For the past several months I have been semi-secretly working out the details of an educational collaboration with Rob Shellman at the Better Beer Society. I’ve worked with Rob on past events, most recently hosting the fall semester of Better Beer Society University at Republic 7 Corners. This new project stems from our desire to see the education that happens at Minnesota beer festivals achieve the same level of quality as the festivals themselves.
With that in mind, A Perfect Pint and Better Beer Society are excited to announce the “Alliance for Beer Education (ABE)”, a new joint project aimed at providing quality education programs for Minnesota’s beer festivals.
The increased attention to craft beer in the media has brought with it a blossoming of enthusiasm among consumers. New palates are being brought into the fold every day, many of them at beer festivals that happen through the year. Educating these new consumers has never been more important.
Rob and I are both Certified Cicerones® with a combined 11 years’ experience as beer educators. Our credits include the Better Beer Society University, BBS Brown Bag Blind Tastings, The University of Minnesota Department of Continuing Education, Cooks of Crocus Hill, Kitchen Window, and Betty Crocker, as well as countless corporate and private events.
Minnesota’s beer festivals are second to none, and we applaud festival organizers for incorporating education into their events. We look forward to bringing our passion and high level of commitment to beer education tents statewide, beginning with the Minnesota Craft Brewers Guild’s Winterfest.
If you are going to Winterfest, please do check out the great programming at the education area. We’ve got some fantastic speakers lined up to cover some really interesting topics.
7:15: Michael Agnew & Rob Shellman – Beer Basics Where do beer styles come from? How do I get the fullest taste experience from beer? What kind of flavors am I looking for and where do they come from? Is there a right way to serve beer? Rob and I will lay out the basics to help you get the best enjoyment from every beer you sample at the fest. 7:45: Josh Havill – The Mighty Hop Josh Havill is an Undergraduate Research Assistant at University of Minnesota, working primarily on the University’s hop research program. He’ll be outlining the utilization, history, and botany of hops, as well as discussing the U’s research on hop growing in the Midwest. 8:15: Gary Muehlbauer – How Beer Saved the World Gary J. Muehlbauer is a Distinguished McKnight University Professor and Department Head in the Department of Plant Biology at the University of Minnesota. He will be discussing the history of barley and relating it to the Discovery Channel documentary How Beer Saved the World about all the good that beer has brought, from the birth of civilization to the development of automated manufacturing. 8:45: Michael Wagner – “The art of selecting: Choosing the right beer for you” Michael is the Manager of Strategic Imbibing a the Four Firkins Specialty Beer Store in St. Louis Park. The world of craft beer can get a bit overwhelming with new choices arriving on local shelves literally every day. Michael will discuss the trends and changing tides of taste preferences. He’ll dispel some myths and discuss how he goes about curating choices specifically for individual people at the Four Firkins. When it comes down to it you should drink what YOU like.
An educated beer drinker is a better beer drinker, and we look forward to expanding your palate and understanding of the world’s finest beverage.
I first met the guys from 612Brew in the early spring of 2010 while working on a piece about soon-to-be breweries for Heavy Table (there were only five at the time…crazy!). They were working in a South Minneapolis garage, tweaking recipes on a cobbled-together homebrew system and dreaming of bigger things. Two years later their “garage” is a 5000 square-foot warehouse space in a multi-million dollar commercial re-development in Northeast Minneapolis. The five-gallon, glass carboys have been replaced by 30-barrel tanks of mirror-polished stainless steel. The steps in-between included three business plan revisions, two cancelled leases, and a change of personnel, including hiring brewer Adam Schil.
Almost three years after than initial meeting, the crew is ready to launch. 612Brew already has beer in metro-area bars. The taproom at the corner of Central and Broadway will open tomorrow night, February 13th at 4:00pm.
The taproom retains the retro-industrial ambiance of the 1924 factory building that it occupies. Thick, maple timbers rise up two stories from the polished concrete floor. The bar top is made of re-purposed bowling alley lanes, while the bottom is faced with boards salvaged from an 1850s-vintage home. The gleaming brewery is separated from the public space by wooden standup bars. A tall, glass overhead door looks out onto a patio and rain garden, which is anchored by a stone amphitheater where live music is planned for the warmer months.
612Brew’s focus is on hop-centered session beers. They aim to satisfy that craving for bitterness with lower-alcohol brews that allow for more than one pint after work. They are launching with four beers. Six is a sessionable American Pale Ale with biscuit malt and bright citrus hops. This is the same beer – with some recipe tweaks – that I sampled three years ago in the garage. Zero Hour is an American black ale brewed with roasted wheat for a smoother, less-bitter roastiness that lets the hops shine through. Bitter Cold Winter Ale is a single-malt, single-hop IPA brewed with Maris Otter malt from England and Willamette hops from the Pacific Northwest. My favorite brew is Rated R, a balanced rye IPA. The focus here is on flavor and aroma hops. The bitterness bites, but not too hard. Spicy rye notes come in late and linger into the finish.
It’s hard to believe that I would call a one-and-a-half-year-old brewery old, but in today’s crazy world, with breweries popping up like popcorn, it’s the truth. Steel Toe Brewing Company is old. But that doesn’t make them any less wonderful. In my view Steel Toe is one of the top-five breweries in Minnesota. Size 7 might just be the best IPA made in the state. A recent blind tasting re-confirmed for me the brilliance of the light and lovely Provider Ale.
The opening this Friday, February 15th, of Steel Toe’s long-awaited taproom makes this a busy week for Twin Cities beer fans. The fun begins at 3:00pm and I’m guessing it will be crowded. Steel Toe is located at 4848 W. 35th St. in St. Louis Park. Be there!
I realized recently that I have a ton of public events coming up. Whether you want to learn the basics of making your own beer, find out what’s happening beer-wise in the upper-Midwest, or sit down to a tasty and educational meal paired with both beer and wine, I’ve got something here for you. Check it out!
July 10, 7 pm, $18 Homebrewing 101 How is beer made? What is beer made of? What is malted barley? What are hops? What causes that grapefruit flavor in my beer? What flavors should I taste in this beer? How does one taste beer? Questions, questions, questions…
The Garden by the Woods Garden Center
78 W 78th St
Chanhassen, MN 55317
July 11, 6-8 pm, $50 Trappist and Abbey Beers of Belgium Monastic brewing in Europe goes back to at least the 700s CE. It’s probably much older than that. While there are monasteries making beer all over the continent, it’s the Belgians that have elevated the tradition to exquisite heights. Only seven Trappist breweries have earned the right to use the trademarked label “Trappist Beer” and they are making some of the most complex beers available today. Another group of secular “abbey” breweries are not far behind; making beers of similar styles that can give the monks a run for their money. Certified Cicerone Michael Agnew of A Perfect Pint introduces you to the world of beer-making monks. You’ll learn what it takes to be a Trappist brewery and discover what makes them different from the abbey brewers. Along the way you’ll sample some of the best beers in the world.
Sunfish Cellars Wine & Spirits
803 Sibley Memorial Hwy (Hwy. 13)
Lilydale, MN 55118
July 17, 6-8 pm, $50 Don’t be Afraid of the Dark Dark beers are heavy, right? Actually, nothing could be further from the truth. Color tells you very little about the taste or heft of a beer. As I am fond of saying, “dark is not a flavor.” While there are heavy-duty dark beers, there are also some super hefty light-colored beers. A Belgian tripel looks like a pilsner, but can top 10% alcohol. A beer like Guinness that many perceive as weighty is actually very low alcohol and just as light as a “lite” beer. In this class Certified Cicerone Michael Agnew from A Perfect Pint guides you through the gamut of black and brown brews. You’ll learn where the color comes from and taste the full range of flavors that dusky beers can bring. Even those who say they don’t like dark beer will find something to love.
Sunfish Cellars Wine & Spirits
803 Sibley Memorial Hwy (Hwy. 13)
Lilydale, MN 55118
July 18, 8-9 pm, $15 The State of the Midwest Craft Brewing Industry Two years ago, while observing the first pops of what is now a full-on, beer-brewing boom, I hatched a hair-brained scheme to find out what was really going on beer-wise in the upper Midwest. I had this notion that the region well may be the next beer Mecca – a successor to the Colorado Front Range – and I wanted everyone else to know about it. A guide book was the way to do it. 10,000 miles, 25 hotel rooms, and 1800 beers later the book is with the publisher. I have personally visited 180 breweries in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, and Illinois, and interviewed the brewers at nearly every one. I have intimate knowledge of what’s happening in one of the fastest growing beer scenes in the country.
This class will take you on a beer tour of the upper Midwest featuring brews from beer makers old and new in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa and Illinois. We’ll look at overall trends in the region and explore some of the new styles being crafted to suit the regional palate.”
The Four Firkins Specialty Beer Store
5630 W. 36th Street
St. Louis Park, MN 55416
July 21, 3-7 pm, Festival admission $30 advance or $40 at the door Tasting Beer: The Beer Flavor Triangle Beer is made from three basic ingredients, malt, hops, and yeast (I know, water is in there too.) Each of these ingredients imparts its unique character to the beer as flavor, aroma, color, and mouthfeel. Beer styles are identified by the relative weight of character from each ingredient. In this session we’ll talk about what those characteristics are and how to identify them so you get the most from your beer at the festival and beyond.
All Pints North Beer Festival
Bayfront Festival Park
700 W Railroad St
Duluth, MN 55802 http://www.mncraftbrew.org/festivals/allpintsnorth
July 26, 6-8 pm, $50 Beer 101: Beer Flavor and Where it Comes From Most people readily accept the notion that wine is a beverage worthy of contemplation and consideration. Recognition of the subtleties of varietals and terroir is firmly established. After 50 years of a market dominated by light lagers, the same cannot be said of beer. For most people beer is a pale-yellow, fizzy liquid with very little flavor and hopefully even fewer calories. But good beer never went away and is currently enjoying a worldwide renaissance driven by the emergence of small craft breweries throughout the United States. Well-crafted beer rivals wine for flavor and complexity. Join the instructor, a certified Beer Cicerone, or beer adviser similar to a wine sommelier, for a course on the basics of beer tasting and appreciation. During the session you will learn about beer styles, ingredients, brewing processes through demonstration and tastings. You will gain an understanding of how ingredients such as hops, barley, and yeast contribute to the overall character of particular beers.
Sunfish Cellars Wine & Spirits
803 Sibley Memorial Hwy (Hwy. 13)
Lilydale, MN 55118
August 1, 6-9 pm, $75 Farm to Table Beer Pairing Dinner Midsummer is the high season for fresh-from-the-farm produce. Nothing goes better with fresh veggies than crisp, light summer beers. Chef Philip Dorwart from Create Catering demonstrates great seasonal recipes, paired with craft beers by Cicerone Michael Agnew. Menu: Heirloom Tomato Salad with Sweet Sherry Vinaigrette, Reggiano, Arugula and Toasted Barley; Grilled Asparagus with House-Made Lemon Agrumati, Crispy La Quercia Prosciutto and Poached Egg; Hops-Smoked Lamb Ribs with Rosemary-Malt Syrup Glaze, Roasted Grits and Spinach; Frangelico Milk Shake with Toasted Milk and Peanut Butter-Chocolate Mascarpone Cookie.
With Chef Philip Dorwart of Create Catering/The Dining Studio
Cooks of Crocus Hill in St. Paul
877 Grand Avenue
Saint Paul, MN 55105
September 21, 6-9 pm, $75 Grapes, Grains & Fromage With Sommelier Leslee Miller & Fromager Benjamin Roberts of France 44
Do you love beer, wine and cheese? Then this is the class for you! Learn how to pair three of your favorite treats, all in one class. Sommelier Leslee Miller and Cicerone Michael Agnew team up with pal, Fromager Benjamin Roberts of France 44 for one fantastic festival of cheese, vino and brew.
Cooks of Crocus Hill in Edina
3925 West 50th Street
Edina, MN 55424
October 23 & 30, 6-8 pm, Cost TBA Fireside Sippers – Warming Beers for Fall and Winter
Autumn is an in-between time. There is a chill in the air, but it hasn’t yet turned brutally cold. The leaves are turning colors and beginning to fall, but the trees are not yet the gray skeletons that they become in the winter. It’s time to put away the barbeque and break out the firepit. So what makes a beer appropriate for fall? Well, slightly higher alcohol for one thing, just enough to take the edge off the chill air. A little color would be welcome, amber, red, orange, and brown to match the seasonal hues. A bit of spice is always nice, and perhaps a wink and a nod to the fall harvest, be it of hops or pumpkins.Winter’s brutal bite and early darkness drive most people indoors to curl up next to a crackling hearth. This is the time for snifter beers; malty old ales, barleywines, and big imperial stouts. These are beers to savor slowly through the evening, letting them warm you from within.Fall and winter are great seasons for beer. Certified Cicerone Michael Agnew takes you through the best these seasons have to offer from the brazenly bitter fresh hop beers to soothingly sweet English barleywines. Apple beers, pumpkin beers and spicy holiday ales are all a part of the mix. Along the way we’ll cover the histories of the styles and how they’re made.
University of Minnesota Learning Life
The campus Club
403 Coffman Memorial Union
300 Washington Avenue SE
Minneapolis MN 55455
November 8, 6-9 pm, $75 Fall Harvest Beer & Wine Pairing Dinner With Sommelier Leslee Miller and Chef Mike Shannon
Cooks of Crocus Hill in Stillwater
324 S. Main St.
Stillwater, MN 55082
The Minnesota beer scene continues its mighty growth surge. Yesterday was a big day for beer-world announcements – two very public and one that came to me late last night in an email.
I first wrote about the 612 Brew guys (and gal) in the Heavy Table two years ago (almost to the day). At the time they were working out of a garage just south of Uptown, brewing small batches and dreaming of big ones. They had done a few publicity events, leading me to wonder just exactly what they were. Were they homebrewers showing off their beer at very public gigs, or were they a production brewery that didn’t seem to have beer available anywhere but these shindigs? Turns out the homebrew side was closer to the truth, but they were in the process of getting licensed, so the TTB put a stop to those events.
Not much had been heard from 612 since, until yesterday. On 6/12 – get it, 612 – they announced that a lease had been secured, a brewery had been ordered, and things were moving forward to open a brewery in Nordeast. The building at the corner of Broadway and Central sits below street grade. It’s an old industrial building about to be redeveloped that the brewery’s press release says will feature “exposed brick and timber along with polished concrete floors, an outdoor patio and a rain garden, creating a perfect atmosphere for the brewery.” Indeed, renderings of the finishes space make it look very inviting. The team is working with local manufacturer Minnetonka Brewing and Equipment, to build a custom 15-barrel brewhouse designed to be architecturally compatible with the space.
612 is steering away from the big beers that have been all the rage in craft-brewing for the last several years. They plan to make lower alcohol session beers, starting with SIX, an American pale ale, and Rated R, a spicy and hoppy Rye IPA. Other brews are also in the plan including a German lager with ginger called Mary Ann (a Gilligan’s Island reference for those too young to remember). The plan is also to serve Indian street food in the taproom.
The second big announcement came from up north. The Star Tribune reported that Fitger’s Brewhouse plans to open a new brewpub in downtown Minneapolis at 107 3rd Ave. N. They plan to open in late fall or early winter, but the brewery won’t be in place until sometime next spring or summer. In the meantime they will feature some made-in-Duluth Fitger’s brews along with guest taps from other Minnesota beer makers. The design may include outdoor seating and a possible rooftop beer garden. This is big news to many Twin Cities beer fans that currently have to trek the 150 miles to Duluth to enjoy some of the best beers in the state.
Blacklist Brewing and Wolf Revival
The last announcement came to me in an email with the subject line “Two More Beer Projects.” The first of these project is something called the Blacklist Brewing Beer + Art Project. The brainchild of 7-year veteran brewer Brian Schanzenbach and marketing guy/Certified Cicerone Jon Loss, Blacklist will operate as itinerant brewers in the mold of Mikkeller in Denmark, leasing time and space in other brewery’s facilities to make their beers, although they haven’t ruled out eventually building their own plant. They’ll form collaborations with regional artists to meld unique beers with artwork to match, a different beer and a different artist every month. The pair plan to work on a membership model similar to Crooked Stave in Colorado. Membership buys you a monthly shipment of beer and art starting in 2013. Different membership levels get you different amounts of each. Memberships are already available for purchase at the Blacklist Kickstarter project page. A glance at the proposed beer list reveals some creative concoctions including a lot of sours. How ‘bout a white grape strong Belgian golden or an imperial IPA with fennel and spruce.
But that’s not all. Loss and Schanzenbach are involved in a second project centered in Stillwater. They are collaborating with the great-granddaughters of the Joseph Wolf family to revitalize the pre-prohibition brewery of the family name. They plan to introduce 750 ml bottles of Belgian strong golden and Berliner Weiss in Stillwater and limited outlets in the TC Metro later this summer. Initially these beers will be brewed at Dubrue in Duluth. Apparently the group is trying to purchase the old Wolf brewery buildings on Main Street in Stillwater, but are running into some difficulty.
It’s definitely an interesting time to be a beer fan in Minnesota.
In news that has shocked the MN beer world, Jeff Williamson posted on his Facebook feed this morning that he has been sacked from Flat Earth Brewing Company, the brewery that he founded in 2007. In his post Williamson said, “We’ll it’s been an interesting ride, but I was just fired from Flat Earth this morning.” A few minutes later Cathie Dirks-Williamson, Jeff’s wife and Flat Earth Co-founder followed up, “Jeff was fired this morning from our beloved Flat Earth Brewing Company. Thank you to all our family, friends, and fans. We brewed for you and we hope you enjoyed our beer in good times and bad. Peace out.” I have not yet reached the Williamsons for comment.
A spokesperson at the brewery declined to go into detail, but said that Williamson “has chosen to leave the company.” According to this spokesperson the decision was made by Williamson a month ago and they were tying up loose ends before he actually departed. The current Assistant Brewer Bob Roepke will continue brewing until hiring decisions have been made. Flat Earth currently has an ad on Probrewer.com looking for an Assistant Brewer.
The Williamsons founded Flat Earth in 2007. By 2010 the brewery had hit financial difficulties and the decision was made to sell the company to an investor to head off foreclosure. John Warner bought Flat Earth in that year, with Jeff Williamson staying on as Brewmaster. There have been rumors of tension between them for some time.
This is a developing story. Stay tuned.
UPDATE: 10:15 AM, 4/9/12
Flat Earth Brewery just posted the following statement on its Facebook feed .
“Jeff submitted his intent to leave the company over 3 weeks ago, yesterday was his last day, why he chooses to say he was fired is not accurate. Please be sure you know all the facts. We wish Jeff the best.”
UPDATE: 2:39 PM, 4/9/12
Flat Earth Brewery has removed the statement above from its Facebook Feed.
The Williamsons have declined to comment citing possible legal questions and stating “we certainly don’t want to battle the brewery on FB.”
Clean glassware is essential for proper beer service, and I’m not talking about that filmy, smeary glass they served your water in at the Bug Tussle Diner. I’m talking about “beer clean” glassware. That means a glass that is totally free of grease, soap, and all other residue and detritus. This is a glass that will sheet water the way the old Cascade dishwasher soap commercials used to boast about. Only a beer clean glass will give you that nice fluffy head of foam when you pour and pretty lacing as you drink down.
MN Clean Pint is an effort to reward bars and restaurants that serve your beer in a properly cleaned glass. It’s an opportunity for you to recognize establishments that make the extra effort and give them the chance to win the coveted title of “Cleanest Pint in MN.”
To participate all you need do is photograph that laced-up, beer-clean glass wherever you may be enjoying a frosty one. Post the photo on Twitter during the month of February using the tag #MNCleanpint, identifying what fine watering hole has met the test. By doing so you also register yourself to win prizes including a $100 bar tab, online Cicerone™ training, glassware, a kegerator kit, and much much more.
I’m telling you, the rush of new breweries in Minnesota just can’t be stopped. Every time I turn around I learn about another one on the horizon that I had never heard of. On a trip out to the Lucid brewery today, I had the pleasure of speaking to Broc Krekelberg, one of the threesome behind Badger Hill Brewing Company, a new, soon-to-be brewery in the Twin Cities metro.
Badger Hill is still a couple months away from selling beer. They are still waiting for their brewers notice from the TTB to be able to get started. They expect that soon. They plan to launch with an ESB style beer. Other beers planned will be designed for a wide palate. A double IPA or the odd Belgian may be in the mix down the road, but the brewery’s focus will be on more sessionable beer styles. Kölsch was one that was mentioned.
Badger Hill will be brewing at Lucid Brewery in Minnetonka, taking advantage of the federal designation called alternating proprietorship that allows them to have their own brewer’s license while operating in another brewery’s space. It’s not contract brewing, they are a full-fledged brewery sharing equipment and space with another brewery. They have purchased and installed their own fermenters and have plans to bring in a bottling line, which would also allow Lucid to package their brews. Krekelberg emphasized how glad they are to have hooked up with Jon and Eric at Lucid. The chemistry between them is great and the arrangement has allowed Badger Hill to get up and running more quickly and with lower up-front capital needs.
I’m happy to welcome another new brewer to the state. I’m sure we’ll be hearing a lot more from Badger Hill Brewing very soon.
I have a bevy of new classes upcoming at Cooks of Crocus Hill. If you have never been to a class at Cooks, it’s high time you checked them out. You can learn about a wide range of culinary topics from scotch and steaks to how to boil water. There are demonstration and participation classes taught by some of the area’s best chefs and beverage experts. Two locations, St. Paul and Edina, make it convenient from many areas of the metro. And in my experience (of course I’m teaching them so I may be biased) these classes are a blast.
Home Brewing 101 January 5, 2012, 6-9 pm
You can make good beer at home, and you can do it right the first time around. Cicerone Michael from A Perfect Pint will familiarize you with all of the ingredients, equipment, techniques and processes necessary to make extract beer at home. We’ll also taste several commercial examples of beginner-appropriate beers. Menu: Light Appetizers and Samples of a Variety of Beers.
Bon Bons and Brews February 9, 2012, 6-9 pm
With Chocolatier Randy Kingsbury
Beer and chocolate. Yeah, maybe it sounds a little weird. But believe it – nothing goes better with silky-smooth, chocolaty-rich truffles than beer. Add exotic ingredients to the chocolate and the pairing adventure really gets going. Chocolatier Randy Kingsbury and Cicerone Michael Agnew take you on an indulgent tour of the best pairings this taste team has to offer. Menu: A Selection of Exotic Truffles Paired with Microbrewed Beers from Around the Country.
Best of the Best Beer & Wine Pairing Dinner February 15, 2012, 6-9 pm (WAIT LIST)
With sommelier Leslee Miller and Chef Mike Shannon
Cooks’ favorite trio, Chef Mike Shannon, Sommelier Leslee Miller and Cicerone Michael Agnew, are back to share some of their favorite trios — of food, wine and beer, that is! They’ve picked the best and most popular taste teams from all of the classes they’ve taught together. Whether you’ve missed their classes and hope to catch up, or you’d just like to come back for more, join Mike, Leslee and Michael for an evening of their greatest hits! You’ll taste their best bites and sips while learning all about how to make some stellar combinations of your own at home. Menu: Spinach Salad with Warm Bacon Vinaigrette; Roasted Root Vegetables with Herbed Aioli; Pot Roast with Shallots; Truffled Baked Potato Skins; Smore Pot de Creme.
Beer, Wine, and Cheese Throwdown February 20, 2012, 6-9 pm
With sommelier Leslee Miller and France 44 cheesmonger Song Lee
Cheese please! Cheese pairs perfectly to both beer and wine, but Leslee and Michael demand that you to pick a winner. Join Cheesemonger Song Lee from France 44 with Sommelier Leslee and Cicerone Michael for this awesome libation- and fromage-a-thon. A variety of milks, textures and styles make this cheese-off one for the books when both sommelier and cicerone stand off in an epic challenge to tickle your palate. Menu: Artisanal Cheeses Paired with a Global Selection of Beer and Wine.
The class list for the spring semester hasn’t been released yet, but here’s a sneak preview of my classes.
Spring Beer & Wine Dinner April 4, 2012
With Leslee Miller and Mike Shannon. This will sell out quickly.
Local Brews & Breweries May 22, 2012
Take a beer tour of the region.
On September 9th I’m back at Cooks, this time teaming up with Chef Rachael Rydbeck for World Tour of Beer: A Beer Pairing Dinner. Together we will take you on a hops-filled international excursion to find the best beer and food pairings anywhere. The menu will feature five courses of great food and beer from around the world. Get to the Cooks website and register!
photo from SeriousEats.com
Where: Cooks of Crocus Hill, 877 Grand Avenue in St. Paul When: Friday, September 9th, 6-9 pm Cost: $75 Menu: Provençal White Bean Dip (France); Chicken Tamales with Tomatilla Salsa (Mexico); Vegetable Curry (India); Thai Beef Salad (Thailand); Blueberry Cobbler (United States). Each course paired with beer.
Since December I have been touring breweries and interviewing brewers throughout the upper-Midwest for a book I’m working on for the University of Illinois Press. I’m building a very good overview of what is happening in our region beer-wise. Starting October 12th I’ll be sharing some of that knowledge in a class called Brews and Breweries of the Upper-Midwest. We’ll talk about the explosive growth the region’s brewing industry and explore its trends, tastes, and interesting personalities. Of course we’ll be sampling some of the best beers from Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin, and Illinois.
The class runs for four consecutive Wednesday evenings from 7-9 pm starting October 12th. It takes place at the Campus Club in Coffman Memorial Union on the University of Minnesota Minneapolis Campus. Registration is now open on the Learning Life website.
Here’s the official description.
The last five years have seen an explosion of new brewing activity in the Upper Midwest, making it one of the fastest growing beer scenes in the country. The region is home to an eclectic mix of old and new that includes some of the nation’s oldest breweries, a handful of microbrewing pioneers, and new breweries opening at a dizzying rate. It has spawned new beer-world superstars like Surly in the Twin Cities and Ale Asylum in Madison. The region’s breweries come in all shapes and sizes; from large producers making over 100,000 barrels per year to pico-breweries making beer 10 gallons at a time. Midwestern brewers are experimenting with local ingredients like Iowa corn (including the stalks) and aging beer in barrels from regional distilleries and wineries. This coterie of brewers is even packing some political clout, changing long-standing beer laws in several states, including Minnesota. This class will take you on a beer tour of the Upper Midwest featuring beers from breweries new and old in Iowa, Illinois, Wisconsin, and Minnesota. We’ll look at overall trends in the region and explore some of the new styles being crafted to suit the regional palate. Participants pay a $40 fee to the instructor on the first night for food and beverage.
Michael Agnew is a certified beer cicerone and the founder of A Perfect Pint, which offers beer tastings and educational experiences for private and corporate events. He is a national beer judge for the Beer Judge Certification Program, consults with restaurants about beer, and has taught classes at Kitchen Window and Cooks of Crocus Hill.