support Sunday growler sales – now!

As many of you know, the proposed bill that would allow for Sunday growler sales in Minnesota has stalled as a result of opposition by the Teamsters Union.

The bill was actually on the brink of passing with successful bipartisan support and support of the MLBA (Minnesota Licensed Beverage Association). At the last minute the union that represents drivers, chauffeurs, and warehouse workers came out against it.Cambridge growlers

Growler sales depend on foot traffic from consumers. Growlers are not warehoused or delivered, so why the opposition? As Badger Colish, Brewmaster at Canal Park Brewing Company states, “ We are desperately trying to understand why a DFL-sponsored bill with bipartisan support is being held up by DFL who sponsored it.”Canal Park growler

The Teamsters argue that allowing Sunday growler sales would result in potential changes to their labor contracts, which seems like a giant non sequitur.

For small breweries and brewpubs, growler sales are crucial. “We bare the burdens of operational costs 7 days a week but one of our key avenues of revenue generation, growler sales, is impeded by 1/7th,” says Colish.

Just as in the case of general liquor sales in Minnesota, revenue is being lost to Wisconsin, especially for brewpubs in Duluth, where Superior is just across a bridge.

If this bill does not pass, which seems to be a significant possibility, it significantly undercuts business from alcohol tourism statewide. Sunday is a huge travel day, one on which people would otherwise purchase beer to take home.

This has happened to me personally, and I know it has happened to many of you.Dissent growlers

Dustin Brau has also been vocal on this issue, indicating how important growler sales are for his business: “For Brau Brothers, as an out-state brewery, this bill is important because it helps us promote and sell our beer to those traveling on the weekend, many of whom are not regularly able to visit.  The bill truly, and with minimal effort, helps develop beer tourism which in tandem with other attractions in the area, can only assist in drawing more people to Southwest Minnesota.”

Excelsior Growler

Please consider contacting your congresspeople and urging them to pass the bill. Check out who represents you and leave a message – the representatives are currently on break.

Minnesotans are very outspoken on this issue and the bill has received considerable support. But this last-minute opposition is very likely to prevent the legislation from passing. Please don’t leave this to other people, take your own action! For more information, see Tevlin’s Star Tribune article, and MNbeer.

Freehouse growlers




Denver / beer city USA



Several cities deserve consideration when it comes to their place in the American craft beer industry. Portland and Bend, OR have been brewing beer since long before it was cool (how very hipster) and Asheville, NC, has recently grown exponentially and is currently on the brink of housing expansion sites for multiple major craft breweries. California could nominate several metro areas including San Diego. The Twin Cities area has experienced major growth in the past two years, too, with Minnesota being one of the top states for brewery growth.



But few would even dare argue over whether Denver is deserving of a top spot among American brewing hotbeds, especially if you consider the surrounding area. Denver’s first brewery, Wynkoop, opened in 1988, and established breweries such as Avery and New Belgium boast consistent growth annually.

According to the Denver Post, 217 breweries now exist in Colorado after an incredible boom in 2013. Denver contains roughly 45, depending on how you define the metro area.

I can’t promise that I will make it to even a respectable fraction of these places, but I am excited to announce that in May, I’m going to make a solid effort!



I mean, How long can one write about beer and take themselves seriously without visiting Denver?

So this is my familiar call for suggestions, advice, and general banter about Denver! What should I drink? Where should I stroll? And what do you want to hear about?

I will visit one month from now and I am taking my sweet time. I will be staying via, and hopefully finding a sweet bike to rent. Potential plans include a jaunt to Boulder or Longmont. Under consideration is Fort Collins, the birthplace of the beloved Odell.

In the Colorado area and want to drink with me? Give me a shout.

post-game at thirsty pagan

Well, it is true. The Bitches Brew Crew closed down the Gitchee Gumee Brewfest. In fact, I got yelled at by a security officer, which doesn’t often happen. That’s the sure sign of a good time, people!

Pagan GitcheeDuring the festival, Kat and I were treated to an in-depth discussion about harvesting wild yeast as a part of Thirsty Pagan Brewing’s sour program.

This means that, inevitably, we were “those people” – taking up space at the booth just to put the brewer on the spot. Well, that isn’t entirely true. It was benevolent curiosity and genuine interest (and we got out of everyone’s way).

Head brewer Allyson Rolph was appointed her position at Thirsty Pagan in November of 2012. The brewpub, in need of a serious revival, has been a Superior staple since the 90′s and was purchased by new owners in 2006.Thirsty Pagan dining


Allyson, who is certified and ranked through the Beer Judge Certification Program and is a Cicerone-certified beer server, is one of only two female head brewers in Wisconsin. (source: Duluth New Tribune)

But all those acronyms and titles don’t capture what Allyson has truly given to the brewing community.

We asked her, in the middle of thousands of people, about how her sour was developed and she was more than willing – enthusiastic, actually – to share with us. She described a painstaking process of trial and error, explaining that she explores the fruit trees of her own (and her neighbors’) back yards, placing specimens into wort to see what develops.

“Not everything works out”, she explains. Referring to an experiment with cherry trees, she says, “two out of my three attempts were decent, drinkable. And I developed them. The third was extremely phenolic.”

Yeah, well, two outta three ain’t bad, I’m told.

T Pagan pizzaWhen we arrived to the brewpub via taxi, the place was packed. Live music was in full swing and it was overwhelmingly obvious that the place has a regular following, despite whatever beer festival happened to be in town.

In fact, I don’t think I have ever been so struck by a sense of homegrown, authentic pride and support of any restaurant in my life.

Some folks who were pouring at the festival came over to our table to check in, suggesting that we stick around and see the brewhouse, and they were incredibly genuine.

I can't explain how much I love this photo. I didn't pay enough attention when I took it.

I can’t explain how much I love this photo. I didn’t pay enough attention when I took it.

After we wrapped up our flight which was full of some fantastic beer, including the Spring Thaw Stout, brewed in Parti-gyle fashion, we met up with Allyson who drew us across the sacred threshold, into her space.

TP tour 2I am not a numbers person, I hate to admit. I don’t mean that I am not good at math, what I mean is that I leave the nitty-gritty numbers game to my colleagues. While they were busy  discussing barrel systems and hydrometer readings, I was busy getting wrapped up in the feel of the place. This is one reason while I will never be a real brewer, at least not a very good one.

Allyson and her assistant/intern Jared showed us through the stainless steel, answering many of our questions and allowing us to explore (even to touch things we shouldn’t…Shari).

All the improvements that this generation of Thirsty Pagan owners, brewers, and employees has made are incredible. The old, tiny, system is now used for test batches, and although the place still feels like the best parts of a laboratory, the whole operation is much more streamlined, allowing for Allyson to meet the restaurant’s demands more efficiently.

Thirsty Pagan barrel roomWhat I really hung onto from this tour was our trip down to the barrel room and experimentation labyrinth. It was such a privilidge to discuss the intricacies on brewing while standing in a dark, damp cellar.

Thirsty Pagan takes a fairly laissez-faire approach to barrel aging and souring. The brewers often use partially-filled kegs or leftover beer from events as a canvas for harvested yeast. They store the beer in barrels, pins, or firkins and simply see what happens.

TP tour 1One of these sour experiments was at Gtichee Gumee and it was hands-down one of the top beers at the festival after having been aged for over a year.

All of my thanks to Allyson, Jared, and the Thirsty Pagan for allowing us to sort of run wild inside the brewery. Thanks for answering all of our questions and for sharing your passion. Keep brewing fantastic beer!