Monthly Archives: July 2012

episode 1.9 – the picnic cometh!

Finishing up my shift, I took in a burrito and brew at the Tav in Grand Marais and watched the sunniest, hottest day of the summer cloud-over and into one of the swiftest storms I’ve ever seen pass over the small town.

Lightning crackled behind gray tufts of cloud and thunder rocked the foundations of the coffee shop in which I took shelter.  (Everyone knows the first thing to do in a storm emergency is to seek Iced Mochas, right?)

The wall cloud was an unusual sight.  Since the town is so infrequently hit by big storms, the streets didn’t clear–instead, they filled with spectators snapping shots with cameras and smartphones.

Clearly, I did too.

GM had plenty of witnesses to the event too, considering this weekend was the kickoff to a big week for the small town.

On Saturday, the harbor was all about Dragon Boat Racing.  Teams paddling their little hearts out in beautifully-crafted dragon-inspired boats has drawn quite a crowd in recent years.

Dragons are very in this season, or so I’ve been told.

But after that, Grand Marais rolls right into one of the biggest–and oldest–festivals of all time:  Fisherman’s Picnic.

What is Fisherman’s Picnic?  Oh, man.

Every summer, when America is gearing up for fireworks and parades on the 4th of July, Grand Marais is sitting back, relaxing.

Relatively, of course–obviously the town still does its part to put on a heck of an Independence Day show.

But GM saves itself for Fisherman’s Picnic, the 83-year-old tradition that’s all about fishing, food, and fun.  Think of it as the “really cool Grandpa” of local festivals.

What began as a modest fundraiser for the local Lions Club chapter has evolved into an all-out celebration, complete with carnival rides and games, amazing food, a parade, and….log-rolling?!  Seriously?!

Perusing the official agenda, I found a number of stand-alone events that sound promising.  Do I know what they are exactly?  No.  Am I going to check them out?  Duh.  Let’s look at some of these hidden gems, shall we?

“Library Friends Annual Book Sale” 

That sounds promising.  Good deals on used books that benefit the local library?  Slam dunk.

 “Kids Rides Open”

Okay…it says Kids Rides–but nobody keeps Mikel off a Scrambler!  Keep it on the list!

“World’s Best Donut Bingo”

Well, that’s 2 of my favorite things right there...

“Cutest Puppy Contest”

So I’m a sucker for cute puppies–who isn’t?

“Pizza Eating Contest”

Let’s be clear:  I will win this.  And after I eat the required amount of pizza, I will also eat your pizza.

“Fishburger Stand Opens”

Not entirely sure what a “Fishburger” is…but that’s never stopped me before!

Well, now I have my agenda–let’s not dwell on the fact that half of them have to do with food.  

Anyway, hope to see you guys around my neck of the woods this weekend!  Grand Marais is always a blast, festival or not.  But why wouldn’t you choose “festival” in that situation?

Ahh, look at that.  The storm has passed.  Man, I love this town.

Cheers!

–Mikel

Fish-Pic Veterans:  Don’t be afraid to sound off in the comments section with your favorite FP events.  What are you guys looking forward to?

episode 1.8 – life in the "big marsh"

Let’s be clear:  I work in Lutsen, but I play in Grand Marais.

(I guess it’s kind of a win-win because my work usually consists of stuff like this.)  

Don’t get me wrong, all of the North Shore is the royal crown of Minnesota.  But for me, Grand Marais is the biggest gem.  It’s the town I fell in love with when I helped my cousin move there a few years ago.  I had no idea then that I would be living there within six months, but that was exactly the case.

So what’s so great about the little harbor that early French traders called “the big marsh?” (Title!  Relevance!)

Answer:  Fudge shoppes.

Just kidding.  Sort of.  We do have two of them.  But there is much more to Grand Marais than just fudge–there’s also doughnuts!

No, Mikel, no!  Never blog on an empty stomach, people.

While the food is divine, I think the real draw of the quaint, artsy little town is the juxtaposition of culture and nature.  Nowhere else can you find such a perfect clash of Americana sidling right up to the Northwoods.

Seriously.  It’s like look left and see this:

Look right, and it’s this:

One minute, you’re enjoying a mason jar of wine at My Sister’s Place….

…the next, you’re scouting locales for Season 2 of Lost!

There’s fine dining.

There’s hiking.

There’s microbrews on draft.

There’s a skatepark.

There’s art.

There’s Artists’ Point.

There’s frozen custard.

And there’s a thousand little places

where you can pull up a corner of serenity

and call it your own for hours at a time.

Two years later, and I still spend my days off walking up and down the streets of Grand Marais, taking it all in.  Trekking out to the edge of the lighthouse to read a book.  Hoofing it until the roads turn into shoreline.  Skipping perfectly water-smoothed stones into the big blue until the sun sets.

I tell all my guests the same thing:  if you’ve made it all the way to Lutsen for vacation, you have to visit Grand Marais.  It’s condensed relaxation.  A vacation within a vacation.

In honor of my favorite little town–and how much I love food–I decided to put together a little awards show.  Presenting The First Annual “Marshies.”  The best-of-the-best Grand Marais has to offer:

Best View:  Grand Marais Fusion

Wait, this one isn’t about food, is it?  Yes, it is.  GM Fusion, run by two of the greatest people you’ll ever meet, Carl and Beth, is technically an Herbalife shake shoppe.  But it is also a great hangout with a great view of the harbor.  Ask for the “Mikey Special” shake.

Best Pizza: Sven and Ole’s / My Sister’s Place

Two winners for best pizza?  Them’s fightin’ words!  But I couldn’t help but giving the Marshie to both of these places.  Sven and Ole’s pretty much has the market cornered on ‘za in Grand Marais.  It’s hard to contend with their thick crusts and unique toppings–and their dedication to being an uber-traditional pizzeria is admirable.

But you gotta try Sisters’ BBQ Bacon Cheeseburger–it’s a gamechanger.  Don’t forget the extra pickles!

Best Burger:  My Sister’s Place

Geez, Mikel, are you running PR for these guys or what?

Look, I just really like this place okay?  (Mason Jars!  Hello!)  But the burger menu does leave the others in the dust.  From the “Anna Banana” to the “Goober Burger,” there’s something for every palette.  Seriously, peanut-butter-and-mayo…try it!

Best Cocktail:  Gunflint Tavern

Live music, an amazing menu, and a bar on the roof make this the nightlife hot spot in Grand Marais.  I could’ve made an offshoot award for Best Nachos, and the Tav would hold the title on that one too.

But I digress (It’s a problem):  the best cocktail in town is the Anne Bonny; a sweet, citrusy twist on a Long Island.  You have to try it.  Great wine and beer selection as well!

Best Place to get a Mocha/Best Cookie:  The Java Moose

The quintessential coffee shop:  WiFi, chalkboards, muffin tops, artsy folk like me–the whole nine yards.  They also keep a lock on the recipe for the Thunder Cookie.

There’s definitely more to come from me on the topic of Grand Marais.  This weekend, the harbor is hosting the Dragon Boat Races.

Need a room?  I know a great little place.

Check it out for yourself.  Bonus points if you can find this spot:

episode 1.8 – life in the “big marsh”

Let’s be clear:  I work in Lutsen, but I play in Grand Marais.

(I guess it’s kind of a win-win because my work usually consists of stuff like this.)  

Don’t get me wrong, all of the North Shore is the royal crown of Minnesota.  But for me, Grand Marais is the biggest gem.  It’s the town I fell in love with when I helped my cousin move there a few years ago.  I had no idea then that I would be living there within six months, but that was exactly the case.

So what’s so great about the little harbor that early French traders called “the big marsh?” (Title!  Relevance!)

Answer:  Fudge shoppes.

Just kidding.  Sort of.  We do have two of them.  But there is much more to Grand Marais than just fudge–there’s also doughnuts!

No, Mikel, no!  Never blog on an empty stomach, people.

While the food is divine, I think the real draw of the quaint, artsy little town is the juxtaposition of culture and nature.  Nowhere else can you find such a perfect clash of Americana sidling right up to the Northwoods.

Seriously.  It’s like look left and see this:

Look right, and it’s this:

One minute, you’re enjoying a mason jar of wine at My Sister’s Place….

…the next, you’re scouting locales for Season 2 of Lost!

There’s fine dining.

There’s hiking.

There’s microbrews on draft.

There’s a skatepark.

There’s art.

There’s Artists’ Point.

There’s frozen custard.

And there’s a thousand little places

where you can pull up a corner of serenity

and call it your own for hours at a time.

Two years later, and I still spend my days off walking up and down the streets of Grand Marais, taking it all in.  Trekking out to the edge of the lighthouse to read a book.  Hoofing it until the roads turn into shoreline.  Skipping perfectly water-smoothed stones into the big blue until the sun sets.

I tell all my guests the same thing:  if you’ve made it all the way to Lutsen for vacation, you have to visit Grand Marais.  It’s condensed relaxation.  A vacation within a vacation.

In honor of my favorite little town–and how much I love food–I decided to put together a little awards show.  Presenting The First Annual “Marshies.”  The best-of-the-best Grand Marais has to offer:

Best View:  Grand Marais Fusion

Wait, this one isn’t about food, is it?  Yes, it is.  GM Fusion, run by two of the greatest people you’ll ever meet, Carl and Beth, is technically an Herbalife shake shoppe.  But it is also a great hangout with a great view of the harbor.  Ask for the “Mikey Special” shake.

Best Pizza: Sven and Ole’s / My Sister’s Place

Two winners for best pizza?  Them’s fightin’ words!  But I couldn’t help but giving the Marshie to both of these places.  Sven and Ole’s pretty much has the market cornered on ‘za in Grand Marais.  It’s hard to contend with their thick crusts and unique toppings–and their dedication to being an uber-traditional pizzeria is admirable.

But you gotta try Sisters’ BBQ Bacon Cheeseburger–it’s a gamechanger.  Don’t forget the extra pickles!

Best Burger:  My Sister’s Place

Geez, Mikel, are you running PR for these guys or what?

Look, I just really like this place okay?  (Mason Jars!  Hello!)  But the burger menu does leave the others in the dust.  From the “Anna Banana” to the “Goober Burger,” there’s something for every palette.  Seriously, peanut-butter-and-mayo…try it!

Best Cocktail:  Gunflint Tavern

Live music, an amazing menu, and a bar on the roof make this the nightlife hot spot in Grand Marais.  I could’ve made an offshoot award for Best Nachos, and the Tav would hold the title on that one too.

But I digress (It’s a problem):  the best cocktail in town is the Anne Bonny; a sweet, citrusy twist on a Long Island.  You have to try it.  Great wine and beer selection as well!

Best Place to get a Mocha/Best Cookie:  The Java Moose

The quintessential coffee shop:  WiFi, chalkboards, muffin tops, artsy folk like me–the whole nine yards.  They also keep a lock on the recipe for the Thunder Cookie.

There’s definitely more to come from me on the topic of Grand Marais.  This weekend, the harbor is hosting the Dragon Boat Races.

Need a room?  I know a great little place.

Check it out for yourself.  Bonus points if you can find this spot:

episode 1.7 – mikel vs. beer (post-Hop)

Queue up Eye of the Tiger, everybody.  That’s what I did mentally (and maybe a little vocally) as I set foot into the Hopped Up beer garden on Saturday.

For me, Beer O’ Clock was literally 3 p.m.  After a long morning of pouring 200+ Bloody Marys at the Build-Your-Own Bloody Breakfast Buffet, I was pretty thirsty.

This year’s beer festival boasted nearly double the brewers as last year, so I had some work to do.  I wasted no time, jumping right in and filling my commemorative cup with last year’s crowd favorite, Fitger’s Apricot Wheat.  Sure, it’s the big dog, but damn if it ain’t one of the tastiest, easy-drinking brews in the land.

After my new tradition was finished, I was like Pavlov’s dog wondering which beer to try first.  I took a moment just to take it all in.  All the grins, all the rosy cheeks, all the, uh, aviator sunglasses.  Pure bliss.

I found my way over to the Bells station and rounded the bend to check out what Duluth-favorite Carmody was packing–Black Pepper IPA?!  Get Out!–but I was really excited to try the Loch Leech Monster Scottish Ale from Leech Lake Brewing Company out of Walker, MN.

Sidenote about me:  If you put “Monster” in the title of your beer, I will be powerfully drawn to it.

All of Leech Lake’s beers were dynamite, but it was the brewer’s enthusiasm that kept me coming back for pours.  As I mentioned last week, talking shop with these guys and seeing their passion shine through is one of the best things about this beer fest.

And sure it was a blast trying all these delicious, unique beers that I’d never heard of, but surprisingly the real joy came from sharing favorites with my pals that came and visited.  After all the hype I talked up about Kayak Kolsch, it was nice for my buds to get to sample it and (not surprisingly) love it.

Not to go completely Sesame Street on you, but that’s really what this beer fest is about:  sharing with friends.  After all, nobody likes drinking alone, right?

Well, enough out of me, I’m going to let the pictures do the talking.  I’ll post more as I get them, but I’ll leave you with some of the gems.  And my top 5 favorite brews from the big show, of course!  Cheers!

 

 

 

Mikel’s Top 5

5.  Apricot Wheat (Fitger’s Brewhouse)

4.  Loch Leech Monster (Leech Lake Brewing Company)

3.  Mango Belggggggian Wheat (Carmody)

2.  Tie:  Hell Hath No Fury Ale/Black Note (Bells Brewery)

1.  Castle Cream Ale (Castle Danger Brewery)

Honorable Mention:  WATER!!!

photos by kell sanders

episode 1.6 – gettin' all hopped up

FYI, you guys, I LOVE BEER.  That’s an understatement.  That’s why I’m so pumped it’s here.

It’s finally here.

The Hopped Up Caribou Beer Festival is THIS WEEKEND!   This is the Oscars of beer tastings..  It’s the beer-makers beer fest.  Like an art exhibit for Van Gogh to attend.

Okay, okay, I think you get it.  So what else can I say about Hopped Up?  Well, it’s singlehandedly the most chillax learning experience of all time.  Seriously, I have never learned so much about beer in one afternoon, while keeping cool off the sweet mountain breeze with Lake Superior looming in the distance.

Please note the official dress code of the Hopped Up Caribou Beer Festival.

From tasting notes to finally finding out what the heck hops are, it was truly a day to remember.  Great people having great conversations about great beers.

The perfect afternoon.

It’s been quite the year since the original beer fest.  That one fateful day back in July changed how I saw–and drank!–beer forever.  When you meet the people behind the beers, you really gain a new respect for the craft.

It’s an art.  And Hopped Up is a chance to meet the artists.

I guess when I pictured a beer fest, i imagined bunch of beer reps in fancy polo shirts trying to get you to buy their product in a stuffy auditorium somewhere.  But maybe that’s what sets Hopped Up apart.  Craft Beer Heroes, both local and from afar, are there for the ‘love of the game,’ if you will.  A meet-and-greet mixer of epic proportions.

Speaking of, one of the major highlights of my beer fest experience was meeting the faces behind my favorite beer of all-time, Kayak Kolsch:  Lake Superior Brewing Company out of Duluth.  It’s quite a treat to hear the origin story of your favorite brew, secret ingredients, all while sipping it, ice-cold.

And then moving onto the ones you haven’t tried.

Oh, yeah, that’s another highlight.  These brewers are bringing up some crafts that you might never have heard of…and that you may never hear of again.

Take a first-person POV tour of last year’s beer festival!

 Couple that with all the great food, perfectly paired for the brews by our Executive Chef, and you have a weekend like no other in the entire beer-niverse.

Our elite staff have been training for this day since their 21st b-day.

 

The key to any successful beer fest. Got it covered.

Check out the itinerary!

It’s never too late to plan a trip up to the North Shore–especially when there is beer involved.  I’ll be attending once again, and reporting all the pertinent info to you on Monday…but wouldn’t you rather experience it yourself?

Blogs are great, but they don’t have samples, now do they.

Seriously, though, don’t miss this.  You’ll enjoy every drop of it.  Promise

And did I mention the unlimited pours?  Cheers, guys–in the most literal since.  See you when we’re ‘all Hopped Up’  this weekend!

– Mikel

 

episode 1.6 – gettin’ all hopped up

FYI, you guys, I LOVE BEER.  That’s an understatement.  That’s why I’m so pumped it’s here.

It’s finally here.

The Hopped Up Caribou Beer Festival is THIS WEEKEND!   This is the Oscars of beer tastings..  It’s the beer-makers beer fest.  Like an art exhibit for Van Gogh to attend.

Okay, okay, I think you get it.  So what else can I say about Hopped Up?  Well, it’s singlehandedly the most chillax learning experience of all time.  Seriously, I have never learned so much about beer in one afternoon, while keeping cool off the sweet mountain breeze with Lake Superior looming in the distance.

From tasting notes to finally finding out what the heck hops are, it was truly a day to remember.  Great people having great conversations about great beers.

The perfect afternoon.

It’s been quite the year since the original beer fest.  That one fateful day back in July changed how I saw–and drank!–beer forever.  When you meet the people behind the beers, you really gain a new respect for the craft.

It’s an art.  And Hopped Up is a chance to meet the artists.

I guess when I pictured a beer fest, i imagined bunch of beer reps in fancy polo shirts trying to get you to buy their product in a stuffy auditorium somewhere.  But maybe that’s what sets Hopped Up apart.  Craft Beer Heroes, both local and from afar, are there for the ‘love of the game,’ if you will.  A meet-and-greet mixer of epic proportions.

Speaking of, one of the major highlights of my beer fest experience was meeting the faces behind my favorite beer of all-time, Kayak Kolsch:  Lake Superior Brewing Company out of Duluth.  It’s quite a treat to hear the origin story of your favorite brew, secret ingredients, all while sipping it, ice-cold.

And then moving onto the ones you haven’t tried.

Oh, yeah, that’s another highlight.  These brewers are bringing up some crafts that you might never have heard of…and that you may never hear of again.

Take a first-person POV tour of last year’s beer festival!

 Couple that with all the great food, perfectly paired for the brews by our Executive Chef, and you have a weekend like no other in the entire beer-niverse.

 

Check out the itinerary!

It’s never too late to plan a trip up to the North Shore–especially when there is beer involved.  I’ll be attending once again, and reporting all the pertinent info to you on Monday…but wouldn’t you rather experience it yourself?

Blogs are great, but they don’t have samples, now do they.

Seriously, though, don’t miss this.  You’ll enjoy every drop of it.  Promise

And did I mention the unlimited pours?  Cheers, guys–in the most literal since.  See you when we’re ‘all Hopped Up’  this weekend!

– Mikel

 

episode 1.5 – chef wally's beer blog

My girlfriend and I started off the morning with a brisk walk up the always scenic Highway 61.  She wanted to see the wildflowers that are blooming like crazy in our neck of the woods–but me?  I was on a mission.

Okay, the wildflowers were very beautiful, but what I really wanted was coasters.  You heard me.  Coasters.  You know, the ones bravely keeping your cold drinks off coffee tables since time immemorial?

Anyway, I needed a new set since I moved into my new place, but I wanted something….North Shoresy.  So when I came across a Superior Hiking Trail called the Lakewalk, I wasted no time.  I scoured the shoreline for the flattest, most stable rocks I could find.

Behold!  My all-natural, totally organic, green-for-the-environment coaster set, forged by the mighty waves of Lake Superior!

Okay, call it a pile of rocks if you want, but do you know how tricky it is to find four perfectly flat, similarly-shaped, virtually-identical rocks that get concentrically smaller?

Pretty darn tricky.

So now I can comfortably enjoy a cold beverage in my new place.  And I’ve been mighty thirsty lately, what with all the talk of beer around the proverbial water cooler at work.  Why is everyone buzzing about beers at work?  Well, maybe it’s because we have the sweetest beer fest on the shore coming up in a couple weeks!

That’s right, the Hopped Up Caribou Beer Festival is just 10 days away.  And frankly, I’m pumped.  I tried so many awesome beers last year, and this year there’s even more coming and–well, I’ll get into that more next week.

In the mean time, the conversations at work have been drifting to “The Best Beers of All-Time.”  Everyone up here is pretty opinionated when it comes to brews, but I thought it would be cool to ask Wally, the Exec Chef at my restaurant.

Because, let’s be honest, if there’s two things I like talking about, it’s beer and food.

Chef Wally also happens to be my cousin.  Over the years, we’ve sampled many tasty beers.  A couple years ago, when I started my blog, Wally joked he was going to start a beer blog–you know, to trump my blog, cousin-rivalry-style–and over the years we just kept talking about the “Chef Wally Beer Blog.”

Try a good beer?  ”That’s one for the Beer Blog, right, Wally?”

Well, in honor of my cousin and the fast-approaching beer festival, I finally put the big guy on the spot:  What are your 5 favorite beers and what would be the perfect meal to pair them with?

After all, who else would you trust about alcohol and food if not this guy:

So, here you go, Cuz.  The inaugural post of the Chef Wally Beer Blog.  Top 5…go!

#5 Schell’s Pils

Traditionally speaking, Wally loves him some Schell’s beers.  And the Pils is a very traditional Bavarian Pilsner.  Very refreshing and great to wash down a Grilled Salmon Steak dressed in a Lemon Caper Butter.  Yum.

#4 Schell’s Maifest

I told you:  Wally loves Schell’s, especially this light-in-color Maibock.   Wally’s dish on a dish:  ”This is going to go great with Asian food–my pick is Orange Chicken with cracked red peppers to throw in some heat.”

#3 Odell’s Red Ale

While Wally and I tend to part ways on our beer-pinions, we both have an affinity to red ales–and Odell’s is no exception!  The whole Odell’s lineup is something to write home about, but the Red Ale is a standout favorite.  And what’s going to really bring out that crimson flavor:  a Bacon Cheeseburger, with Sharp Cheddar and seasoned with Black Pepper.

#2 Surly Darkness

The crown jewel of local beer aficionados, this heavy stout goes great with game birds.  Wally’s pick:  Smoked Pheasant with Gouda Mashed Potatoes.  Yum!

#1 Tallgrass India Pale Ale

Gamechanger!  Within the last year, Wally discovered Tallgrass Breweries.  These guys put out some excellent beers, but none stuck out for the big guy as much as the IPA.  It’s Hop City and pairs great with anything spicy, but Wally likes a Spicy Shrimp Curry with this bad boy.

There you have it, folks–the top choices from the pro!  It goes without saying that Wally’s excited for Hopped Up since his old reliable, Schell’s, is on the guest list…but he also said Fitger’s brought some great beers last year.  Do I smell a head-to-head?

Cheers, guys!

 

– Mikel

episode 1.5 – chef wally’s beer blog

My girlfriend and I started off the morning with a brisk walk up the always scenic Highway 61.  She wanted to see the wildflowers that are blooming like crazy in our neck of the woods–but me?  I was on a mission.

Okay, the wildflowers were very beautiful, but what I really wanted was coasters.  You heard me.  Coasters.  You know, the ones bravely keeping your cold drinks off coffee tables since time immemorial?

Anyway, I needed a new set since I moved into my new place, but I wanted something….North Shoresy.  So when I came across a Superior Hiking Trail called the Lakewalk, I wasted no time.  I scoured the shoreline for the flattest, most stable rocks I could find.

Behold!  My all-natural, totally organic, green-for-the-environment coaster set, forged by the mighty waves of Lake Superior!

Okay, call it a pile of rocks if you want, but do you know how tricky it is to find four perfectly flat, similarly-shaped, virtually-identical rocks that get concentrically smaller?

Pretty darn tricky.

So now I can comfortably enjoy a cold beverage in my new place.  And I’ve been mighty thirsty lately, what with all the talk of beer around the proverbial water cooler at work.  Why is everyone buzzing about beers at work?  Well, maybe it’s because we have the sweetest beer fest on the shore coming up in a couple weeks!

That’s right, the Hopped Up Caribou Beer Festival is just 10 days away.  And frankly, I’m pumped.  I tried so many awesome beers last year, and this year there’s even more coming and–well, I’ll get into that more next week.

In the mean time, the conversations at work have been drifting to “The Best Beers of All-Time.”  Everyone up here is pretty opinionated when it comes to brews, but I thought it would be cool to ask Wally, the Exec Chef at my restaurant.

Because, let’s be honest, if there’s two things I like talking about, it’s beer and food.

Chef Wally also happens to be my cousin.  Over the years, we’ve sampled many tasty beers.  A couple years ago, when I started my blog, Wally joked he was going to start a beer blog–you know, to trump my blog, cousin-rivalry-style–and over the years we just kept talking about the “Chef Wally Beer Blog.”

Try a good beer?  ”That’s one for the Beer Blog, right, Wally?”

Well, in honor of my cousin and the fast-approaching beer festival, I finally put the big guy on the spot:  What are your 5 favorite beers and what would be the perfect meal to pair them with?

After all, who else would you trust about alcohol and food if not this guy:

So, here you go, Cuz.  The inaugural post of the Chef Wally Beer Blog.  Top 5…go!

#5 Schell’s Pils

Traditionally speaking, Wally loves him some Schell’s beers.  And the Pils is a very traditional Bavarian Pilsner.  Very refreshing and great to wash down a Grilled Salmon Steak dressed in a Lemon Caper Butter.  Yum.

#4 Schell’s Maifest

I told you:  Wally loves Schell’s, especially this light-in-color Maibock.   Wally’s dish on a dish:  ”This is going to go great with Asian food–my pick is Orange Chicken with cracked red peppers to throw in some heat.”

#3 Odell’s Red Ale

While Wally and I tend to part ways on our beer-pinions, we both have an affinity to red ales–and Odell’s is no exception!  The whole Odell’s lineup is something to write home about, but the Red Ale is a standout favorite.  And what’s going to really bring out that crimson flavor:  a Bacon Cheeseburger, with Sharp Cheddar and seasoned with Black Pepper.

#2 Surly Darkness

The crown jewel of local beer aficionados, this heavy stout goes great with game birds.  Wally’s pick:  Smoked Pheasant with Gouda Mashed Potatoes.  Yum!

#1 Tallgrass India Pale Ale

Gamechanger!  Within the last year, Wally discovered Tallgrass Breweries.  These guys put out some excellent beers, but none stuck out for the big guy as much as the IPA.  It’s Hop City and pairs great with anything spicy, but Wally likes a Spicy Shrimp Curry with this bad boy.

There you have it, folks–the top choices from the pro!  It goes without saying that Wally’s excited for Hopped Up since his old reliable, Schell’s, is on the guest list…but he also said Fitger’s brought some great beers last year.  Do I smell a head-to-head?

Cheers, guys!

 

– Mikel

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