Thursday, June 16, 2011

Drink It In

The staff here at Fraters Libertas would like to officially welcome all those in town to attend this weekend's RightOnline conference. Brian "Saint Paul" Ward and I will be attending the activities tomorrow. The lineup of speakers is impressive (although I’m not sure who this John Hinderaker fellow is) as are the breakout session topics. Brian was a little disappointed as he was hoping for a specific session on "Avoiding Libel: Pushing The Limits Without Getting Sued," but I'm sure he'll find more than enough to keep him occupied.

Visitors have probably already noticed that Minnesota is a hot bed of political activity at the moment. In addition to having two candidates vying for the 2012 GOP presidential nomination (both of whom will speak at the conference), we also have our own state budget crisis which is rapidly approaching denouement with an imminent government shutdown. If you’ve been reading the local papers or watching the local news on television (two activities you really should avoid if at all possible), you’ve probably heard dire warnings that once the benevolent, munificent hand of state government is withdrawn from our lives, chaos will ensue and that the streets of Minneapolis will shortly resemble those of Leningrad circa January 1942 (dibs on the carcasses of the riverfront carriage horses). So enjoy the city while you can.

Part of that enjoyment of course involves experiencing the best in local beers. No matter where you choose to drink, it’s important to know what local breweries have to offer.

Summit is the brewery that really lead the beer revival here in Minnesota starting in 1986. Their beers are available throughout the Twin Cities and their Extra Pale Ale is their flagship offering. Almost everything that Summit produces is good and some of the selections in their Unchained Series are excellent.

Surly is a local brewery that has attracted national and international attention for their big, bold beers. They’re the rock stars of the local scene and if you like beer with lots of flavor, you’ll love Surly. Hoppy delicious Furious is probably their most available offering, but you really can’t go wrong with anything that bears the Surly name.

Lift Bridge, Flat Earth, Harriet, and Fulton are all local brewers who came on the scene in recent years. They might be a little harder to find than Summit or Surly, but each of them produces good quality beers of interesting varieties. Brau Brothers and Lake Superior are outstate (outside the Twin Cities) breweries who also fall under this category. Might be hard to find them on tap in Minneapolis or Saint Paul, but worth it if you do.

If you’re not much of a craft fan, but want to try something different from the macros you can find anywhere, give Schell’s a try. They’re a New Ulm, Minnesota brewer with a large regional presence. They make some more flavorful beers along with milder offerings with broader appeal. Schell’s also now brews Grain Belt, which was once an iconic (look for the sign by the river) and Minneapolis brewer. I find the Grain Belt Premium to be a little on the sweet side. Nordeast is an easy going drinkable beer whose name harkens back to Grain Belt’s rich history in the city.

We hope you all enjoy your stay here, have a great time at the conference, and get a chance to sample the local beer scene early and often.