Tag Archives: beer

Butcher and the Boar (Minneapolis, MN)

After an afternoon of work in Minneapolis, and a quick trip over to St Louis Park to visit The Four Firkins (one of the finest beer stores I’ve ever been to), it was time to have some dinner. I decided to meet up with my friend Andy from my MSU days, along with a former FIRST robotics student and intern of mine, Mas (and his fiancee) for dinner at Butcher and the Boar, one of Minneapolis’ newer bars located on Hennepin Avenue on the edge of the Loring Park neighborhood (looking at a Minneapolis Map, I guess technically most folks call this the “Harmon Neighborhood”). Opened by Jack Reibel, formerly the chef at the well-respected La Belle Vie in Stillwater and the Dakota Jazz Club, Butcher and the Boar is really about two things: beer and meat. First of all, the beer: one of the two centerpieces of the restaurant is their large bar (the other is the open kitchen across the dining area), with a rather impressive tap list, indeed, the beer list was one of my main reasons for coming. With a good list of American beers, with particular emphasis on regional brewers, it’s one of the best beer lists I’ve recently found in the Twin Cities. Indeed, I was able to have some local Surly, some “Goes to 11” by Bells, and some Deschute Mirror Pond. They’ve also got rather good wine and whiskey lists, although I wasn’t in the mood for indulging those that particular night.

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Worthy Burger (South Royalton, VT)

Back in August (while Carol and I were in Iceland), one of the greater Upper Valley area’s most anticipated restaurants, Worthy Burger, opened for business. The location itself has been the source of a bit of drama in recent years; originally it was supposed to be a bar run by Freighthouse Brewing, but then as the plans for the brewery got scaled back, plans adjusted, and several folks including local chef Jason Merrill, Dave Brodrick (known for the well-respected Blind Tiger in New York), and Kurt Lessard decided that the South Royalton region was ripe for a gourmet burger bar. So after several months of extensive renovations while locals kept peering in and spreading rumors about the impending opening (some accurate, some not), Worthy Burger finally opening in August.

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Farm House Tap and Grill (Burlington, VT)

In what appears to be turning into a tradition, after this year’s Saturday afternoon session of the Vermont Brewers Festival, we went to The Farm House Tap and Grill with our friends Rick, Sarah, Scott, Eve, and friends. We did this last year, and had a great time (I would have written it up then, but I had left the camera in the truck with our dog Buster). What is Farm House Tap and Grill? Owned by a group of local restauranteurs including two of the owners of Zero Gravity Brewpub and a few other Vermonters, Farm House is a “gastropub” featuring a combination of good wine and beer lists with food focusing local ingredients. While I’ve never really been a great fan of the term “gastropub” (really, what’s wrong with the old-fashioned word “restaurant”?), it’s actually not a bad description of Farm House. First of all, they’ve got a phenomenal beer list; on this visit, they had an outstanding selection of both local Vermont gems (Rock Art’s Jasmine IPA, Lawson’s Finest Liquids’ Chinooker’d, and Otter Creek’s 20th Anniversary, as a start), and regional favorites (Founders’ Devil Dancer, Dieu du Ciel’s Mea Culpa, and some brews from Brooklyn). Some of these (like the Lawson’s) are rather hard to find as well. So they’ve got the selection down pat. But they’ve also got a decent menu. While they only have a limited tasting menu before 6pm, Farm House was quite happy to let us quietly drink beer and nosh on lighter appetizer fare until 6pm rolled around (we arrived at 5pm)…

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Market Garden (Cleveland, OH)

Most every trip to Cleveland I try to make it to the West Side to see what’s going on. Well, this time, there was actually some major news: a new brewpub has opened. Market Garden is now open, across the street from one of my other West Side favorites, Bar Cento/Bier Markt. So I decided to walk across the street and give it a try. Market Garden is the latest venture from Sam McNulty, who opened the above-mentioned Bar Cento an Bier Markt across the street. Earlier this year, he teamed up with former Dogfish Head brewer Andy Tveekrem (I’ve since learned that in Cleveland beer circles he’s got quite the following) to open up a new beer garden-styled establishment, focusing on beer and distilled spirits, but also offering a decent menu of, well, upscale pub grub. Bringing on experienced chef Mike Nowak from across the street, they’ve got a decent menu of appetizers, sandwiches, burgers, and lighter dinners…

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Victory Brewing Company (Downingtown, PA)

Well, after a four day weekend in Lower, Slower Delaware, it was time for us to head home. However, heading home meant heading back to the Philadelphia Airport, so we used the opportunity to try a few places on the way back. The first was Helen’s Sausage House in Smyrna, DE, but it turned out they were only open through lunch, and we got there about 15 minutes too late. So we headed on up to the greater Philly area, and decided to check out Victory Brewing Company’s brewpub in Downingtown, PA. I’m always a little hesitant when it comes to brewpubs run by up and coming breweries, because it’s hard to focus on both the brewery and a brewpub and do both right. Most (but not all) of the places I’ve been only manage to have enough focus to keep the brewery going, and what usually seems to happen is that really high ambitions are set for the brewpub, but there’s just not enough effort to make the brewpub as good as the beer. I’ve run into this a lot of times, having experiences some particularly disappointing meals at other brewery brewpubs (like Stone and Harpoon, to name two). There are some exceptions, but mostly those are places like Long Trail in Vermont that don’t really try to be fancy: they set a reasonable goal (“we’re selling burgers and fries”) and do that well, instead of getting fancy. But things started off pretty decently. The first challenge with Victory is getting there in the first place. With our goal being to get there around happy hour, we had quite a bit of traffic facing us coming up from Delaware. Once we got to Downingtown, however, it was relatively easy to find the industrial park where the brewery and brewpub are located. However, the signage in the park isn’t the greatest, so expect to spend a bit of time wandering around the area looking for the brewpub (a note to other seekers: it’s in the southwest corner of the area).

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Iron Hill Brewery (Newark, DE)

After we finished up in Philly (including a visit to the very pleasant Morris Arboretum, and an attempt to visit Earth Brewing in Mt Airy that was foiled by them taking some vacation time), we decided to head down to Rehoboth Beach. Along the way, we passed right by Newark, Delaware, so we decided to stop by and check out Iron Hill Brewery. I’ve always had a soft spot for Newark (I actually lived there as a kid from 1974 to 1980), but it’s had a lot of turnover in the 30 years (!) since I lived there. The Gino’s where we’d get chicken and “Gino Giant” burgers is long gone, as are most of the other businesses I remember (although one of my father’s two favorite diners, the Post House, is still alive and well, although Jimmy’s Diner down the way is, sadly, now a Cheeburger Cheeburger). However, one excellent addition to downtown Newark in the mid-90s was a brewery. Since 1996, Iron Hill Brewery has been running a successful brewpub.

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The Raven Cafe (Port Huron, MI)

After a pleasant morning touring the various tourism sites of Port Huron, MI (the Edison Depot Museum, the Lightship Huron, and the Gratiot Lighthouse park, amongst others) we decided it was time for a late lunch. Luckily, just south of the Black River on Huron Street, the Raven Cafe sits in a rather old building (dating from approximately the time of the Civil War). Billing itself as the “cultural, musical and culinary Mecca in the heart of Port Huron”, it’s actually a very nicely appointed bar, one of those places where the people decorating it seem to have turned the “eclectic” knob to 11. But it’s got a very nice old wooden bar downstairs, some very nice loft seating upstairs, a small outdoor balcony, and an odd little indoor balcony only accessible via ladder from the entryway for band performances. It’s certainly got a little bit of charm. We grabbed a nice table outside where we could look over at the old lift bridge over the Black River as well as some of the boats docked on Quay Street…

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Royal Oak Brewery (Royal Oak, MI)

Well, after several weeks of relaxing at home, the traveling is starting up again in earnest. Last week, we went to Michigan for Carol’s sister’s wedding. While the wedding itself was in Howell, MI, we arrived a day early to go visit some of her family up in St Clair, MI (and after the wedding, we spend several extra days in Detroit due to Hurricane Irene, but that’s another story). Along the way, we stopped in Royal Oak, MI, to meet up with Carol’s sister and her fiance and hand off the wedding veil Carol made. And get some beers and sandwiches…

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A Belated St Patrick’s Day

Turns out some things are becoming traditions. Based upon the success of last year’s St Patrick’s Day Dinner hosted by Umpleby’s Bakery and the Upper Valley Beer Society, and the resounding success of The Beefsteak last fall, we decided that this year we’d again host another St Patrick’s Day celebration and stout tasting.

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