Saturday, June 26, 2010

The Great Minnesota Beer Get Together

As you may or may not know, the 2010 National Homebrewers Conference was in Minneapolis (technically Bloomington) last month. Homebrewing wasn't really on my radar when tickets went on sale for all the events so the seminars and everything else really didn't mean too much to me.

What did mean a ton to me though, was that a lot of my out-of-town friends were going to be in the Twin Cities for the conference and I was going to get to meet some of them for the first time.

Twitter was something that started slow for me, something I did just to see what it was all about. It also coincided with the explosion of my craft beer hobby and I soon found out that the two went hand in hand. I tweet about plenty more than beer but the majority of my interaction is about beer and most of it is with friends I met because of beer.

My biggest problem about social media is that too many people use it as a substitute for real friends. "I have 258 friends on Facebook" "Oh yeah? How many would meet you at the bar for a beer?" "Ummmmmm" Exactly.

I understand it's not always feasible to have a beer with a Twitter (or Facebook or whatever) "friend" when you live in Minneapolis and said friend lives in Texas. But that's what made last week so cool, I got to meet several Twitter friends in person for the first time and got to drink beer with them and friends that I met on Twitter but have had the fortune to hang out with before.

Here's the quick recap. Melanie from Atlanta (aka @mstrachan on the Twitter) was the first in town, she arrived with her friend Eric on Sunday night. I had volleyball league that night though so we didn't meet up till Monday night when we had a few beers at Town Hall. Josh (aka @joshareed on the Twitter) and his wife Elizabeth joined Melanie, Eric, Allison, Marie and me for a pretty fun get-to-know-ya Monday night.

Wednesday afternoon is when it all took off. Brett (aka @BrettGlenna on the Twitter) got tickets for a bunch of us to go to the Twins game that night and I decided to invite everybody over to Isenberg's Neighborhood Bar that afternoon so I could showcase some of Minnesota's finest beers before the game.

Josh was first to show up and eventually the rest of the crew showed up - Brett with Frank (@fnbarrett on the Twitter), Maggie (@SudsyMaggie on the Twitter) and Norm (@NormskiBrewer on the Twitter) in tow and Allison with Melanie and Eric. Norm and Maggie are from Washington and Frank is from Iowa (but don't hold that against him).

I spent the days leading up to Wednesday assembling as many Minnesota beers as I could find and the final count ended up being around forty available for us to try. We got through just over two dozen of them (give or take) before it was time to leave for the Twins game. Everybody got a taste of beer ranging from Schell's to Brau Brothers to Summit to Surly to Lake Superior to Lift Bridge. Not everybody tried every beer, but everybody got their fair share of a taste of Minnesota.

It was also the largest gathering of "Getting Tanked with Frank" panel members in history. OK, it was the first gathering in the short history of the hottest new podcast on the internet but that's what made it so significant. I had met Frank once before and Brett several times but this was our first group gathering (minus Mar, Ben & Laz).

The Getting Tanked with Frank logo was also born that day:

Allison and I met up with Frank and his wife and kids and with Brett and his wife and Maggie down at Target Field where we got to hang with Norm for a bit too. It was a beautiful evening and we got to see a fantastic game from Scott Baker, 12 strikeouts in a 2-1 Twins victory.

The next night, I got off work and stopped by home to grab some of the beers that we didn't get to the night before and headed down to Bloomington were the gang was hanging out (sans Frank & family and Melanie & Friend who headed home).

I brought some of the beers that we didn't get time to try from the night before including Surly Furious, Surly Abrasive Ale and a growler of Town Hall's Masala Mama. Didn't get a chance to stay too long since everybody had to return to the fun of the conference.

The next night Allison and I again headed down to the hotel after work, this time with a growler of Barley John's Wild Brunette and the just-released-that-very-day Lift Bridge Minnesota Tan and Brau Brothers Rubus (an imperial blackberry porter). Also included for the west coasters was a bottle of Bells Hopslam, past its prime but still worth trying for those who never have before.

After having dinner at the hotel with the gang, Allison and I left them to their fun again and headed back home since we were leaving for New Ulm the next morning.

While I was in New Ulm, I wanted to try a Schell's Hefeweizen on tap since it was in season and I had a hot tip that it was at the B&L Bar downtown. I ordered a hefe for me and a Schell's Stout for Allison and posted on Twitter that we were there. Not long after, I felt a pat on my back and saw yet another Twitter connection sit down on the barstool next to me. It was David Berg from Schell's (aka @schellbrewer on the Twitter).

Dave and I have been conversing on Twitter for awhile and I've wanted to meet up with him for awhile so it was great to finally have the chance to get to do that. We had a couple beers and shot the shit for awhile and had a great time. If my parents weren't waiting for their Happy Joe's chicken, I have the feeling we could have had a few more than we did. At least we finally got to have that first one and I look forward to having more in the near future.

The next morning after making a Father's Day breakfast for my parents, we took off for the Cities to pick up Norm & Maggie from the hotel so we could head to the St Paul Summer Beer Festival. Allison dropped us off and we soon met up with the rest of the crew and began sampling.

I was a little disappointed that some breweries only showed up with one or two beers and that some only showed up with regular stuff that I could drink whenever I wanted but I did find enough to sample about 24 different beers.

I was surprised that I didn't run into more people that I knew but I did run into a couple of very important cogs in the Twin Cities beer community, Dan and Bryan from the Four Firkins. Always good to see those guys, especially outside of work.

Eventually the day was wrapping up and Maggie, Norm and I had to figure out what we wanted for our last beer before Allison picked us up so that we could get Maggie and Norm to the airport on time.

We decided that it was fitting to end the day with a Surly. I hadn't been there all day since the program only listed beers that were already in my fridge at home. Maggie went up to grab a sample for both of us because I was busy BS'ing again and returned with the surprise of the day - Surly Brown Eye. Oops, I meant Surly IMPERIAL Brown Eye (sorry Todd!). I forgot the exact style that it was but it was a great way to end the day because it was easily my favorite beer of the day.

Thus ended an epic week of beer drinking with awesome people. Epic is a term that gets tossed around too much these days but I can't think of a word to better describe it. I was sad to see Norm and Maggie go, I had such a great time hanging out with them. I felt a lot better though because I knew we'd get to drink again hopefully very soon!

*Editor's note - Yeah, I'm a couple weeks late posting this son of a bitch. Sorry about that. I got writer's block for the events of the last day. OK, that's a lie. I just got lazy and then forgot about it. But better late then never. Now go drink a beer that was made close to where sleep at night.

1 comment:

  1. Glad you finally posted this! I have great memories of this trip, I'll have to come back so you can show me around your fine city, maybe next spring.