Monday, September 18, 2006


As some of you know, I recently changed jobs. The interim at the Legislature is painfully slow, especially when you work for a retiring member, and hence it left me a few spare minutes to work on the blog. With the new gig, I'm crazy-busy (thankfully) and that's the reason for the slow down in posts. It will return to its normal pace soon, I promise. Until then, have a beer and watch one of the many political debates happening these days.


Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Oh goody! Munster here I come!

When you think of Indiana, what usually comes to mind? Corn? Hoosiers? Maybe Dan Quayle? But not beer. Not at least until you visit Munster. Which brings me to the second phase of my research.

Case Study Two: Munster
A recent much-anticipated trip to Munster, Indiana (really an ex-urb of Chicago), which the main purpose of was to visit my sister and her family, the quantity of quality beer to be had was literally mind-numbing. Granted, this was in large part because my brother-in-law shares in and rivals my love of water, hops, yeast and grains. I tried no less than a dozen new beers, many of them rarities and exclusive to Munster. I had my first introduction to New Holland Brewing, which coincidentally just arrived in Minnesota. I puckered up trying some wild beer for the first time (didn't know the stuff existed). And of course I made the pilgrimage to Three Floyds Brewing Company.

New Holland Brewing, as best I tell, doesn't make a bad beer. Of course it makes sense being from Michigan. Their stout, amber and IPA are all beers that make you stop and notice what's in the bottle. I tried a couple and brought home a 22 oz. bomber of Dragon's Milk Ale, barrel-aged and weighing in at 9% ABV, only to realize the liquor stores at home had just began carrying New Holland. Guess I'll have to drink it now.

Speaking of "big beers," (nee high ABV) they were a large part my time in northwest Indiana. If you're feeling adventurous and whimsical, find a bottle of Sanctification from Russian River Brewing Company in Santa Rosa, CA (good luck). Imagine taking controlled bacteria and putting it in your beer, but it turns out fantastically unusual. There's a whole line of "wild beers," made by adding wild yeast like Brettanomyces, Pediococcus or Lactobacillus. This particular one tasted kinda like fermented lemon mixed with a pinot grigio or similar sweet wine. Not horrible, but not something I would drink three or four bottles of, or even an entire one, by myself. A nice summer apperitif. I guess a lot of beers from Belgian strive for this effect, but add fruit like raspberries or peaches. Yummier.

One of the best breweries in the country--that's right, best--is Three Floyd's. They don't distribute to Minnesota anymore, but a short trip to Chicone's in Hudson, WI will hook you up. But screw Hudson, I went to the source. Dinner and drinks at the brew pub enabled me to have three different pints and sample five more. From the Belgian Drunk Monk to the lovely Kolsch Calumet Queen to the solid pale ale Alpha King, Three Floyds makes every style unique and better than its competition. I took home the Rabbid Rabbit, a 9% saison brewed with chamomile and rock candy, easily one of the best beers I've ever had.

But one of the highlights of the trip to Munster (besides spending time with my nephew) was BIL and R hooking me up with another bottle of Dark Lord, the Most Sought After Bottle of Beer in the Country. A crazy maybe 13% or 15% dark creamy burnt caramel chocolate coffee stout brewed in very small batches--like it's only available in bottles at the brewery and sells out in one day. Mad mad props to BIL and R. New Years baby.

Three Floyds is undergoing some staff changes, but hopefully they can maintain the level of excellence that is looked forward to--and expected--from them.

All the outlining Chicago cities have a similar feel, but Munster--besides being in a red state--is a pretty nice town. Of course it's made better by its proximity to the city and a family named Floyd. Study results: 9.5/10. Woulda been a 10, but c'mon, what's a 10 anymore?