that stood out the most for me were their insanely large fermenters and their massive magnetic bottling line. I was ecstatic to find some of their fantastic Cran-Bic at their bottle shop and grabbed two four packs but I ended up trading one back to a very happy brewery employee. A few other treasures included the aforementioned Golden Ale and another R&D beer called Two Women. Right before leaving we ran into a combination of local friends and not so local new acquaintances that had also traveled down from Minnesota together, Stu from Friday Night Beer, Aaron from The Captains Chair, another Aaron from The Vice Blog and Dave from The Drunken Polack. After some greetings and friendly harassment it was time to get a move on.

New Galrus Brewing
New Glarus Brewing

New Glarus Brewing
Even More of New Glarus Brewing

Awesome Sign at New Glarus
Awesome Sign at Brewery Entrance

New Glarus Bottling Line
Part of New Glarus’ Fantastic Bottling Line

Brewing Kettles at New Glarus
Gorgeous New Glarus Brewing Kettles

After painstakingly making our way through Chicago traffic and dropping off our gear at my cousins house it was time do do some real drinking and check out what the Chicago beer scene has to offer. Some local friends of Mike & Shawn wanted to meet at the well reviewed Revolution Brewing a new brewpub near Logan Square so we hopped on a bus and ventured forth. Upon entering I immediately knew it would be a task to find the people we were looking for as the place was packed as can be. Luckily we found them near the end of the bar and managed to snag a small area near some registers, regularly moving out of the way of bussers and servers. Regardless good conversation was had and it was nice meeting some fellow beer geeks including Ken & Brad of Hop Cast, Stephen of Fresh Brew Log as well as a very nice and equally geeky gal named Sarah. On tap was a large selection of their brews and a fantastic selection of guest beers. Being a brewpub and all I had to start with something home crafted so I opted for their Iron Fist Pale Ale which was quite tasty. After that I had to sample the two beers they had on tap that were made for the Craft Brewers Conference that had been held earlier that month: Lagunitas Chicago Fusion Ale & a hoppy Two Brothers brew I can’t recall the name of, both of which were solid but nothing mind blowing. Another ale from Two Brothers that was very nice was their new Resistance IPA which is fermented in their new foudre’s (large oak barrels) and is wonderfully balanced and smooth on the palate. At the end of the night I ended up sampling some of Revolution’s Samadhi Double IPA and had to get a glass for myself as it was absolutely fantastic. If we hadn’t been on our way to another bar I could have drunken it all night. Not only does Revolution Brewing have solid beers but their food was delicious as well. After about an hour wait for a table we started off with a few baskets of bacon popcorn, yes you read that right. Delicious popcorn smothered in bacon fat with crisp bits of bacon scattered and the most delicious and delicately fried sage I have ever consumed. Equally fantastic was the Working Man Burger I got complete with aged cheddar, beer battered onions, bacon and one of the most amazing and massive locally made burger buns I have ever consumed. If all that wasn’t enough one of our new friends knew the assistant brewer Matty who was courteous enough to give us a personal tour throughout their awesome brewing & cellaring area as well as their yet to be finished 2nd floor which will eventually host a 2nd small kitchen, stage and additional dining. Many thanks mate.

As if we hadn’t imbibed enough we decided the only appropriate thing to do was check out Piece Brewery & Pizzeria. A nice space with much more elbow room and a wonderful aroma of pizza floating through the room. There we ran into a few more local friends Dean & Rita and enjoyed some solid brews. I started with a pint of  Dysfunctionale a wonderfully hoppy Pale Ale and couldn’t help but continue coming back to it and it’s fresh resiny citrus characters. I also sampled a bit of a Strong Ale, a Smoked Stout and pint of their IPA collaboration with 3 Floyds hilariously titled Marketing Ploy, all of which were rather tasty. You can read my review of Dysfunctionale here. Unfortunately the two times we made it there we didn’t have appetites because their pizza smelt fantastic, definitely a to-do next time I’m in town. After bar close, a cab ride home and a New Glarus Cran-Bic night cap it was time to hit the hay for the big day ahead.

As the big day came upon us we awoke a bit later than originally planned but I was grateful for the extra rest after a big night of drinking till 2am or so. After gathering our bearings we headed off to Stephen’s place to snag a few “golden tickets” as he was unable to make the event and were kindly greeted with some homebrew as well. Which will be enjoyed and written about some time in the future in conjunction with The Beer Genome Project. A short drive across the border and we were in Munster, Indiana. After grabbing some grub and some technical difficulties the adventure to find parking started. After driving through many parking lots and every street around we finally found a parking spot on the grass and unloaded our brews. After walking a few blocks and my arms nearly falling off from the amount of beer being carried we observed the madness that is Dark Lord Day. The easiest analogy I can make is to imagine three blocks of tail gating but with good beer. Tents, grills and people as far as the eyes can see and 10 times as much beer. After finding my friends and dropping off my beer for safe guarding I made my way to the 3 Floyds tap tent and settled on a glass of Gumball Head a fantastically hoppy but very drinkable American Wheat Ale that was simply wonderful. After briefly checking out their large brewery and searching for my friend Stu I returned to our spot and sampled a few delicious brews including a side by side tasting of Dark Lord ’09 and ’10 as well as some Surly Darkness’ 09. The ’09 Dark Lord had mellowed wonderfully and had gone from an almost offensively strong motor oil of a beer to a beer that fit the style perfectly and showed off the variety of flavors present marvelously. The ’10 on the other hand showed great diversity in flavors even with its young age and was much more drinkable and smooth than the ’09 had been when it was young. I will do a proper review sometime in the future. Shortly there after Stu showed up with a bunch of glasses of  Vanilla Dark Lord which was very tasty and to me really brought out the chocolate characters of the beer which I found very enjoyable. We then ventured to the brewpub to acquire some Barrel Aged Dark Lord which was also quite tasty with gentle oak characters creating some nice mellowing esters. I then had to sample a half pint of their Dreadnaught a fantastic Imperial IPA and finished off with a glass of Barrel Aged Popskull a 10% Brown Ale collaboration they did last year with Dogfish Head and a simply phenomenal brew. If only I could have taken some home. A few trades and many samples later I found Shawn & Mike who were about to cart our allotted Dark Lord to the car and noticed it was almost 5pm so I hopped in line with my friend Jason to get some extra bottles of Dark Lord when the free for all happened. I was impressed with how well the 3 Floyds staff managed the hoards of people and managed to make the final sales run very efficiently. After a bringing our extra 3 bottles a piece back to our friends spot and some more consumption the weather gods finally decided to tear up on us. Finishing off the wonderful event in what became the trips constant fashion.

Some Bikes at DLD 2010
Some Bikes at Dark Lord Day

Crowd at DLD 2010
Some of the Crowd at Dark Lord Day

Russian Imperial Stouts
Vertical Tasting of Dark Lord ’09 , ’10 & Darkness ’10

3 Floyds Brewpub & Stu
More Crowds in Front of the Brewpub and Stu

Word had it that some of our friends were heading to the nearby Flossmoor Station Restaurant & Brewery so we figured it would be logical to to grab some food there as well. We ended up splitting a massive sampler of close to twenty brews and grabbed some grub. I enjoyed my cheese steak, though frankly I would have enjoyed most food at that point. Aside from the massive number of taps available in our sampler it wasn’t really that impressive. I remember enjoying  a lager of some variety but my lack of taking notes isn’t helping here.

After enjoying the sobering effects of some food we made our way back to Chicago and decided to check out the Small Bar Fullerton location which happened to be just down the street from where we were staying. Though our stay was short the bar was very nice and their tap selection was even more fantastic. We all ended up with glasses of The Lost Abbey’s 10 Commandments and were ever so pleased. Not only was it fantastic to be able to get such a beer on tap, it was also reasonably priced and wonderfully delicious.

To wrap up our evening we meandered back to Piece Brewery and  had the opportunity to meet and chat with Tommy Werner and some other friends. As well as being entertained by karaoke and more delicious Dysfunctionale, which I couldn’t help but grab a growler of. After another long night it was time to pass out before the journey home.

Aside from some crappy traffic in Wisconsin the trip home was pretty uneventful, but it was nice to be heading home. Overall Dark Lord Day was a fantastic event. If you are into craft beer and enjoy sharing it with others you will have a blast. Never have I seen such vast and awesome display of beer lovers doing what beer lovers love to do: drink, share & chat. Not to mention all of the other great places one can stop en route to Indiana. Probably one of the best opportunities to sample and share beers you never thought you would be able to get your hands on. If you have the means and the time to ever participate in this event I highly encourage it. Golden tickets or not.

New Glarus Goodies
New Glarus Loot

Other Goodies
Other Loot