Friday, February 15, 2013

Beer, the Book, and the Bad River

Sorry for the belated post this week; I just returned from four days in hell, also known as Los Angeles.  Specifically I was in Anaheim at the gigantic soulless convention center for a trade show. Pretty much everything that I encountered was either aggravating, depressing, or fake,  other than my industry buddies, most of whom I look forward to meeting every year at this event.  Because they are my buddies, micro brewed beer is sought out and tested relentlessly.  Even the antiseptic convention center had a couple of micros along with the Budmiller, but the earnest business folk in their starched shirts with the company logos avoided the beer stand for fear that customers and potential customers would think they were having fun at this event.  The good beer pickings were few and far between however, with the exception of the sublime dry hopped, bottle conditioned IPA in the photo.  That beer deprived situation in Anaheim is a far cry from the vibrant beer scene here in Northeast Minneapolis.

A new brewpub actually opened up while I was out in freeway hell, an item forwarded to me by our crack marketing director, MsHotNSpicy.  612 Brewing opened up two blocks from where we first homesteaded when we emigrated across the border from Wisconsin back in 1978.  They  have an intriguing 'session style IPA', a naming ploy brewers use to hide the fact that they actually brewed an excellent bitter or ESB (Extra Special Bitter).  Indeed Brewing, another newcomer, is only about a three wood away from 612.  They have the delectable Day Tripper, which is also available in cans.  The real way to enjoy Day Tripper though, is from the cask, double dry hopped, at the brewery.  As I type this at 6am I get thirsty just thinking about it.  Dangerous Man opened up about 8 blocks west of Indeed.  I am behind in my brewpub testing but Dangerous Man ran out of their one thousand growlers in about a week and a half.  If you have a growler to lend it's a free pint for you until their next shipment comes in. Outside Northeast is Harriet Brewing, a fine establishment off Hiawatha Ave and Northbound Smokehouse with their home smoked meats and an excellent IPA.  Both of those have been visited but we have not hit Steel Toe in St Louis Park or Badger in Minnetonka.  We did visit Excelsior Brewing and had excellent cask ale there as well.  Badger uses a ploy a bit different than the 'session IPA' trick for their excellent bitter; it's called MSB, which stands for Minnesota Special Bitter.  So why have all these brewpubs cropped up on the last year or so?  Passage of the 'Surly Bill' or more properly the repeal of the special interest focused law which prohibited brewers from selling their own beer on their own premises.  This did zero to protect the consumer, but it protected distributors quite nicely, the guys who warehouse, store, distribute, and mark up the cost of the beer a few percent in the process.  Most of these new breweries have a rotation of food trucks that stop by in the afternoon.  This is another pheomenom that was jump started by the relaxing or repeal of City of Minneapolis ordinances designed to protect the consumer from eating great food on the city sidewalks.  While Minnesota has these two fine examples of legislating away rules which ultimately screw the citizenry, Wisconsin continues to plod relentlessly in the opposite direction.

I won't go deeply into the iron mining bill, that's for another post/tirade.  Certain Wisconsin interests seem determined to bend over backwards to let Goegebic Taconite build a mine that scientific evidence strongly suggests will destroy the Bad River watershed which flows into Lake Superior.  It will take a few years for the damage to occur so the bill has been written (by GTAC is the story) to absolve GATC of any responsibility before the leaching and contamination reaches full force.  This year the Bad River Watershed Association, an organization that won Lake Superior Magazine's 2012 Achievement Award, will be exhibiting at Canoecopia in the lobby area.  Their goal is not to be pro or anti mining; it is to point out possible threats to the watershed that they are named after, a river that flows through the reservation inhabited by the Bad River Band of the Lake Superior Chippewa. The Bad and Kakagon sloughs are home to one of the most fertile and productive wild rice beds in the world .  Needless to say, healthy wild rice will really hate mining runoff.  More to follow on both the progress of the mining bill and the Canoecopia appearance, but sources have indicated that Lake is the Boss notables such as Podman and the inimitable GurneyGranny will be manning the booth, as will Yours Truly.  We might even be able to recruit the VoiceOfReason, a woman that you are compelled to pay attention to.  She is after all, the Voice of Reason.  A membership is twenty five bucks, a small price to help protect Gitchee Gumee, the lake we all love.  I have a scheme in the back of my mind for a Canoecopia membership bonus to sweeten the pot but I need to make sure it's legal.........We hope to meet lots of Lake Superior paddlers at the booth.

To complete the trifecta suggested in the post title, a bunch of us will be skiing the Book Across the Bay, a ski race/tour that benefits the public library.  The course has minimal elevation beacuse it cuts across Chequamagon Bay on our favorite lake, departing from what's left of  the ore dock in Ashland. The finish is a large and inviting beer tent in Washburn with both chili and excellent live music to accompany the South Shore beers that will be on tap. I am certain that discussion of the mining bill and the Canoecopia appearance will be foremost at the tent, fueled no doubt by South Shore Nut Brown Ale.  Unlike Anaheim there will be no fake snow in sight.

(I'd like to credit the Ansel quote and poster but it was sent to me by a friend, no idea of the source.  The Port Brewing High Tide bottle shot on the other hand, was all me.)

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