Cabin Crushin’ Beverages

As the weather heats up and cabin life begins, we find ourselves craving drinks that are refreshing, lighter, and portable! Here is what we will be drinking this holiday weekend and this summer to keep cool! 

Cazadores Canned Margaritas - Hailey

Call me basic if you want, but I’ll drink a margarita any day. Cazadore’s 4-pack Canned Margaritas are perfect whether you’re camping, up at the cabin, or just hanging out at the beach. I’m a big fan of their Spicy Margaritas — they have a delicious jalapeno flavor without too much of a kick. Stick them on ice in the cooler and bring your fav coozie!

Junkyard Grandpa Bill's Pils 4pk Can - Bill

It’s hot!  I want Pilsners to drink. And this all Citra Hopped Pils has been my favorite for the last 2 months. We just stole more from the North Dakota allocation and even that’s almost gone!  
Easily one of my top picks of the year so far.  It’s everything I love about craft beer!

Itxas Harri Canned Rosé - Josh

One of my favorite rosés is now in a can! This dry, light, and fresh Basque rosé is everything I want when sitting near some body of water during this hot MN summers. The demand and availability of really good canned wine has exploded in the past few years and I couldn’t be happier about it! Grab a bottle can today!

Fever Tree Light Cucumber Tonic Water - Ryan

Ever wish someone would bottle the bracing shock of jumping off a rope swing into a cool river on a 95 degree day? They did, and it’s called Fever Tree Refreshingly Light Cucumber Tonic. I drink it on its own with some ice as a rejuvenating afternoon cooldown, but it of course makes a perfect partner to your favorite vodka or gin.

Minneapolis Cider Co. Orchard Blend - Melissa

My go-to Cabin Crusher is Orchard Blend from Minneapolis Cider Company. It is well balanced and refreshing. Its even fun to mix with orange juice for a cidermosa as a lower ABV brunch beverage. 

Ghia Non-alcoholic Aperitif - Karina

I’m riding the NO/LO bandwagon this summer. Balance is key! Ghia was my first love in this popular category. The ginger and bitter botanicals are great for digestion after too many brats and brownies, but it’s equally delicious in a low proof negroni (just add gin)!

Bell's Oberon - Aaron

If you’re looking to combat the hot summer sun, look no further than Bell’s Oberon. This delightful wheat ale is a perfect reward for mowing the lawn on a scorching day, and at 5.8% it’ll pack a punch!

Hi-Neo Chu Hi Yuzu Highball - Tom

YOU NEED TO TRY THIS! It’s seriously insane how declicious this is.

Highballs are a simple concept: base spirit, fruit juice, and sparkling water. This Japanese Highball is made from a shochu rice based spirit, yuzu fruit juice, and bubbly. Its crazy crushable refreshing patio drinker. I’ll have a few on the pontoon this weekend!

Escapada Vinho & Birrificio Tipopils - Stephen

I’m submitting two because I am an overachiever. 

This wine is best chilled! Mildly effervescent, citrus notes with grapefruit in the spotlight, 9.5%, and ridiculously refreshing! Pairs well with patios, docks, and perhaps a even a garden gazebo. 
 
Do ya like Pilsners? Do ya like herby earthy flavors with very mild bitterness? Do ya like Italian goods? You do? Excellent. I have the beer for you.  One of the OG Italian pilsners, you’ll be through your first one before you can say “Ciao Bella”

Heineken 0.0% & Superior Lemon Switchel - Tashi

We took a 12 pack of Heineken 0.0% cans canoeing and camping this past weekend and I was pleasantly surprised at how crushable they were, and the price didn’t disappoint either!  Light, refreshing, and honestly you can’t even tell it’s NA.  Not into beer?  I recommend Superior Lemon Switchel.  It will quench your thirst, keep you feeling refreshed, and has the same bubbly feel as a beer or seltzer.

Hamm's - Rob

Just because my answer to every ‘staff-pick’ blog is the same doesn’t make it any less true. And let’s be honest, there is only one right answer for a crushable cabin beverage, and that answer is Hamm’s. It has been said that Hamm’s is the most refreshing liquid ever. Plus, now that our cases of Hamm’s have the throwback packaging, they taste even better. 

Juneteenth: Remembrance and Reflection

“In cities across the country, people of all races, nationalities and religions are joining hands to truthfully acknowledge a period in our history that shaped and continues to influence our society today.” –juneteenth.com

Juneteenth is far from being a “new” commemorative holiday. It was first celebrated in 1865, but had to wait until just last year to become a federally recognized holiday. Established originally to commemorate the ending of slavery in the United States, today it stands as a day of remembrance and emphasizes education and achievement for Black Americans.

There’s plenty going on in Minneapolis and St. Paul to honor Juneteenth, so bring Dad and the family to a Minneapolis or St. Paul event to combine Father’s Day and Freedom Day into one epic Sunday! And at the end of all the fun (or in the middle of it), make your celebration libation count too: support local Black-owned businesses like Lovejoy’s Bloody Mary Mix, DuNord Distilling, or one of our particular favorites this summer: a beer collaboration between Arbeiter Brewing and Brewing Change Collective called Cool Jazz Cold IPA.

Cool Jazz is a cold IPA made with Jasmine rice and Azzaca, Chinook, and Zamba hops. Cold IPAs are a bit lighter and drier than a typical West Coast IPA, and the twist here is that they also use lager yeast, making this a “best of both worlds” IPA/lager style: it’s clean and light like a lager, but has enough hop flavors and aromas to pack it full of flavor. A great New School take on an Old School style!

The mission of Brewing Change Collaborative is to foster diversity, equity, and inclusion for people of color in the brewing and beverage industries through advocacy, outreach, and education. BCC has been doing incredible work in making the Minnesota brewing scene more diverse and inclusive since early 2019.

We’ve been fortunate to get to know the folks at BCC over the past two years and have partnered with them to provide entrepreneurial mentorship programming and project funding. We’re honored to be a part of the incredible work they’re doing in Minnesota and beyond, and we couldn’t be more excited for the big new changes to come for them.

We can’t think of a better way to spend this Sunday than engaging with your community with family and friends. Choose an event to go to, support local Black-owned businesses, and continue the conversation about diversity, inclusion, equity, and putting an end to racism.

“Sensitized to the conditions and experiences of others, only then can we make significant and lasting improvements in our society.”juneteenth.com

Don’t Sleep on Pale Ale

by Bennett

American pale ales are the footing beneath the foundation of American craft beer. And yet, they go mostly uncelebrated. Omnipresent, but lingering in the shadows of a well-focused spotlight on their higher gravity sibling, IPA (India Pale Ale). Pale ale, originally a vague blanket term used by 18th century English brewers, encompassed all top fermented ales that weren’t dark in color. Thankfully, the progress of beer has further delineated this category into distinct styles. 

Craft-brewed pale ales materialized in the ‘70s when American homebrewers and microbreweries combined English brewing knowledge with newfangled, expressive American hops. It was a pivotal era in our country’s history, filled with economic and political uncertainty, social activism and most importantly for brewers, individualism—a tenet of the craft beer ideology—focus on self reliance and the freedom of choice. This zeitgeist inspired early craft brewers to challenge mediocrity.

Sierra Nevada first expanded the minds of beer drinkers in 1980 when they introduced their now iconic Cascade-hopped Pale Ale. During a period of diminished choice for beer drinkers, it was quickly recognized by locals as a beacon of bitter hop flavor in the sea of macro-lager mundanity. A piney citrus aroma and bracing bitterness showcased the exciting potential for the new American hop varieties coming out of Yakima Valley. Along with Centennial and Columbus, Cascade became known as one of the three “C hops” that were so fundamental in the progress of American craft beer. These dual-purpose hops were great for bittering and aroma, and effused more intriguing characteristics than their European counterparts.

Over the years, ballooning interest in these flavorful American-hopped beers has led to a sort-of race to the top of hoppy extremes. Pale ales begat American IPAs, Imperial IPAs, Triple IPAs, and the all-popular hazy New England-style IPAs that we are so captivated by today. Though outnumbered by their bigger siblings, pale ales are making a comeback. The finest examples deliver equally exciting hop character and superior drinkability, perfect for the summer ahead. So let’s raise our glasses to the style that got us here!

One of the newer entries into our Market, Daisy Cutter is brewed in Chicago but west coast by nature. Dank and citrusy hops with a touch of tropical flare balance a light biscuit-y malt profile and dry, bitter finish.

Conveniently dubbed “a pale ale in an IPA world” by the people at Fair State, a perfectly suitable description for the topic of this blog. Brewed in collaboration with Asheville’s Burial Beer, this pale ale features the yet-to-be-named experimental HBC 630 hops, a proper nod to the advancements in hop breeding over the years. Candied fruit aromas with flavors of berry, peach and a snappy clean finish.

One of our new favorite pale ales at the store. This Citra and Citra Cryo-hopped hazy pale is fluffy soft on the palate with pulpy tropical fruit character and a gently bitter finish.

The progenitor of the style, the beer that made hops famous. It’s always a great beer to come back to. Perfect balance for a recipe that hasn’t changed since its inception 42 years ago. Pine, citrus and a clean pale malt profile for ultimate crushability.

You’re likely familiar with this cooler staple but let me remind you if not. False Pattern is brewed with a whole lotta oats thanks to their nifty mash filter, and hopped with bunches of Mosaic and Simcoe hops. Silky smooth body and juicy hop character have made this a Minnesota favorite.

Beer Style Highlight: The Oak, The Barrel, The Funky

by Kayla

Traditionally, brewers who wanted to make specialty wood aged beers, used oak casks and barrels to take their base beer and put a unique twist on it. Using things like a foeder (pronounced food-er), a larger vertical or horizontal oak barrel that beer can be aged or fermented in. It’s a simple way to infuse a level of oakiness in beer that’s less intense and achieved at a slower rate than barrel aging. Historically in Europe they used french oak, or cypress to make the foeders. Today in the US, they use American white oak with a blend depending on the preferred flavor outcome. Portage Brewing Company from Walker Minnesota collaborated with Bent Paddle Brewing from Duluth Minnesota to make a oak fermented Maibock called Tallest of Trees. They use traditional European Pilsner, Munich, Vienna and Carefa 3 Special malts from Weyermann® Czech Saaz, Hallertau Mittelfruh hops, house lager yeast and American white oak foeder. This combination gives the classic Maibock a unique twist. Tannins from the wood are balanced from the biscuit, toasted bready malts and the earthy, herbal, and slightly spicy notes from the hops, giving this beer a refreshing finish. 6.9% ABV in 16oz 4pks for $13.99

If the brewer wanted to incorporate a charred then, much like roasting malt it depends on the type of wood and how long it’s charred. Flavors of vanilla, caramel, butterscotch, coffee, ect will come through and those types of flavors are best used in barrels that contain alcohol, like wine, port, sherry, madeira, bourbon, rum or tequila. These types of barrels benefit from beers with a fuller body and higher alcohol that use malts having chocolate, roasty, coffee, toasted break with the addition of oxidation to enhance the levels of both the base beer and the barrel. Revolution Brewing from Chicago, Illinois makes an Imperial Oatmeal Stout aged for 1 year in American bourbon barrels named Deth’s Tar. The use of English malts in the beer brings flavors of vanilla, toasted coconut, and caramel candy for a full body but silky mouthfeel. At 14.8% this beer is almost too easy to drink during those cold spring days when we’re looking forward to summer coming. 12 oz can for $6.99

Inspired by Belgian wild fruited ales, like Flanders red, Oud Bruin, Gose or Berliner Weisse with fruit addition, modern US craft brewers are making their own interpretations. using wild ale yeasts and microorganisms like Lactobacillus, Pediococcus, and Brettanomyces. With the addition of fruit, herbs or spices it really helps bring uniqueness to the beer. Funk Factory Geuzeria in Madison Wisconsin makes a Blackberry Meerts fermented in french oak foeders with wild yeast. They take second runnings of a Lambic and use Pilsner malt, raw wheat, Saaz hops, using a turbid mash and a long boil before the foeder fermentation and finally, fermenting it on blackberries for 2 months before bottle conditioning. The beer has a brightness from the fruit, with a clean, dry finish that balances out the beer perfectly. This sour is 4.5% and comes in a 750ml bottle for $17.99

The Ultimate Easter-Passover Pairing Post

Ah, the inevitable Passover/Easter pairing post. What does go with Easter ham? What even is Kosher wine? Does the Pope sip in the woods? These and many more questions we’ll try to answer, while doing some very scientific, highly-researched, definitely not off-the-cuff opinion-based reporting on the best wines, spirits, and beers to pair with your holiday meal. To guide you through the morass, we’ve assembled two experts in everything related to springtime feasting:

Playing for the Jews, it’s Sam Weisberg — wine and spirits specialist, Slivovitz enthusiast, and former theater kid who definitely loved Passover the most out of all of the other holidays because of all the singing he got to do at the dinner table.


On Christ’s team, we’ve got Josh Timmerman — wine specialist, social media mogul, fan of cocktails with less than three ingredients, and that guy from church who built his own deck and always seems really friendly but you can never remember his name.


* A final disclosure; not all of the products we are going to recommend are certified Kosher or Kosher for Passover. If you keep strict kashrut, we do carry a small selection of dry Israeli wines which make that cut, plus the obligatory Manischewitz. Ok, let’s get going!!

ROUND ONE: WINE

Passover

Easter

Georgian wine has always made sense to me for Passover pairings. Maybe it’s the similarities between Georgian cuisine and the traditional Seder table mains (lots of spiced meat?) or maybe it’s just my made up sense of wines from the “Ancient World” being closer to what my ancestors might’ve had on their table. Either way, this savory, apricot-like amber wine is a knockout with a huge range of foods, especially chicken dishes.

This Israeli Cab is a great choice for those keeping strict kashrut, as it is both normal-Kosher and Kosher for Passover, but it also is a delicious wine in its own right. Produced on the slopes above the Sea of Galilee, it’s a fresher, lighter style of Cabernet than California drinkers might be used to. 

Nebbiolo, with its occasionally rusty color and heady aromas, seems like the perfect wine to use for a holiday that does a lot of (metaphorical!) conflating of blood and wine. For a Passover brisket, you’d be hard pressed to find a better pairing than Angelo Negro’s Roero, a killer deal for Piedmont Nebbiolo. If you need a bottle to bring to a religiously-mixed celebration, it’d probably go quite well with Easter ham, too.

This rose of Grenache is plush, ripe, and bursting with strawberry fruit. Its got enough weight to stand up to the heavy-hitters on the Easter table–ham, turkey, and the like–but it’s still fresh and light enough to give a definite summertime-is-here vibe. From an awesome producer in Central California, Cruess, this is a great domestic rose that would be the perfect way to start off your Sunday supper.

This unique white blend from Southern France is made by an organic producer called Maison Ventenac. Located in the middle-ground between Southern and Southwestern France, the winery works with an eclectic mix of grapes that go into highly unique blends. This Colombard-Chenin blend is one such example; yellow apple and subtle chamomile notes mingle here to create an absolutely delicious white that is bright, fresh, and full of simple joy. 

A great wine, from a great winemaker, from a great region, from a great vintage can be exceedingly difficult to find, especially less than $50. The Tondonia is an exceptional wine and has long been one of my favorites, period. Though it is over a decade old, it’s still unbelievably vibrant and vivacious. Its rustic dark cherry and plum notes play well with traditional Easter ham or lamb, but it pairs well with a shockingly wide range of dishes. 

ROUND TWO: SPIRITS

Passover

Easter

If you have any Eastern European heritage whatsoever, Jewish or not, slivovitz probably graced your holiday table at some point in history. A bracing distillate of plums, this clocks in at 50% ABV and makes you feel very well equipped to be “living in unprecedented times.” With its alluringly tasty almond-tinged flavor and surprisingly strong, burns-all-the-way-down texture, it’s straight-up Biblical. Jelinek, based in the Czech Republic, has long been known for its Kosher booze, and makes a sterling example.

I drink slivovitz neat, and recommend you do as well. However, it’s also got potential in a few different martini variations, and makes a nice highball. Most important, however, is that it’s consumed in very small glasses with very beloved people.

Although there isn’t a traditional liquor for Easter, the Empress 1908 Gin embodies the season well. It’s citrus, blossom, and ginger characteristics offer a modern take to the more traditional juniper-driven style of gin. The stunning purple-blue color is naturally derived from the Butterfly Pea Blossom, and when combined with citrus the gin changes color to a lovely lavender-pink. This blend of colors is reminiscent of dying easter eggs as a child (Who am I kidding? I still dye eggs). It’s the perfect ingredient to add a colorful (literally) take to a classic French 75 for your Easter lunch. Try like this:
  • 1 oz Empress 1908 Gin
  • 1/2 oz Lemon Juice 
  • Simple Syrup to taste (couple dashes)
  • 2 oz Sparkling wine (Flora Prosecco would be great)
Add gin, lemon juice and simple syrup to a cocktail shaker and shake well. Strain into Champagne flute and top with sparkling wine and a lemon twist. 

ROUND THREE: BEER?

Passover

Easter

+1 for Easter! Crisp, clean, with a pleasant hoppy bitterness, Fair State hit it out of the park on this one. Why would you need anything else??? 

Women in Beer

by Kayla

International Women’s day became recognized as a historical day in 1911, after over 15,000 women marched in New York demanding shorter working hours, better pay, and the right to vote. Clara Zetkin was the woman who inspired the creation of International Women’s day. It was at a conference in Copenhagen in 1910 where 100 women from 17 different countries voted unanimously to dedicate this day. It was first celebrated in Germany, Austria, Denmark, and Switzerland. The United Nations first celebrated theirs in 1975. International Women’s Day continues to be a great opportunity to both celebrate our successes and raise awareness to the work that still needs ot be done to combat gender inequality.

In the world of beer, women have historically been associated with brewing long before men even stepped foot in a brewhouse! Artifacts and documents have been found that show women have been brewing as far back or further as Cleopatra in the Egyptian era. I myself have helped brew three beers from three of Minnesota’s best breweries alongwide a handful of folks from Witch Hunt Minneapolis, which is a 501(c)(3) non-profit to help people with marginalized genders and queer folks in the beer industry learn about beer. In addition, the iconic Pink Boots Society has been around since 2007, inspiring and encouraging women and non-binary individuals in the fermented and alcoholic beverage industry to advance their careers through education.

To celebrate International Women’s Day, I wanted to highlight some women-owned breweries we carry at France 44. Currently, we carry three women owned and founded breweries: Finnegans Brew Co., Urban Growler Brewing Company, and Utepils Brewing.

Jacquie Berglund is the CEO of Finnegans Brew co. and founder of Finnegans SBC, the world’s first brewery to donate 100% of their profits to fund fresh produce to those in need. She’s raised awareness about food security in communities all across the Midwest, awareness about local hunger issues, earning her prominent accolades over the years for all her passion and efforts. Finnegans opened its first brewery and taproom in 2018 in East Town Minneapolis creating all sorts of fun beers! Currently in our store we have a few Finnegans products but their Flagship Irish Amber comes in 6pk cans.

Urban Growler Brewing Company opened up in July 2014 by two women, Deb and Jill. It’s the first women owned microbrewery in Minnesota that has a mission to bring people together through beer. Deb is the master brewer and Jill runs the marketing, taproom and events. They traded their careers in corporate America and sales to pursue their passions in beer. However, 12 banks denied them funding for their brewery, so they traveled all over the country visiting tap rooms, getting jobs in the industry, and did a ton of work. They eventually raised enough money to make Urban Growler Brewing Company a reality! Currently in our store we carry their iconic Cowbell Cream Ale in 4pk 16oz cans.

Utepils was founded by Deb Justesen who at age 8 who gave her mom a mothers day card that iconically says “Mothers day is almost here; so it must be time to have a beer.” Ever since then, she’s jumped right into brewery ownership, being the lead creative person. We carry a few Utepils beers, but today they released a beer as a part of the Nevertheless Series, celebrating women in Minnesota Brewing called In All Places. It’s a 5.6% ABV Brown Ale with a very important message: “A woman’s place is in the brewhouse”.

Drie Fonteinen

by Bennett

The complex, mystical nature of traditional Belgian lambic justifies its reputation as one of the more befuddling beer styles in existence. Born in the gently sloping farmlands of Payottenland and the Senne River valley that surround Brussels, Belgium, lambic beer is a rarity that offers a lense into the past. Unlike most beer styles whose fermentations are metabolized by a cultured yeast strain, lambic is fermented spontaneously by the ambient microflora around the brewery. Lambic brewers and blenders strive to harness the unpredictable, unique nature of wild fermentation to craft astonishingly complex, beautiful beers.

Spontaneously fermented beer has existed in this region since before Julius Caesar’s advancement into Northern Gaul over two millennia ago, when the campaigning Romans drank beer made from locally-grown wheat that surely underwent a non-controlled fermentation. After all, early brewers had no knowledge of the microbiology behind fermentation. Flip back to almost two millennia later, Louis Pasteur and Emil Christian Hansen were just making their breakthrough discoveries of fermentation and pure bred yeast cultures in the late 19th century.

Today, a vast majority of breweries have adopted the advancements of science, using pure cultured yeast for a controlled, predictable end product. And why not? The concept of making a living off years long, souring fermentations in expensive barrels, sometimes with whole hand-picked fruit, all to potentially end in disaster is a frightening prospect. I’d guess these lambic bottlers would say, “I’ll risk it for a biscuit.”

Of the less than 15 remaining brewers and blenders of lambic, Drie Fonteinen from Beersel, Belgium is highly revered. Established in 1953, the Dutch “Three Fountains” is an ode to the three hand pumps that once served lambic at the original 19th century inn and lambic blending business on the property. Anton and Raymonde Debelder built a respected lambic blendery and restaurant over the next three decades, eventually handing the reins to their sons Armand and Guido.

Until 1998, Drie Fonteinen operated strictly in lambic blending—purchasing lambic from the surrounding breweries to age, blend and bottle at their own discretion. Armand finally took a leap of faith and installed a leased brewhouse, becoming the newest lambic brewery in almost eighty years. Drie Fonteinen’s most distinguished lambics are now produced fully in-house under new successors to the Debelders, but they still source from other local lambic breweries. You can typically determine if the beer is 100% Drie Fonteinen or a blend from other breweries by the color of the bottle—brown for proprietary lambic, green for blends. 

Making traditional lambic at Drie Fonteinen is a much different process than your average beer. A grist of pale malt and raw, unmalted wheat is used to make a turbid mash, producing a low conversion, cloudy wort with abundant levels of dextrin, proteins and complex sugars—perfect food for wild yeasts and bacteria. 15 year aged Challenger and Hallertauer hops are added to the boil, lending their antimicrobial, preservative qualities but minimal bitterness or discernable hop character. After a lengthy boil, the lambic is transferred to the coolship—a large, open, shallow vessel where the wort cools quickly and begins inoculation by the local non-cultured yeasts and bacteria. Old French oak red wine barrels are then filled with the fermenting lambic and moved to age in a climate-controlled environment. The lambic will age for one to three years in the barrel. During this time, the beer will undergo a series of overlapping fermentations by competing microorganisms that metabolize the nutrients in the wort. In the case of fruit lambics, ripe whole fruit will be macerated with a younger lambic until the desired characteristics have been achieved. 

When barrels are ready, it is time for blending and bottling. Blending lambic is more art than science, something done with experienced instinct. Younger lambics, which offer freshness and the residual sugar necessary for bottle conditioning, are blended with the matured lambic, which brings drying complexity. The best lambics are funambulist efforts—high-risk, high-reward beers that display a sure-footed balance of lactic tang and animalic funk.

Drie Fonteinen lambics are a curious indulgence that every adventurous beer drinker or natural wine lover should consider when that “risk it for a biscuit” mood strikes.


 

Drie Fonteinen Oude Geuze 750mL – Lighthouse Canton

 

Drie Fonteinen Oude Geuze – $14.99/375ml

A traditional oude geuze blend of one-, two, and three-year-old lambic sourced from Boon and Drie Fonteinen. This masterfully-made geuze is a great entry point into the world of lambic. 

 

3 fonteinen Frambozenlambik 2018 ass 68 | Belgian Whalez

Drie Fonteinen Frambozenlambik – $36.99/375ml

This traditional raspberry lambic uses whole, hand-picked raspberries to macerate for four months with a young lambic. Each bottlecontains over half a cup of raspberries. The raspberries add a gentle pink hue and a bright fruitiness that opens in the glass.

 

 

3 Fonteinen Schaarbeekse Kriek 75cl | Beer MerchantsDrie Fonteinen Schaarbeekse Kriek – $69.99/750ml

Schaarbeeks are a tart cherry variety indigenous to the area northwest of Brussels. The fruit has a long history in Belgium but is seldom grown, the diminishing number of cherry trees falling victim to suburban sprawl. Drie Fonteinen crowd sources these special cherries from local family orchards. The handpicked fruit is macerated for 14 months in the barrel with one- and two-year-old lambic. Each bottle contains over a cup of these Schaarbeek cherries. 100% Schaarbeek Kriek is considered a limited specialty from lambic producers.

 

3 Fonteinen Oude Geuze Cuvée Armand & Gaston – CraftShack - Buy craft beer  online.Drie Fonteinen Cuvée Armand & Gaston – $99.99/1.5L Magnum or $34.99/750ml

This cuvée, named after the son and father who have led Drie Fonteinen throughout its history,  is a traditional oude geuze made from a blend of one-, two- and three-year-old lambic all brewed in-house. No two bottlings are alike, as there are many variables in the blending process.

The Beer with a Minnesotan Soul

by Kayla Tyler

Lagern: German “to store.”

When I think about lagers, my mind instantly buzzes. I geek out about the process it had to go through, with a cooler fermentation than an ale at a comfortable Minnesota temperature of 42-55℉. Lagers ferment slower than ales and because of that, the flavor profiles are cleaner and crisper. Lagers originated in Bavaria, Germany around the 16th century. They were brewed either in caves or cellars dug into the limestone hillsides. Much like us hardy Minnesotans, the yeast in these cellars adapted to the cold, creating a unique strain which would later be named Saccharomyces Pastorianus.

By 1810, lagers made it to North America by way of German immigrants following the Civil War. Some of the top brands of that time are still around today like Pabst, Schlitz and Busch. They adapted their own lager versions with what North America had growing, and the rest was history!

I find lagering to be a form of beer maturation very similar to my energy during the cold winter months: slow, methodical, and near freezing. It’s like lagers and I are basically the same! Lagers are ingredient-driven: the traditional focus of lagers are primarily on the malt, along with the activity of the yeast when it’s fermenting. If the yeast activity is too high, you end up with fruity esters in your beer. The old saying, “Slow and steady wins the race” is really what makes a great lager.

One misconception of Lagers is that they are all the same color. That is simply not true! Lagers can be a variety of colors, from black to pale straw. The color and most of the flavor in beer depends on the malt, ranging from crackery, bready, toasty, and roasted to displaying gentle bitterness from the noble hops. The fermentation characteristics help take out the fruitiness and leaves you with a classic clean, crisp taste. There are a few lagers that can also be heavy, like Doppelbocks, Marzenbier, or even smoky and meaty like a Rauchbier.

 

Next time you stop at France 44, be sure to try these selected local varieties with different color and flavor profiles that I love in Lagers:

Arbeiter and Niko Tonks from Fairstate Collaborative Vienna Lager | $9.49/750ml crowler | Arbeiter has been brewing some of my recent favorite lagers and ales and Fairstate is currently our top selling brewery in the store, so it only made sense to pick this Vienna Lager. At a modest 4.8% ABV it is super crushable–a dark, gold-colored beer with a caramelly, sweet toast, cookie characteristic balanced by hops.

Utepils Helles Lager | $9.99/4pk cans | Utepils is another brewery that is also doing European-style brewing, so this Munich-style lager at 5.1% ABV is both rich and light with a hint of caramel and a soft finish. Also super crushable, this beer is sold in 16oz 4pks for $9.99 and 12oz 12pks for $16.99!

Schell’s Bock | $9.99/6pk cans | Schell’s has been around in Minnesota for a very long time, before the 1860s. August Schell co-founded this brewery and it has been knocking out solid beer since. This German-style dark lager is best consumed in the wintertime at 6.5% ABV with a rich flavor and robust, full-bodied malt character. The color of this hefty lager is dark amber to almost black.

Doubling Down on Oats

by Bennett

A fresh influx of (double!) oatmeal stouts into our walk-in beer cooler has been a pleasant beer-related surprise in recent months. Ever since the dramatic rise in popularity of New England-style IPAs, hard seltzers and the like, original American craft beer styles like oatmeal stouts have often been pushed aside, subjugated into dormancy, awaiting their hopeful return. Locally, at least, it seems as though this style is arising from its deep, silky slumber.

Oatmeal stouts are the nurturing matriarchal figure of the dark beer world — authoritative, reassuring, gentle. Their smooth, rich character enables them to both stand tall on their own, but also make a great base beer for more experimental stout styles. Oats, which make up 10-20% of the grist, are flush with gummy beta-glucans, soluble lipids and proteins that enhance viscosity and texture. When coupled with roasted malt, they also suggest tasty notes of cookies, nuts and that subtle oat-y sweetness.

Maybe it was just savvy marketing, but the century old, pre-war oatmeal stouts of England were deemed to have nutritious, healthful benefits. While that is up for debate, there is little doubt that these velvety, mellow stouts will satisfy your thirst on these cold, wintry nights.

The Locals

Modist Oatrich Oatmeal Double Stout - $13.99/4pk
Portage Deep Distortion Double Oatmeal Stout - $14.99/4pk
Insight Fathom Double Oat Stout - $13.49/4pk

The Classics

Samuel Smith Oatmeal Stout - $10.49/4pk
Founders Breakfast Stout - $9.99/4pk

For the Sober-Curious

by Tashi

The world of non-alcoholic beverages has grown over the past few years, and we are happy to carry plenty of options for anyone trying to cut out or cut back their alcohol intake.  We carry NA options all year long, but there is a movement called Dry January that was started in the UK to encourage people to reassess their relationship with alcohol by abstaining from drinking for a month.  Even though we are a liquor store, we love this idea and have put together a sampler kit of some of our favorite products to get you started!  Our staff can also help you find other NA beer, liquor, or wine that fits your vibe, as our selection has grown considerably over the past year.  We assure that you can still be the life of the party without the hangover!

Our Non-Alcoholic Sampler Kit includes:

  • Lagunitas Hop Water – Crisp, zingy, and hoppily refreshing. This sparkling beverage is made using everything Lagunitas knows about hops. Chock-full of Citra, Equinox, and Centennial hops, for a big splash of flavor that’s surprisingly fruity.
  • TÖST ROSÉ – TÖST ROSÉ is an all-natural, delicious, dry, sparkling non-alcoholic beverage with white tea, Ginger and Elderberry. This is the store favorite when it comes to NA alternatives to sparkling wine.
  • Athletic Brewing Run Wild IPA – Run Wild is the ultimate sessionable IPA for craft beer lovers. Brewed with a blend of five Northwest hops, it has an approachable bitterness to balance the specialty malt body.
  • Ghia Spritz – Ghia is a non-alcoholic apéritif packed with only pure, natural extracts. Potent plants. Heady herbals. Blithe botanicals. The Spritz includes yuzu, rosemary extract, and elderflower to temper down the natural bitterness, but still taste complex.
  • Hella Bitters and Soda – Hella’s Bitters & Soda is a premium sparkling beverage that gets its smart refreshing flavor from the Gentian root in the South of France. Spritz Aromatic is bittersweet with notes of clove, allspice, bitter root and orange peel.

Each kit includes two bottles or cans of each product, so you can share with friends!  

MORE NON-ALCOHOLIC PICKS FROM OUR STAFF

KARINA Studio Null Sparkling Rosé – This is the non-alcoholic wine I’ve always hoped for. So many N/A wines fall far short of actually tasting like wine and end up being sugary, unbalanced, and tasting like Kool-Aid. Studio Null makes a traditional alcoholic wine, distills out the alcohol to less than 0.5% ABV, and manages to keep all the great flavors, aromas, and acidity that I love so much in dry sparkling rosé. Made from Silvaner and Portugieser (two super cool German grapes), this pink bubbly will have you checking the label several times to convince yourself it’s not alcoholic–it’s that well-made!

DYLAN Jinx Tea

I love Jinx tea, It’s my favorite. 

The Raspberry Lemonade is yummy. 

I always try to savor it. 

Only the best for my tummy.

They have other flavors.

BILL Lovejoy’s Thai Basil Bloody Mary Mix – I really enjoy Lovejoy’s Thai Basil Bloody Mary Mix over Ice with a wedge of lemon and lime. It’s such a great twist on the classic Bloody Mary mix and it’s super easy just to skip the vodka and enjoy it without any alcohol. Plus it’s locally owned and made.

TASHI Untitled Art Juicy IPA – My favorite NA beverage is Untitled Art’s Juicy IPA.  The flavor is super on point, you can’t even tell it doesn’t contain alcohol it’s so well done.  I regularly grab a six pack because it really just hits the spot, even my partner loves it and requests I bring it home for us.  If you like hazy IPAs, you will love this!

BENNETT France 44 Spring Water – Deserving of grand cru classification, this water is sourced from the purest natural springs in the Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin appellation. These bountiful springs are naturally filtered by a roughly half-billion-year-old glacial formation, lending notes of vibrant purity and the distinct absence of terroir. Studies have shown that consuming fresh spring water is beneficial to your health!

(I also think Untitled Art is making some excellent N/A beer, especially the Italian Pils and Juicy IPA).

JOSH Zera Sparkling Chardonnay – This is such a fun and easy-going sparkling NA wine. It is fruit forward with a touch of sweetness. It tastes like those candy peach rings I had as a kid. And to top it all off, its organic! 

JAY Athletic Free Wave Hazy IPA – Athletic Brewing has been a pioneer in the non-alcoholic beer scene and is one of our most popular NA brands. The Free Wave Hazy IPA doesn’t disappoint. It’s juicy, citrusy and delicious. 

KAYLA Untitled Art Italian Pils – My favorite NA Beer is the Untitled Art Italian Pilsner.  it’s loaded with Hallertau Mittekfruh and Strata hops, making it a bit more hoppier than your standard Pilsner, but being less than 1% ABV, you still feel like you’re drinking an actual beer. 

MELISSA Töst Sparkling Cocktail – My favorite dry drink is Töst. As an avid iced tea drinker, I was driven to try this when it came into the store and fell in love with it! With a great balance of tea and flavors that give it a dry, yet layered mouthfeel. It also looks awesome in a fancy glass! With it being tea based, I shared it with my teenage daughters and they enjoy it as well, so it can be fun for the whole family.