We can hardly get over the excitement about Tour de Oregon. But now I am super-psyched to announce the second Grains & Grapes Adventure Tour with my Certified Sommelier, mind wine-buddy Leslee Miller at Amusée. GERMANY!
Tastes of the Rhine River will be an extravagant exploration of one of the most famous beer and wine regions in the world – the Rhine River Valley in Germany. Kölsch breweries in Cologne. Altbier brewpubs in the Altstadt of Düsseldorf. Vinyards along the Rhine and the Mosel rivers. A Rhine river cruise. A couple of castles (including Neuschwanstein Castle, which is really a don’t-miss destination). And it all wraps up at the biggest beer fest on earth, the Munich Oktoberfest!
This really is going to be the trip of a lifetime.
When: September 29 to October 6, 2015 How Much: $3399*
Leslee and I have been joined at the hip for several years now, cialis spreading the good news of beer and wine. Our classes and events have earned a reputation for fun and excellence with aficionados across the Twin Cities and beyond. As our businesses have expanded and our relationships with breweries and wineries have strengthened, sick we feel it is time to share our insatiable love for not only beer & wine but travel as well!
With that in mind, we are launching Grains & Grapes Adventure Tours. And we’re starting off big. This year is already jam packed with a thrilling schedule of wine and beer adventures from Oregon to Germany.
Tour de Oregon (that’s o-re-GOHN), November 4-8, 2015
Leslee and I very excited about announcing our first trip. Tour de Oregon has taken us well over a year to plan (because we wanted it be THAT special!). It is now ready for registration. I can promise you it will be an amazing VIP travel experience for any wine/beer enthusiast!
Start your journey in Oregon’s ‘City of Roses’ — Portland! Explore Portland’s food and libation culture as we lead you through some of the city’s most coveted food sites and pairings. Enjoy a combo of privately led brewery tours by some of the city’s most talented brewmasters, taste from a variety of Portland’s legendary food-carts, and savor a perfectly paired chef/sommelier wine dinner in the heart of the city’s Pearl District.
Then travel to one of the world’s most envied, world-class sites for Pinot Noir – the Willamette Valley! We’ll stay in one of Condé Naste’s 2014 Top 25 Resorts, the Allison Inn & Spa, (named by the magazine ‘a jewel of a resort’) as we spend three days touring the terroir of the valley’s finest restaurants and wineries. Enjoy privileged access to many of the Pacific Northwest’s most talked about wine country experiences, as you sip your way through an array of fantastic Willamette Valley winery tours and tastings. Savor an afternoon walk through the Jory clay soils of a Dundee vineyard tour and experience a lavish winery cave dinner paired to one of the valley’s most celebrated Pinot Noir house’s exclusive portfolio. But the Willamette Valley is not just about wine. There is beer there as well. You’ll indulge in a brewmaster’s luncheon with the founder of one of Oregon’s newest and most interesting breweries, Wolves & People, with a collection of the brewery’s farmhouse-style gems paired to the Allison Inn’s award-winning food.
As if our adventure hasn’t already been a whirlwind of unbelievable experiences, we wrap up the weekend with a gorgeous private dinner in a cozy Dundee restaurant featuring a hand-crafted menu with beer and wine pairings selected by your Sommelier and Cicerone hosts.
This is truly an excursion you will be talking about for years to come; a trip that exceeds what Leslee and I plan for ourselves when we head to beer and wine territory!
An afternoon guided vineyard tour through some of the valley’s most coveted Pinot Noir sites with one of the valley’s most famous vineyard managers
Professional onsite coordination and assistance
Trip does not include:
Round-trip airfare (Plan to arrive in ‘PDX’ in time for our first event which begins @ 5pm on Wed, Nov 4th–Departure at your leisure on Sunday, Nov 8th)
Airport transfers in both your home city and Portland
$2650 per person includes the details listed above
Payment may be made by cash or check, or by credit card (processing fee of 4% applies to credit card payments)
Checks may be made payable to Amusée & mailed to: Amusée, P.O. Box 583242, Minneapolis, MN 55458
Prior to departure, a trip itinerary and package will be mailed to each passenger with full detail of the trip’s layout
Once payment is made, trip cost is nonrefundable.
Call 612.655.4839 to reserve your spot today! (Trip is limited to just 20 seats.)
Due the nature of the program inclusions combined with the limited space, we are giving priority to double occupancy requests (couples or two singles sharing a room) so we can fully use our block of 20 rooms. Single occupancy participation in group programs requires an additional fee or ‘single supplement’ as you would encounter on a cruise. We wanted to avoid this on our inaugural excursion, but will evaluate the demand and consider this option for future excursions. Thank you for your understanding.
When Minneapolis Town Hall Brewery got its first barrel in 2000, see barrel aging of beer was not yet the thing that it is now. Brewmaster Mike Hoops had heard rumblings at a Craft Brewers Conference about this crazy thing that some breweries were doing with their beers – putting them in used barrels. The result was an almost magical fusion of beer, viagra barrel, and booze. Hoops wanted in. A Jack Daniels barrel was obtained and Czar Jack was born.
As barrel-aging has expanded nationally, the Town Hall barrel program has expanded along with it. One barrel became several. Even more were added when additional cellar space opened up after the recent renovation. The barrel program is Mike Hoops’ baby. These are the beers of which he is most proud. In 2009 he got the chance to really show them off when they held the first Barrel Aged Week, now an annual event.
Hoops and crew go to the distilleries themselves to pick up barrels, creating relationships with distillers that help to insure they get the barrels they want in a world where used barrels are becoming scarcer. Even with these relationships he has concerns about getting some of the barrels they have used for many years.
This year’s Barrel Aged Week kicks off tonight at 5pm. It will include nine beer releases over six days, ending on Saturday the 21st. Whether you go one day or every day, these barrel aged beers are worth checking out.
Tonight’s release is Manhattan Reserve, a cherry grand cru aged in Woodford Reserve barrels. Grand cru is a nebulous term that doesn’t really correspond to any actual beer style. Every brewery’s grand cru is unique. For Mike Hoops the term just refers to the beer that a brewery views at its “celebratory” brew. The base beer for Manhattan Reserve has been brewed at Town Hall for around ten years. It’s a Belgian style beer with plenty of fermentation-derived fruit and spice. Tart cherries come through strongly in both the flavor and aroma, boosted by apple and orange notes and a touch of acidity. Caramel, vanilla, and bourbon offers a sweet counterpart. Effervescent carbonation and peppery spice complete the picture.
Two of my favorites will hit the taps on Saturday. Brown Label Belgian Bruin is a maple brown ale fermented with Belgian yeast and aged in a Woodford Reserve barrel. Big chocolate notes lead, accompanied by dark fruits like plums, prunes, and cherries. A low balsamic acidity brings to mind a Flanders Oud Bruin. Vanilla, oak, and subtle spicy note like cinnamon are in there too. Delicious.
Duke of Wallonia is an imperial witbier aged in a red wine barrel. This is a vinous beer with an interesting juxtaposition of lemony tartness and darker, red wine fruit. Coriander comes through loud and clear, but doesn’t get soapy or vegetal. Orange peel is subtler, but still adds some character.
I’m told the “brewers’ choice” beer will be released on Tuesday night. Foolish Angel is aged in Angel’s Envy barrels, a new distillery partner as of this year. I didn’t get to sample this one, but it is described as a “massively malty” and “beautifully smooth” Belgian quadrupel.
The barrel-aged beers are being sold this year in the new 750 ml growlers. This should allow for folks to get more than one brand to take home. Pre-sale took place on Sunday, February 8th, but a certain number of growlers have been reserved for purchase through the week. If you buy a glass of a particular beer in the brewpub, you will be given the option to purchase a growler of that same beer as long as supplies last.
A lot of people like to cellar these beers, some for a number of years. That is of course your decision, but I would suggest that growlers are not the best container for further aging of beer. They are not optimally designed to limit exposure to oxygen. Remember also that these beers are already well over a year old. They have already been aged. According to Hoops, “We’re releasing [these beers] when we’re pleased with how they are going to be received by consumers.” I say buy it and drink it. A beer not consumed is a beer wasted.
Daily beer released are at 5pm Monday through Friday. Saturday will have releases at 11am and 3pm.
If you went to a restaurant and your food was served to you on a dirty plate, sicknessed would you eat it? Whether you know it or not, viagra 60mg you are being served beer in dirty glassware all the time. Well, check maybe not actually dirty, but not as clean as it should be.
Introducing the concept of “beer clean.” A beer clean glass is one that is totally free of any residual cleaning products, oils, food residue, and lipstick; anything that will impact on the quality of the beer poured into it. Water will sheet on the inside of a beer clean glass instead of forming droplets. The sides of a beer clean glass will be free of bubbles when filled with beer. Where bubbles cling, there is soil. A beer clean glass will allow the formation of a firm and fluffy head and result in rings of “Belgian lace” with each sip of beer.
Unfortunately, many establishments don’t clean their glassware properly. Detergents and oils destroy beer foam and leave nucleation points for CO2 that will cause beer to lose its fizz more quickly.
This common problem was the inspiration for the MNCleanPint campaign. The idea is to reward those places that serve beer in a properly cleaned glass. For all off this month, if you drink a beer that leaves that lovely lace down the side of the glass take a picture of it, tweet it out with the hashtag #MNCleanPint. Be sure to mention where you are. The bar or restaurant that gets the most mentions wins the title of “Cleanest Pint in Minnesota.”
There are plenty of prizes for those who tweet as well, such as Cicerone training and tests, a $100 bar tab, and a home kegerator kit. These will be awarded during a celebration at the winning establishment! We will also be giving away beer glassware and all kinds of other prizes throughout the month so post frequently.
For the first time since our two businesses came together almost six years ago, Certified Cicerone Michael Agnew of A Perfect Pint and Certified Sommelier Leslee Miller of Amusée are venturing into the world of beer/wine touring!
Because this is a new venture, we thought it important send a survey to those of you who could be potentially interested in coming with us on our first trip. We know that surveys are not exactly at the top of everyone’s list. They can be time consuming and tedious. But to help make this first trip a resounding success, we would greatly appreciate your input.
So please, grab a glass of your favorite beer or wine, sit down for 30 seconds in your most comfortable spot, and share with us your honest feedback! You can access the survey here.
Surly Brewing Company officially opens their new digs this morning at 11am. So many words are being written/broadcast/Facebooked about this today that the news is hard to avoid. So many others have already given the basic information and said most of what needs to be said. I see no need to repeat what has already been oft repeated. I’ll keep my statement here brief. Space: The building is beautiful. It combines a stark, sildenafil concrete- and-steel modern sensibility with warming touches of wood and light. The communal seating in the beer hall encourages socializing (which is what beer is really all about), look but there are a few smaller tables for those hard-core Minnesotans who may not want to sit with strangers. The most impressive thing about the space is that the brewery is the focal point. Every vantage in the building – both upstairs and down – looks onto the brewery through two story walls of glass. Beer is at the center of this place.
Food: Chef Jorge Guzman has taken the concept of beer hall food and stepped it up several notches. There is barbeque, help meat, shellfish, salads and snacks. They even have pizza and a burger. But the snacks include things like Foie Gras French Toast and Bone Marrow. My don’t-miss menu items (there are so many): Smoked Brisket, Bone Marrow, Charcuterie Board (especially the pheasant rillette and the smoked ham), Bitter Greens Salad. This is food for grazing. It’s not the kind of thing where you order yourself an entrée and go. Order a couple things and share among your group. When those are done order a couple more. Repeat until full.
Beer: Come on. It’s Surly.
I’ve been known on occasion to make statements critical of Surly. But this place is freaking amazing.
Sommelier Leslee Miller of Amusee and Certified Cicerone® Michael Agnew of A Perfect Pint are bringing the popular libation bootcamp back – not just once, but twice a year!
Each session we promise to mix up the fun & education, so you can build upon your repertoire of delicious wine and beer knowledge. If you made it to our last series, come again! It’ll be different each time around.
The next session’s fun starts on October 21st and runs three consecutive Tuesdays through November 4th!
When: October 21st, 28th & November 4th. Class starts promptly at 6:30pm and run until 8:30pm.
Cost: $40 per class session or sign up for all three at once for just $100!
Oct 21st: Beer for wine lovers, Wine for beer lovers
Let’s agree to come together! Wine lovers will find much to love about beer and vice versa in this interactive class taught by Sommelier Leslee Miller and Cicerone Michael Agnew. From grape varietals to beer styles, you’ll discover the right beverage for your palate. Are you a Cabernet drinker? Let us show the beer that best matches the complex bold flavors of this grape. A Pilsner drinker? We’ll give you the grape alternative for this crisp, refreshing beer style.
Oct 28th: Why oaking matters
Toast, caramel, macaroon, pancakes and crème brûlée. You guessed it! These are all descriptions for the impact of oak on a libation. Elevate your senses in this creative ‘why oaking matters’ class with Cicerone Michael and Sommelier Leslee. Not all oak is the same. The wood’s subtle nuances vary by country of origin and level of toast. Explore those differences and more as we examine the effects of wood on your favorite drinks from grapes to grains!
Nov 4th: Festivus for the rest of us!
A joyous, holiday feast – what else? Sorry, Kramer won’t be there, but we will! Come learn the art of combining beer and wine with food as two of the Twin Cities’ most passionate food and libation instructors, Sommelier Leslee Miller & Cicerone Michael Agnew, pair their way through three genres of holiday celebrations. From a traditional turkey dinner, to a full Festivus layout (spaghetti & meatloaf), to a Hanukkah feast with latkes and jelly doughnuts, you’ll sample the wonderful variety of the holiday table and pick up some tips on the best beverage accompaniments.
Cicerone Michael Agnew & Sommelier Leslee Miller
In May of 2009, Certified Cicerone Michael Agnew of A Perfect Pint and Certified Sommelier Leslee Miller of Amusee teamed up for the first time to teach a beer, wine, and cheese class at Cooks of Crocus Hill. It turned out that the pairing of the two of them was as magical as the ones they created with the cheeses. Since that night their professional relationship has grown to include joint classes and private tasting events, food-service consulting that encompasses both beer and wine, and the highly successful, bi-annual Beer & Wine University. The teaching chemistry between them is so strong that a class alum once told them, “you two are more recognizable together than separate.”
Working together allows Michael and Leslee to speak to audiences they might not otherwise reach. During the course of an event even the most hardcore wine or beer people find at least one sample that makes them want to know more about the other side.
Sommelier Leslee Miller, recipe Chef Mike Shannon, and I have been teaming up to teach She Said:He Said beer/wine/food classes at Cooks of Crocus Hill since 2009. (Really? 2009? It doesn’t feel like it’s been that long.)We’ve built up a camaraderie and easy-going teaching style that has made our classes the most popular of the Cooks lineup. They always sell out – usually very quickly.
Our next beer/wine pair-off happens August 8th at the St. Paul location on Grand Avenue. You don’t want to miss this. Leslee and I are going head-to-head with thoughtfully selected beers and wines paired to four courses of Mike’s summer deliciousness. Check out this menu.
In the hierarchy of Minnesota beer festivals, clinic two stand out to me – Winterfest and All Pints North – both sponsored and organized by the Minnesota Craft Brewers Guild. Winterfest is an intimate affaire. Ticket sales are limited and the space is cozy, ampoule in contrast to the sprawling outdoor festivals that are the norm. It has an air of elegant sophistication. The brewers – all Guild members – bring the good stuff in an attempt to out-do each other.
All Pints North is held at the Bayfront Festival Park in Duluth. Despite the spacious outdoor setting and large attendance, viagra Bayfront Park with its bayside location and magnificent view of the iconic lift bridge give this festival an easy-going, relaxed feel. There is none of the hustle and bustle of the other fests.
All Pints North happens this Saturday, July 26th from 3 – 7 pm. Tickets are still available, although hotel rooms might be harder to come by.
As a beer educator, I like that the Guild values education at their festivals. They recognize that an educated consumer is a better consumer; that the enjoyment of craft beer increases with a little bit of knowledge. They also know that craft beer aficionados are eager to learn.
The Alliance for Beer Education (ABE) is a joint project of A Perfect Pint and the Better Beer Society dedicated to providing the highest-quality educational programing at Minnesota’s beer festivals. Collaborators Rob Shellman and Michael Agnew, both Certified Cicerones®, have a combined 11 years’ experience as beer educators. Their 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.
The Minnesota Craft Brewers Guild has partnered with ABE to provide the educational programming at this year’s All Pints North. We think we have put together a great lineup with some amazing guest speakers. Check it out!
Beer Barrel BBQ 3:30 – 4:00p Chef Tony Beran (Lake Ave Café) and Nate Beck (Natedogs)
Minnesota summers offer the perfect weather to fire up the grill. Why not make beer a part of your cookout? Join Chef Tony Beran of Lake Ave Cafe, as he showcases slow roasted pork shoulder smoked over Surly Pentagram staves, as well as a sour cherry Pentagram sauce to pair with. Nate Beck of Natedogs is loved among the beer community with his delicious dogs and mustards. He’ll guide you through the process of creating your own unique beer mustard. Join us for a delicious lesson in outdoor cooking with beer and building the best sauce.
Last month Duluth was named as Outside Magazine’s best outdoor city in America. Outdoor activity is central to the Duluth lifestyle. This session pays homage to that by exploring the potential and practicalities of enjoying beer in the backcountry. What’s allowed? What type of beer is best? Can beer be part of your campfire cooking? Come find out from adventure guide Jake Boyce and share your own stories about enjoying beer in the backcountry.
Homebrewing Berliner Weisse 4:50 – 5:20p Jeff Merriman (Northern Brewer/Certified Cicerone®) & Jace Marti (August Schell Brewing Co.)
One of the growing trends in American craft beer is the revival of nearly-extinct beer styles. Gose, Grätzer, Sahti, and Berliner Weisse have all seen a resurgence in the last few years. With a little bit of know-how you can make great versions of these beers at home. Jace Marti from August Schell Brewing Company shares the insights gained from creating the Noble Star series of Berliner Weisse style beers. Northern Brewer manager Jeff Merriman brings it home with the practical knowledge for backyard brewers.
Alongside craft beer, craft distilling is booming. And the two have turned out to be terrific partners with artisanal spiritmakers and small brewers teaming up in the production process. The popularity of beer cocktails shows that the final products work pretty well together, too. Find out how Bent Paddle Brewing and Vikre Distillery are partnering right here in Duluth and learn how to whip up a tasty treat from Red Herring cocktail whiz Heiko Edwardson.
In December 2010 I embarked on a journey to catalog every brewery in four states; Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, and Illinois. Three-and-a-half years, over 10,000 miles, 30 hotel rooms, countless road meals, and a whole lot of beer later, the job is complete.
I am thrilled to announce the publication by the University of Illinois Press of A Perfect Pint’s Beer Guide to the Heartland, a comprehensive compendium of brewing in the upper-Midwest. In it I profile 236 breweries, of which I actually visited over 210. On my visits I talked to brewers and owners, toured facilities, sampled beer, chatted up customers and tasted food to get a clear picture of the story behind each and every place.
Every profile includes the basic who-what-where, along with other information such as brewery size and maker, lists of beers, nearby attractions, amenities, and my personal notes on what made each place unique to me. I also give my personal pick for which beer to try from every brewery. It’s a great companion for beer travelers to the region.
In addition to the brewery profiles, three historical articles at the beginning chart the rise of the brewing giants after prohibition, tell the story of the Grain Belt brand, and show how old lagering caves are now being put to other uses. In the back is a glossary of beer terms.
The book is currently available at all the online booksellers as well as in major bookstores. If you want a signed copy, order it from my Perfect Pint Square Marketplace page. I’ll sign it and ship it off to you.
I’ve got a number of signing events schedules for the coming weeks.