Cold-Brewed

You have seen the commercials: a vendor shouting “ice cold beer, here” while navigating through the football stadium; two arctic explorers abseiling into a crevasse to chip an ice cold can of beer from the glacier, only to return it to the man waiting by the portable cooler at a tailgate; a frozen train of beer careening through snow-capped mountains to deliver refreshment. The voice actor bellows in with some nonsensical phrase like “cold-brewed the hard way” or “brewed with the purest water from melted icebergs.” Even if statements like these hold little barley-water, the marketers have done their job. Because what many beer consumers want is crisp, quenching, and ice cold.

While there are certainly occasions for beers of the variety mentioned above, I’ve got some good news to share. Not all lager beer needs to be consumed at near-freezing temperatures to taste acceptable. In fact, most classic styles of lagers should be enjoyed cold, but not ice cold. The colder a beverage is served, the harder it is for your gustatory system to perceive its true flavor. And most craft lagers have much flavor to offer!

So what makes a lager? The advertisements give you part of the picture. Lager beer is fermented at a cooler temperature than ales, then cold-conditioned or “lagered” for an extended period of time. The metabolic activity of lager yeast is much slower, but results in a more complete fermentation. Higher attenuation, or a greater percentage of sugars consumed by the yeast, leads to a drier, “crisper” beer. Because lager yeast imparts minimal characteristics into a beer, it is the quality and balance of malt and hops that is stage-center. There is nothing to hide behind in lager brewing, which further elevates my reverence when I find a quality example.

Lagers can come in a variety of styles and strengths: from the ultra-light, crisp, adjunct-laden macro lagers, to hop-accentuated pilsners, to smoke-infused rauchbiers, to the big, malty doppelbocks dubbed “liquid bread”. After sampling a variety of styles you will find the category has more to offer than at first glance. Many are even perfect for cold weather consumption, considering we just were blessed by Minnesota’s first major snowfall. So if you’re looking for something “cold-brewed”, consider a few of our favorite examples listed below:

Modist Soft Minute Single Malt Foeder-Aged Pilsner – $11.99/4pk Cans

Modist has been on a roll with its foeder-aged lager program, producing some of my favorite “crispy bois” in recent memory. Soft Minute is brewed with 100% malted wheat, a feat only accomplished by the brewery’s mash filter, leading to a pillow-y soft mouthfeel. It’s hopped with Triple Pearl and Citra hops for a delicate floral, peppery citrus note. The beer is finished in an egg-shaped oak foeder for a bit of structure on the palate.

Fair State Pils – $9.49/4pk Cans

This is head brewer Niko Tonks’ “desert island beer”, and I might have to agree. This brisk German-style pilsner has a grassy nose from Hallertau Mittelfruh hops, a dry quenching palate, and a surprisingly bitter finish that begs another sip. Yes, it’s available all year-round, but it’s a beer that the staff always keep coming back to.

Ayinger Jahrhundert Bier – $3.49/500ml Bottle

Brewed in celebration of Ayinger’s 100th anniversary, Jahrhundert Bier is a sparkling export-style lager worthy of the acclaim. Floral, honeyed aromas with an earthy, malt-driven palate and a spicy hop note on the finish. Extremely balanced and quaffable.

Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier Marzen – $4.99/500ml

A beer that I think everyone must try in their lifetime, please take a chance on it! The original smoked beer from Bamberg, Germany is unlike anything else in the beer world. Its smokiness is imparted from smoking the malt over beechwood logs, offering aromas of campfire and smoked bacon. Do not be deterred upon first sip, as with each progressive glug the smoke becomes intertwined with layered bready malt notes. Drinking this beer brings you back in time.

Augustiner Brau Maximator Doppelbock – $15.99/6pk

This ruby-hued doppelbock is an excellent choice for cold, wintry days by the fire. Big and malty with aromas of toffee, plums and raisins. Malty expressions of brown bread and a bit of chocolate lead to a vinous, warming finish with extended notes of dark fruits.

Beer Cooler Picks

For the beer staff these days, the only constant has been change. On any given week we are likely to receive north of 50 new items into our cooler space. While the logistical challenges have become more daunting, the benefit is that we are now able to carry even more of the world’s finest beers. With an overwhelming list of new brews to consider each time you shop, it is important to acknowledge that you’ll never be able to try them all, and that’s ok. It is important to us, however, that we can assist you in discovering beers that you’ll truly enjoy each time you leave our doors. You already know that we have a top-notch selection of the freshest hazy IPAs, but here are some other gems worth your attention right now:

Indeed Pistachio Cream Ale — $9.99/4pk Cans 

Yes, it works. Softly sweet, nutty malt notes with a creamy body.

Utepils Receptional Festbier — $8.99/4pk Cans 

This golden festbier has a wonderful biscuit-y malt character and smooth, dry finish.

Bad Weather Tippin’ It Down Earl Grey Tea ESB — $9.99/6pk Cans 

Spicy, floral tea notes envelop a chewy malt character and an herbal hop finish.

Drastic Measures Humble Mumble — $15.99/4pk Cans 

A milk stout brewed with lactose sugar and crushed Oreos. So delicious. Need we say more?

Oliphant Spooky Squishy Sour Ale — $9.99/2pk Cans 

It’s fall in a can. Tart apple with a sprinkle of vanilla and spice.

Ology Resolved Enigma West Coast-Style IPA — $16.99/4pk Cans 

Dry, light body from pils malt and a beautiful hop bouquet from Citra, Mosaic and Simcoe hops.

Black Stack Side of Ranch Lager — $8.99/4pk Cans 

It’s a beer made for pizza, what’s not to like? Totally gulp-able and delicious.

Backyard Beers

We talk a lot about the weather here in Minnesota, it’s a go-to icebreaker that frequently segues into another Midwestern topic like the goin’ up nort’, fishing on da boat, or those darn mosquitos. And I just have to say, “It sure is a hot one, eh?” The beer staff have been taking refuge in the walk-in cooler where the temperature is cold but the atmosphere is warm and cozy. Approaching what looks to be a real steamy 4th of July weekend, we hope you and yours can find a nice comfy spot to hang out and crack a few crispy cold ones by the grill. Our local breweries have you covered with some of the finest summery brews to keep you refreshed over the holiday. Have a happy and safe-distanced 4th everyone.

ABLE OL’ TRUSTY LIGHT BEER — $12.99/12pk | “A light beer for drinking” accurately sums up the character of this 12 pack of liquid pounders, which comes equipped with a nice sturdy handle for lugging refreshment to the backyard, beach, boat, or wherever vacation takes you (socially distanced of course). Smooth and easy 100% malt base with a hint of hop fruitiness.

FAIR STATE / MODERN TIMES CRANKIN’ FOAMERS LAGER — $15.99/12pk | The brainchild of Minneapolis’ own Fair State Brewing Cooperative and San Diego’s Modern Times Beer. This “Slammin’ Lager” goes down easy like a macro beer but with more developed malt character and a prickly, quenching hop bitterness.

BLACK STACK FUGAZI ITALIAN-STYLE PILSNER — $8.99/4pk | Black Stack has gathered a wide following for their weekly drops of hazy IPAs and double IPAs, but this brewery has more than a few tricks up its sleeve. This Italian-style Pilsner—a relative of the German-style Pilsner—is refreshingly dry with a bright, hoppy finish from all Czech Kazbek dry-hopping.

SURLY HEAT SLAYER KÖLSCH-STYLE ALE — $8.99/6pk | The name says it all. Heat Slayer slices through the stickiness of Minnesota’s summers with ease. A style of beer native to Köln, Germany, Kölsch beer is a hybridized style—top-fermented with ale yeast then cold-conditioned like a lager. Heat Slayer has a well-attenuated bright bubble and clean, easy finish.

COVID-19’s the worst, but here’s how you can help make it a little better.

Every one of us knows someone who’s been laid off, lost hours, or lost their entire job due to COVID-19. Maybe you’re one of those people. Our friends, family members, neighbors, and other fellow small businesses have been severely affected, and there’s no telling how long these hard times will linger.

These businesses, institutions, and restaurants need our help if they are to survive this pandemic. They’re vital to the life of our communities and neighborhoods, and we need them around at the end of all this. There are plenty of ways to help support them, and we encourage you to continually check this post for updated information as we learn about the best avenues to contribute to.

Thank you, in advance, for your partnership through all of this. We’re forever grateful for your patronage and support, and are proud to be a part of this incredible community. We’re better together (especially when we #stayathome)!

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A New & Improved France 44 Experience

We always say that the one constant at France 44 is change. After twelve years on the same platform, we’ve made the decision to switch to a new, cloud-based platform. This switch will happen on April 20th. We’re excited to update our point of sales and membership systems, and we can’t wait to show you what we’ve got planned. But what does this mean for you, our customers?

Here’s a quick synopsis of the biggest changes for you:

 

  1. Your Club 44 points and rewards will be converted into our new system. With the new platform, you will identify yourself on a touchscreen by entering your phone number. One of the benefits of this new system is that YOU will be able to see and redeem your own points and rewards at the cash register.
  2. Returns will be much easier for all sales conducted in the new system, since all the sales will be attached to your account and refunds will go automatically back to the credit card you used for the original sale.
  3. The France 44 mobile app will be replaced with a new, integrated rewards tool. Unfortunately, this new tool does not currently have the ability to show you your detailed purchase history. We are working with our new provider to get purchase history details added to future releases of the product. But FEAR NOT! We will still be able to see your purchase history at the service desk, so we can always look back to see what items you bought.
  4. Any of our customers who have credit cards on file with us will have to update them through our new system, since we are unable to see any of the stored card information in either system. The way that this will be done is via a special “onboarding” email that will be sent to affected customers. Consequently, it is VERY IMPORTANT that all club members make sure their email and phone numbers are up to date in our current system. You can do this through your mobile app, if you have the current version, talk to any one of us at the service desk, or email us at hello@france44.com.
  5. We will be able to sell tickets to our classes through our website and our cash registers. This will be a big improvement over our current system.

 

We know that there will be some hiccups in the process and we thank you in advance for your patience as we make this necessary transition to a new computer system. Please know that we will do everything in our power to make this as seamless a process for you as possible.

Cheers to new and improved France 44 experiences in 2020!

Old-World Beer, New-School Cans

Thanks to a few dedicated importers, a recent surge of shiny, fresh cans of old world beer styles have been pouring onto our shelves from overseas. Long considered a drawback to the distinctive brews of Europe have been the exclusively-available large, glass cork-and-cage bottles that are typically sold at premium prices. What is one to do if you don’t want to down a whole 750ml bottle in an evening? Thankfully, the calls for consumer-friendly formats have been answered. Some of the finest imports are hitting shelves in four packs of 12 or 16 oz. cans for your enjoyment. Browse some of our favorite new products below.

Image result for reissdorf kölsch

Reissdorf Kölsch — $12.99/4pk 16oz Cans

The ales of Köln (Cologne), Germany are amongst the most pure and delightfully-refreshing in the world. Kölsch, the local pale, top-fermented beer, is in-fact name-protected as an appellation under federal law. All imitations brewed outside the city should be donned “kölsch-style.” Reissdorf Kölsch is top-fermented but undergoes a month of cold-conditioning, giving it a lager-like crispness and delicate profile. Slightly malty with faint fruitiness and a soft, dry palate.

Glazen Toren Saison D’Erpe Mere — $13.99/4pk 12oz Cans

Farmhouse ales were first brewed as provision ales for the farm workers in Wallonia, the French-speaking region of Belgium. While the category has multiple sub-styles, together they all feature a spicy, fruity yeast-driven nose and a well-carbonated, dry palate. The flagship offering of Glazen Toren, this saison has bright, yeasty lemony citrus notes with a hint of coriander and grassy hoppiness. Dry and lightly tart on the finish.

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Praga Premium Pilsner — $7.99/4pk 16oz Cans

As birthplace of the pilsner style, the Czech Republic has a storied brewing tradition and standard for quality. What separates a Czech-style pilsner from the rest? Soft artesian water, which lends an undeniable smoothness, and locally-sourced Saaz hops, which impart an herbal, tangy finish. Praga Pils has a supple nutty, bready maltiness and a gentle spicy, herbal hop note.

Image result for Schneider Weisse Tap 6 Mein Aventinus Weizen Doppelbock

Schneider Weisse Tap 6 Mein Aventinus Weizen Doppelbock — $15.99/4pk 16oz Cans

Weissebier, a historical family of brews once reserved for royalty and those in higher social classes, almost bordered extinction during the peak of pilsner popularity. It was the Schneider family that played a significant role in propping up this style during the tougher years. Now that demand has returned, Schneider Weissebiers are considered a benchmark in the category. Aventinus, their wheat doppelbock, is a hearty, warming beer that boasts notes of sweet, bready malt, raisins, banana, caramel and clove. Rich, yet smooth and quaffable.

 

Make it a double

…IPA, that is.

The seemingly annual tradition lives on. February has low-key become the seasonal month of Double IPA releases. It’s probably because Midwesterners are starting to get sick of winter by now, and need an extra kick in their glass. Whatever the reason, our beer cooler is packed to the gills with Double IPAs and it’s in your best interest to come buy some. Take a gander at some of the best we have to offer:

Lupulin/Surly Operation CoHoperation Double IPA — $15.99/4pk Cans

A collaboration between two local hop-stalwarts, this edition of CoHoperation features fruit cocktail hop aromas from Citra, Sultana, and Lotus hops and a thick, chewy, sweet-ish malt profile to back it up.

Pryes Above The Canopy Hazy Double IPA — $15.99/4pk Cans

Double dry-hopped with Mosaic, Samba, and Amarillo hops, Above the Canopy wafts tropical fruit aromas and a little hint of that resin-y, green green character.

Courtesy of Modist Brewing Co

Modist Future Pixels DDH Double IPA — $17.99/4pk Cans

You betcha’, this one is double dry-hopped too! Galaxy, Strata, and Sultana hops join forces to create a futuristically delicious hazy double.

Courtesy of Toppling Goliath

Toppling Goliath Supa’ Sumo Double IPA — $17.99/4pk Cans

This Citra and Mosaic-hopped double IPA will pile drive your taste buds and then sit on them. Juicy pineapple and orange citrus notes with a heavy load of bitterness.

Bell’s Hopslam Double IPA — $16.99/6pk Cans

The beer that likely started this whole February Double IPA thing. First brewed in 2004, Hopslam has been the benchmark of this category for well over a decade. Brewed with six different hops and a big dollop of honey for a floral, fruity, sweet and bitter nirvana.

Courtesy of Three Floyds

Three Floyds Arctic Panzer Wolf Imperial IPA — $13.99/4pk

As the awesome yet frightening label might suggest, Arctic Panzer Wolf is here to rip apart your palate with a massive 100 IBUs. Certainly an old-school take on the style, it boasts piney citrus hop notes with a rich malty core and lingering bitterness.

Slightly-Kind-Of-Dry (depending on the day) January

New year, new you! Hey, you really crushed it in 2019—you accomplished some goals, got a few projects done, hopefully treated yourself here and there. But 2020 brings you a fresh set of downs and you have resolved to make the most of them. Perhaps you will finally save enough to take that trip you’ve been planning; maybe you’re choosing to eat more vegetables and less cookies; you might even be choosing to cut back a bit on your adult beverage consumption—especially in the month of January. We totally respect that.

If you are trying to trim back on drinking without completely giving up your favorite liquid luxuries, we have a guilt-free suggestion for you: Low-alcohol, low-calorie craft beer! An appropriately-timed wave of these beers have landed in the Twin Cities, offering a sudsy solution to those who want to start the year off on the right foot. Check out some of our favorite recent arrivals below.

Fair State Dry January Dry-Hopped IPA — $9.99/4pk Cans

Accomplish your resolutions without complete abstinence from your favorite barley-based beverages. This session-able IPA rocks flavor without knocking you over. Tangerine-like citrus hop notes play atop a crisp, cracker-y malt profile with a lingering oily bitterness. 3.5% ABV. 105 Calories.

Odell Good Behavior IPA — $9.99/6pk Cans

This crushable IPA features everything you love about juicy IPAs but tightens a little slimmer at the waist. Fuzzy peach and mango aromas lead to a fresh, zesty citrus palate and pillow-y carbonation. Ooh that’s smooth. 4.0% ABV. 110 Calories.

Able Blk Wlf Stout — $9.99/4pk Cans

Blk Wlf is meant to confuse. It combines elements from multiple other stout varieties—Irish, American, oatmeal, and milk—into one dark but very easy-drinking “session” stout. Fresh coffee and cocoa notes on the nose, with flavors of bitter chocolate, nuts and a hint of caramel on the palate. 3.7% ABV. 111 Calories.

Sufferfest Repeat Kolsch-Style Ale — $9.99/6pk Cans

Concocted with bee pollen to add a honeyed floral aroma. Repeat Kolsch-style ale has grassy hop aromas with a bread-like maltiness. Hints of citrus and an herbal hop bite round out the balanced finish. 3.5% ABV. 95 Calories.

Lagunitas Hoppy Refresher — $5.49/4pk

The product that is a category unto itself. Lagunitas Hoppy Refresher has been a recent favorite of staff and customers alike. It’s an IPA-inspired refreshment with no alcohol, no calories, and no carbs. Citra, Equinox and Centennial hops that have been modified by a hint of brewer’s yeast will trick your nose into thinking that you’re about to drink an IPA. The palate is bright, fresh and invigorating. Try adding a dropper of Modist and Stigma’s collaboration CBD Dream Oil ($59.99/500mg bottle) for a relaxing way to recharge after a long day. 0.0% ABV. 0 Calories.

Our Booze-olutions for 2020

As 2019 ends and 2020 begins, all of us at France 44 have begun reflecting on the past year. Two of our wine staff, Josh and Sam, earned their Level 3 WSET certification. We won a fancy award from the Growler Mag’s 2019 Kind of a Big Deal Reader’s Choice for best bottle shop. And our store turned 60! First off, yes, we do moisturize for great skin. Second, while most stores would be looking at retirement come 65, we are looking at how we can make the next 60 years of serving you even better than the first six decades.

Believing in exploring new territory, discovering new libations to enjoy, and always growing in our knowledge of beer, wines, and spirits, we asked all our staff what subjects and areas we want to pursue in the coming year. Some are in jest, some are of a more serious air, but when it’s all said and done we have a committed staff dedicated to learning more to provide you with better service. Here are the 2020 France 44 resolutions:

Adam | “I am exploring more domestic wines, specifically in Washington and New York. There are a lot of exciting wine happenings outside of California in America, so I am going to dedicate time this year to dig deeper into these wine regions.

Bennett | “In 2020, I want to revisit and expand my knowledge of the Old World beer styles that laid the foundation for modern craft beer. I also plan to continue educational pursuits in the wine and spirits side of our business.”

Sarah | “All things Madeira.”

Tom | “I want to learn more about vermouth, sherry, and port; essentially, fortified wines. Additionally, there are a lot of unique agave spirits coming to market, so this is an area I am excited to explore come 2020. Also, Tommy Bahama makes a bourbon. I might need a new job if Tommy Bahama is now making bourbon instead of shirts.”

Mike | “I am going to drink more white wines, but specifically find food pairings that work well with whites and expand my palate and tastes.”

Dustin | “I spent a lot of 2019 drinking beer, so I am going to go back to wine for 2020.”

Karina | “My New Years Wine Resolution is to get people to drink more sparkling wine, and to get used to the idea of using it as a great food pairing wine—not just for celebrations or special occasions!”

Dylan | “Apparently there is now a Tommy Bahama bourbon. I need to figure out why this is allowed to exist. And whether I want to exist in a world where $80 Hawaiian shirt companies sell $100 bourbon.”

Sam | “I really want to see more of American wines, but also learn more about (and drink more) rum.”

Bill | “My New Year’s Resolution is to get past my hatred of natural wines. But this resolution will fall apart by January, just like natural wine. (Too truthful?)”

Rob | “I’m drinking more crispy bois. More crisp and clean lagers in 2020. That’s it.”

Melissa | “I am going to be continuing my cider education and representing France 44 at CiderCon 2020.

Josh | “Who says you can’t pop Champagne on a Tuesday, just because? I want to drink more sparkling wines through the year without special occasion.”

Chaz | “Honestly, there’s so much more for me to learn. But really, I just want to get a new Tommy Bahama shirt and drink their $100 bourbon in my Tommy Bahama shirt. I think after 24 years of searching, I have finally found my place in this world.”

So, the drink is in your decanter. What will you drink more of in 2020?

Give the Gift of Education

Ahh, the sweet scent of pine needles in the air, the choking smog on 44th Street from the idling SUVs, the sounds of children laughing from Santa-impersonators and wine clerks crying from large product shipments—it’s the holidays at France 44! And, although this blog has been chock-full of amazing alcoholic beverages you can purchase for your holiday gifts, did you know that France 44 offers a whole range of non-bottle-shaped gifts for 2020? New classes have just been posted on Dojour, and there’s never been a better time to buy your friend, family, or fiancée an entertaining evening of education in our wine classroom.

Extended Enological Education!

Do you have a friend who raved about their experience in our “Wine 101” class? Send them to “Wine 102” with our 3-part “World of Wine” series, featuring an in-depth look at the wines of Spain, Italy, and France—the powerhouses of old-world wine production. Led by wine staff members Josh, Karina, and Sam, this is a great way to take the leap into the nitty-gritty of wine: grapes, growers, and geography, oh my!! With one class each month, January through March, it’s a great start to the year.

Somm-Studded Study!

If you keep up with the wild world that is the Twin Cities restaurant scene, then (hopefully) you’ve kept up with our “Somm Series” classes, featuring the bright minds behind the outstanding wine programs at some of the best restaurants in Minnesota. The winter will feature classes with Amy Waller, sommelier for the Bachelor Famer, and Scarlett Carrasco-Polanco of Grand Café. They’ll wax poetic on their love of Austrian wines and Cabernet Franc, respectively.

Meaty Material!

Give the carnivores in your life an opportunity to put their knife skills to the test with our Pig Butchering 101 class. One of the most popular classes we’ve offered at France 44, this experience gets you up-close-and-personal with a whole hog in our downstairs kitchen. Our butcher, Scott, guides participants through the basics of butchering and sends each student home with over $100 worth of pork and sausages! Follow this class up with a ticket to our “Grilling and Wine” class later in April, where you can learn from our wine specialist, Adam, which wines will pair best with those sausages!

History, Hurdles, and Hedonism

In 2020, we’re excited to start offering a range of classes that take our wine education program in brand-new directions. Kicking off a non-traditional year will be “Forbidden Fruit(s): A Prohibition Extravaganza,” which will take participants on a rollicking ride through one of America’s worst ideas. The theatergoer or history buff in your life will love this evening blending wine, theatre, bathtub gin, and anachronistic jokes into a wildly entertaining event.

Running with the artistic bent, we’ll be teaming up with Art Girl Minneapolis for a wine and art pairing class in “Around the World with Wine, Art, and Cheese,” featuring the work of Venezuelan-born artist Richard Merchan. Finally, celebrate Women’s History Month with a groundbreaking roundtable with four influential women in the Twin Cities wine scene in, “Winey Women: A Celebration of Women in Wine.” Hear about the journey these women have been on, join in the dialogue of what women bring to wine today, and sip on some inspiring wines chosen by our panelists while we dream big for the future.