Dave Hoops, For the News Tribune
Now that there are over 6,000 breweries in the U.S. and more than 140 in Minnesota, the trip to the store to pick up a six-pack has changed considerably. During a recent discussion with some folks about beers and styles, some great points came up about the vast selections of beers now available at liquor stores. "I just can't keep up with the brands." "There are so many choices!" "How do I know what's really good?" All great points, and seriously, nothing to complain about! So let's begin.
Got a Q for the brewer? Dave Hoops, veteran brewer and beer judge, has for years offered up pairing tips, festival how-tos, gift guides and trend alerts in his regular column in the News Tribune's Taste section. Now he's opening the floor to the hobbyists. Do you have a beer-related question for Hoops? Send a note to email@example.com . ===
It’s the most wonderful time of the year. I am a huge fan of this season, and as I was asked to provide some gift ideas for the craft beer lover on your list so I’ll get right to it. Breweries all over the Twin Ports and the nation have been upping their game on beer swag since the craft beer movement swept the nation. In the last 10 years growth has been exponential, with beer fans being offered new and cool stuff to buy and share.
I may not be the first to say it: Happy Holidays everybody. The sentiment is sincere as this is my favorite time of the year. I look forward to enjoying the rare and special releases many breweries make for the winter holidays. I hope to write this article celebrating holiday beers for many years. Each new holiday season provides new beers, new players, new excitement, and of course, some great classics. 2017 has been another banner year of growth in the small brewery segment and the beers continue to improve, delight and evolve. Let's look at some local offerings:
Attending or hosting a beer themed dinner at a restaurant or at home always makes me excited. The prospect of a special meal prepared with food courses that complement beers which are individually paired with each plate is a truly awesome gastronomic experience. Beer has many components that complement food. It’s made with barley, which adds sweetness; hops that provide bitterness to balance the malt sweetness; and yeast that provides bready and fruity flavors.
Two of the most enjoyed beverages in the world are certainly beer and coffee. This week, I enlisted help to talk about how to join these two great beverages. I asked coffee expert Eric Faust of Duluth Coffee Co. about the coffee and beer partnership. Here's Faust's take:
As the leaves are starting to turn, folks will head north to check out the colors. I thought it would be fun to mention the many great Minnesota breweries that are flourishing or about to open north of the Twin Ports. Bemidji Brewing Co., Bemidji The four-year-old brewery has been a very popular and successful endeavor. The beers have been well-received locally and their sour beer program has quickly made them a go-to brewery statewide. They've also received national attention with their awards from the Great American Beer Festival.
IPA. Every engaged beer drinker has heard or seen these initials whether it's on a billboard, in ads, or on the beer list at your favorite taproom or bar. IPA stands for India Pale Ale.
I love wheat beers. I have as long as I can remember. I'm pretty sure my first taste of a deliciously banana, clovey hefeweizen was Franziskaner from Spaten Brewery in Munich, Germany. In the late '80s when I first tried it, Spaten was one of the few imports I could find in Minnesota. I was impressed with the drinkability and thirst-quenching attributes of this previously unknown beer, and quickly started researching the style. I learned that in Germany a hefeweizen must contain at least 50 percent wheat and be warm fermented with top-fermenting yeast.
Beer has a bit of a journey to make to end up in your stomach. In fact, it has to pass some pretty rigorous and protective barricades — our sensory shield — before it's allowed in. The senses are the messengers to the control room we call the brain, and choosing a specific glass for different styles of beer can greatly enhance the sensory experience.