Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Midwest Beers

I recently spent a week in the Midwest and tasted quality beers from Minneapolis to Chicago.  There was no shortage of craft beer - except if you try to buy beer at a grocery store in Minnesota, or apparently on a Sunday - and I did not go into a restaurant that did not have at least two local craft options.  Here are my thoughts on a few beers and a brewery:

Surly Brewing's Furious:  A malty IPA with a fantastic name.  I had it twice on my trip.  Once from a can, where I thought it marginal, and then a few days later on draft where it was stellar and proved why it is available all over Minneapolis.  At 6.5% abv I can't call it "furious," but it is a quality, full-bodied IPA, with a rounded bitterness. 

Revolution Brewing's Crystal Hero IPA.  Chicago's Revolution has a special series of beer called Hero, and I picked up a bottle of its Crystal Hero.  It is a single hop IPA brewed with Crystal hops.  It was a fresh, citrus flavored beer, and another Midwest IPA not afraid of a heavy malt bill.

Bent Paddle's Venture Pilsner.  It was clean, bready, sharp, refreshing, and smashing.  Venture was the best beer I drank all week (along with the stout described below).  When was the last time this blog called a pilsner the best anything?  Thanks to the employee at Downtown Minneapolis's Whole Foods for the recommendation on this beer.

Dangerous Man Brewing.  I managed to visit one brewery on my trip, Dangerous Man, located north of Minneapolis's downtown, across the Mississippi River.  I received a tip on the draft-only brewery from the same Whole Food's employee who told me about Bent Paddle's Venture Pilsner.  Dangerous Man's brewery and tasting room is located in an old bank building along a commercial street in a residential neighborhood.  The communal tables were filled with people enjoying a beer late on a warm summer afternoon.  A constant flow of locals were coming in to fill growlers, too, with several filling multiple growlers.

I didn't take a picture of the draft board, but I think there were eight or nine available options.  I had to try Dangerous Man's Rye IPA.  It was fine, and another IPA showing off its grain.  The Beer Rovette ordered the Cream Ale, which was far better than most cream ales I have tried.  It tasted like beer rather than an alcoholic dessert.  The star, by far, was Dangerous Man's Chocolate Milk Stout, a light-bodied stout that was big on flavor.  It was smooth and its roasted malts brimmed along with tastes of dark chocolate and coffee.  It was a delicious beer and was only around 5.0% abv.  Oh, and get this, I think Dangerous Man serves its full pours in Imperial pints glasses.  Heck Ya! 

During my week in the Midwest, I found that many restaurants and hotel bars focused on local or regional craft beers, and I didn't go to one restaurant that did not have a legitimate craft beer option.  The restaurant at the hotel where I stayed in Chicago only offered local craft beers - which included Wisconsin - and was marketing this feature.  The bad part was that none of the six options was priced less than $7.00, and all came in glasses smaller than a pint.  I had success in the Midwest finding and tasting beers I can't get here in San Diego made by small and regional brewers.

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