My friends Sarah and Jason purchased a growler deal through 1500 ESPN Deals which includes fills at eight breweries, including Brau Brothers Brewing Co. in Marshall which is just under three hours away. With the arrival of spring, we knew it was time to pack up some snacks, grab the growler and hit the road.

Considering how much time I spend in the city, it’s fun to drive through farm country now and again. We admired the farm equipment, a barn with a smiling face on it, and noticed that quilting shops and chiropractors seem to be the staples in every town. Traffic was light and we made great time.

Brau’s tap room is spacious and laid back, and you can’t miss the fire truck parked behind the bar.

Yes, it’s real.

We grabbed a booth and owner Dustin Brau’s daughter chatted with us about beer until we all settled on what to get – she was very helpful! The tap room has food available, and I had given Dustin a heads up that we would need something vegan. We could choose between salads, sandwiches and wraps and I decided on a faux chicken wrap with fresh spinach, tomatoes and cucumbers.

While we waited for our food, Dustin offered us a tour and holy cow, the place is huge! They have a separate barrel room which smelled wonderful, there’s a cooler room full of bottled beer, and he told us that they host dinner parties in the back. Dustin was so great to talk to; we could have stayed for hours.

Chris ordered a flight and decided the Village Prude as his favorite. It’s a Belgian Blonde Ale, and Sarah and Jason also liked it enough to select it for their growler. Dustin told us they’re going to sour some of it and call it the Village Tart which I think is an excellent idea! I love hearing the unique ideas that craft breweries have.

As we talked with Dustin, he recommended we check out Grandview Valley Winery on the way back. We had planned to stop at a winery anyway, so we figured we might as well follow his advice!

We enjoyed driving in among the vineyard and envisioning what it’ll look like in a couple months when everything is green again. Jason and I each ordered a glass of wine while Sarah and Chris went with a tasting. I enjoyed my Frontenac Gris, although it could have used a little extra something. It was easy to drink but more flavor or carbonation would have been welcome. Sarah especially enjoyed the tasting and purchased a few bottles to take home.

The winery also has a good selection of craft beer and they serve pizza, but we were still too full from Brau to try out the food. Maybe next time!

Oh, and if you noticed the sign in the photos, we did not experience the attack waitress while we were there.

I’m so happy the four of us took the time to make this trip. And even though it was a lot of driving for one day, it didn’t really feel like it (maybe Sarah feels differently since she did all the driving!).

Where’s a fun place you’ve gone for a one-day or overnight road trip?

Road Trip to Brau Brothers Brewing Co. My friends Sarah and Jason purchased a growler deal through 1500 ESPN Deals which includes fills at eight breweries, including…

Six hand-picked beer recommendations from Jason Alvey, owner of The Four Firkins

  • Oro De Calabaza by Jolly Pumpkin Artisanal Ales. A golden-style ale, Alvey says the oak-aged beer – one of his all-time favorites – has an “earthy, barnyard” character that “sounds awful but is absolutely gorgeous.
  • Orval Trappist Ale. This imported Belgian-style golden ale, brewed by Trappist monks, is dry hopped (think of steeping tea, but using hops) that Alvey says produces a one-of-kind floral flavor.
  • St Feuillien’s Saison. This Belgian farmhouse ale has a “dry, earthy, spicy” flavor profile with hints of peach and apricot, Alvey says.
  • Flander’s Red Ale by Rodenbach Brewery. Fermented in wood (and with the same bacteria that is used in yogurt) this beer has a dry finish, with hints of passion fruit and sweet raisin, Alvey says.
  • Flat Earth Northwest Passage IPA. Closer to home, St. Paul-based Flat Earth’s IPA has the highest IBU (International Bitterness Unit) count of any IPA made in Minnesota. The result is a strong hop flavor with hints of pine, mango, guava and citrus.
  • Brau Brothers Brown Ale. Another Minnesota brew – although from farther afield, in Lucan, Minn. – Alvey says this is a great “session ale” because it has low alcohol content but is full of flavors such as caramel and raspberry.

Read about Alvey’s store The Four Firkins, and its new location here.

Photo by James Cridland via Creative Commons.


Hello everyone.

Two days ago I was invited to dinner by my dear friend Adam. What did I bring as a party favor? Beer, of course!

Today I’m going to do a quick recap of the brews I chose for that nights’ meal. 

There was no first course, so I filled in the void with an aperitif. I chose an imperial pilsner called über Pils from Blue Mountain Barrel House to engage my audience. As we all sat outside on the deck and took in the sun, the bold yet refreshing pils whet our appetite in the very best way.

For the dinner itself I broke out the Corsendonk Patter Dubbel. The meal consisted of steamed vegetables, rotisserie chicken, home made mashed potatoes, and garlic bread. I felt as though the dubbel fit quite well because of its ability to wrap its malty sweetness around the savory flavors of the chicken and the fluffy creamy characters of the mashed potatoes. The dubbel cut away at the strong flavors from the garlic bread and yet it was still subtle enough to not overpower the veggies.  

As soon as we rubbed our bellies and declared ourselves full, I peeled back the wax of an interesting bottle called the Bancreagie Sour Peated Ale from Brau Brothers. This beer really caught everyone’s attention. I’ve never had anything like it personally. It was bright and tasted like sourdough bread. It had a peat smoke hint behind all the acid yet it was beautifully balanced. This was the best way to not only cleanse the palate after the flavors of the meal, but it intrigued it at the same time. I will certainly be using this beer at a dinner again very soon.

Last but not least, I brought along my favorite beer of all, the Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier Märzen. Because it’s an obviously smokey brew I believed it may be a fun way to wrap things up, especially after tasting hints of smoke with the peated ale. 

This beer pairing dinner was quite a spontaneous experiment, but I thoroughly enjoyed it and I know my guests did as well. I look forward to telling you about the next one.


Moo Joos

Brewed By:

Brau Brothers Brewing Co.

Lucan, Minnesota, USA

Style: Milk/Sweet Stout

ABV: 5.8%

IBU: 24

Availability: year-round

Pours a very dark, opaque brown with a thin tan head that leaves little lacing. Wonderfully smooth, sweet, and milky. Bitter dark chocolate and a hint of coffee with dry, roasty malts. Thin to medium body with a certain sticky chewiness. Medium carbonation. Very drinkable and enjoyable.

Week of March 22nd Preview

Week of March 22nd Preview

Sunday – I’ve admired Gabriel Gomez’s puppetry at Lyric Arts and I’ll be interviewing him about their upcoming show Bunnicula for RedCurrent. In the evening I’m heading to Intermedia Arts to see Danami’s Soulnami show. It’s part concert and part theater and will celebrate the release of his album “Before the Wait.”

Monday – No plans!

Tuesday – John Heimbuch, co-artistic director of Walking Shadow…

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Getting through my first glass of Brau Brothers Brewing Company’s Hundred Yard Dash and it’s beyond ridiculous.

Beer advocate has it at an 86% which is better than most of the grades I got in school and I think I turned out better than most people. 

I get to consider it a local beer since it’s brewed out of Lucan (huh?), Minnesota and it makes it all the more better.

REVIEW TIME (the part of the post where we collectively look at a review and go ‘what the hell does this all mean’?)

Poured from a bottle into a shaker pint, the beer is a bright, slightly hazed, copper-caramel coloring with a slow, steady flow of carbonation throughout, and a low profile, filmy, sparse coating of white head. Aromas of citrus sweet, with orange, tangerine, and grapefruit blending together in a tasty balance, as well as some resinous highlights, and a subtle biscuit backbone. Flavors are resinous and floral forward, with a blast of citrus blend to follow, a toasted and caramel backbone, and subtle notes of pine and grass. Light, smooth bodied in mouth, with a subtle resinous and sweet aftertaste, blending the caramel and citrus notes. The finish is smooth, slightly effervesced and slightly dry. Extremely drinkable. - Some dude from North Caroline on Beer Advocate

I think this is like the extremely attractive sibling of Two Hearted, but sweeter than Two Hearted because Two Hearted probably ignored you in high school. I have no idea what the hell I’m even talking about anymore.

The Perfect Beer Dabbler Day

The Perfect Beer Dabbler Day

Me with Matt Hauck of Fair State Brewing Cooperative

Craft beer, live music and a mild winter day: we really couldn’t have asked for better in regards to Beer Dabblerthis year. The sold out event at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds hosted over 120 breweries, food trucks, three locals bands, a heated Coliseum and so much more. I felt the excitement in the air when the gates opened and the flood of…

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