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Beer Event: Darkness Day 2012

29 Oct

Brew Event: Darkness Day 2012

When: October 27th 2012

Where: Surly Brewing Co. (Brooklyn Center, MN)

This past weekend I had the pleasure of attending Surly’s annual release party of their Russian Imperial Stout Darkness at the brewery.  There was a lot that happened in the span from Friday morning to about 2pm on Saturday afternoon, I will try to recap in as few words as possible.

9am Friday the 26th, I woke up not feeling my best after trying to drown out the sorry excuse the Vikings called a football game they had attempted on Thursday night.  Got a text message from a buddy in Chicago that he wasn’t going to make it today since he has a kid on the way now (congrats) and is buying a house (congrats again) and is therefore a little busy at this time.  Didn’t blame him but I still put out the obligatory, ‘dude, you’re missing out’ message back to him and a picture of all the beer I was planning on bringing to the event laid out like an offering to an ancient God at Delphi.  Needless to say that text might have made him change his mind and about an hour later he was on his way.  Now this was a great turning point because he was planning on bringing some beers that we can’t get a hold of here in MN and I was excited to try some stuff that you can only find down there.  More on why this was a huge pick up later on…

So with the knowledge that he was coming up I rallied the other 2 guys who were going to go with me and we got everything ready to go for the night of trying awesome beers and camping out.  So we rolled up with the trailblazer packed with 4 guys and all our stuff at about 7 o’clock on Friday evening expecting to be fairly close to the beginning of the line, needless to say after some weird guys telling us where we were in the line we figured we were about 500-600 people from the front.  Not as close as we expected but we felt pretty safe on getting at wristband, of which there was only 1,500 so we settled in, cracked our first beers and fired up the grill for some delicious sausages and chips.  Classic camping foods.

So we cracked out first beer, and I will try to give a rundown of what I remember drinking at the end of the story, and ate and probably 2 hours later our buddy from Chicago gets a call.  Turns out that he is a manager at a liquor store in Chicago, pretty sweet, and his distributer buddy is also coming up for the event and he was going to show up in like 45 minutes.  this was the 2nd blessing of having this certain buddy from Chicago make that trip up on a text messaged picture whim.  Not only does he has access to tons of beer as a manager but this buddy of his had a whole distribution network at his finger tips along with all the people he knows from the business.  Our collection of cool beers was now looking pale in comparison to what he and his crew were rolling up with.  So about 30 minutes after that phone call, 5 guys roll up with like 3 or 4 coolers full of beers I have never even seen let alone think about drinking because of how rare they are.  I will try to get to those at the end like I mentioned.

So we now were rolling in a crew of about 8 or 9 guys and trying and sipping what amounted to some of the most ridiculous beer I have ever tried.  Needless to say I was very pleased with this development, it was an added bonus that everybody in our little circle now were pretty cool dudes and everybody was feeling good.

That night we tried plenty of beer, made some cool friends from not only these new Chicagoans but also just the people standing around us in line who were totally into sharing beer and swapping stories, it was a good time.  We hit the hay in the tent around 1 or 1:30 I would guess, I really didn’t check the time when we went to bed.  All I know was that it was freezing and I had a hard time really falling asleep.  Then out of the blue at 6:50 am we get the worst wakeup call of our lives.  We had to have our tent down by 7am so basically we had to get up and get all our crap down and ready to go in 10 minutes.  not fun.  It was still freezing and I had just started to get comfortable in that sleeping bag.  So we packed up, almost started breakfast and then we realized that everybody was compressing the line and walking towards the front.  Thankfully a few of us had the right state of mind to remember to bring a cooler of beers for the eventual wait in the line.  So finally when we stopped compressing we got to stop, play with an awesome golden retriever that was next to us in line and try some more insane beer.

Eventually they passed out the wristbands, which we got with no problem of course, and headed back to camp to try more beers and make some much needed food.  We had bacon, eggs, one leftover sausage and hash browns.  It was pretty jumbled together but that might have been one of the best breakfasts of my life.  The sun had come up and we were finally starting to thaw out as well.  Once about 12:30pm rolled around we packed up the remainder of our stuff and headed into the actual event to sample a couple beers and purchase our 6 bottles of 2012 Darkness.  After trying a couple beers, buying some t-shirts and grabbing our 6 bottles we headed home to take a nap that was long overdue.

To sum it up I got to try some of the most unreal beers ever, stood in line from 7pm to 12:30pm the next day, froze my feet and my nose and my fingers, ate some amazing food, met some really cool people, tried even more crazy beers, woke up far too early and went to bed far too late and had an amazing time doing it all.

Alright now I am going to try and remember all the beers I tried I am going to headline them by where I was or what was happening at the time.  Note – I had more than just these, however these are the only ones I can remember from a continuous string of beers being tried.

When we got there setting up camp and eating dinner:

Founders – Harvest Ale

Indeed Brewing – Day Tripper Pale Ale

Brux- Sierra Nevada and Russian River collaboration

Les Trois Mousquetaires Grande Cuvee Series 2010 Porter Baltique – cant get it in the US and it was one of the highlights of all the beers I had

Stone Russian Imperial Stout – 2012

Bells – This One Goes to 11 Ale

3 Floyds – Rye of the Tiger

Founders – Frangelic Mountain Brown

Founders – Furniture City Stock Ale

3 Floyds/Mikkeller Collaboration – Risgoop

Port Brewing Co. – High Tide Fresh Hop IPA

Walked up the line to the front and some tables where people were sharing whatever they had:

Steel Toe – Before the Dawn

New Glarus – Cranbic

Weyerbacher – Twelve anniversary ale

Fulton – The Worthy Adversary

New Glarus – Black Top

New Glarus – Old English Porter

Back at our campsite with the new guys from Chicago:

Left Hand – Smoke Jumper – Smoked Imperial Porter

Jackie O’s – Funky South Paw

Alaskan Brewing – Perseverance Ale (25 Years)

 Brouwerij 3 Fonteinen – Armand’4 Zomer (Summer)

3 Floyds – Baller Stout

O’Fallon Brewery –  B.D.S. Belgian Style Dark Ale 

Sierra Nevada – Estate Homegrown Ale

Founders – Nemesis (2010)

3 Floyds – Broo Doo

**note –  these guys loved sour beers so there were plenty I had never heard of as I am not a sour beer aficionado which makes them tough to remember**

In line waiting for a wristband:

Russian river Supplication batch #8

Darkness 2010 vintage, 2011 vintage

Founders Bolt cutter – this isn’t even released yet, like I said these guys were awesome

Why Winter – Two Brothers Brewing (this was in a huge 3L bottle that was passed around like the town bicycle, it was awesome)

Half Acre – Thunder and Son

Homebrew sour from the man with the nice dog we got to meet. Dogs name was Dude.

Back at camp for breakfast and wait to go into the actual event:

Dark lord – 2012 vintage, 2008 vintage

Darkness – more 2010 and 2011

Russian River – Pliney The Elder – bottled in the first week of October so still pretty fresh

Goose Island – Bourbon County Stout – 2005 vintage (maybe the best beer of the whole event)

Founders Canadian Breakfast Stout – this bottle had gone bad which was very disappointing

Arcadia Brewing Company (Arcadia Ales) – 15

Mikkeller – Black

AleSmith Brewing Co.  – Speedway Stout

Shorts Brewing Co. – Anniversary Ale

3 Floyds/Mikkeller – Ruggoop

Rogue Ales – Voodoo Doughnut Maple Bacon Ale (really gross)

Goose Island – Vanilla Bourbon County Stout 2010 vintage

3 Floyds – Zombie Dust

Once we got into the event:

Surly Darkness 2012 – straight from the keg, can’t wait to see how it develops in the bottle

Surly Brett Liquor IPA – IPA fermented with Brett yeast

So that is all I can remember at this time.  I will consult some sources and see if I can get any more on here and update accordingly.  Pretty much I can sum this year’s Darkness Day as awesome.

Beer Event: Stein Hoisting

12 Nov

Beer event: Sam Adams Stein Hoisting Competition 9/26/2011


A friend of mine found this event online somewhere, saw that it had free beer so we decided we couldn’t pass something like that up. Never having been to a stein hoisting competition, I did a little research. Found out that its basically an event where you hold a ‘stein’ of beer our in front of you with one hand for as long as you can. Rules being that you can’t spill anything, have to have a straight arm and the beer has to be full. Pretty simple. I saw on the Sam Adams website that this was a comp that was just a prelim round and that the winner had a chance to go on to Munich for next years Oktoberfest. Needless to say I was pretty excited about that. I also saw that the leader as of the day we went had hoisted his stein for a whopping 9 minutes and some change. I figured it couldn’t be that hard so I gave myself a 5 minute expectation to go for, I was off by a lot.

On to the comp, had all 4 housemates there, they gave us each a liter stein filled with water, nobody wanted to spill any precious beer after all and we were set to go. Ready, set, GO. And we were off. It didn’t take long for little Nick to drop his arm at like 2:15 and not long after at 2:30 I had to drop out as well. Zach and Andrew held on for a little longer with Andrew pulling it out in the end. I think he ended up getting a time of around 3:15. A lot harder than expected.

In the end we got a free round of Sam Adams Oktoberfest beers, which wasn’t too bad and went down smooth after all that exercise. We also each got a 0.5 liter mug that had the Oktoberfest logo on it as well. So walking away with a bad score in front of people I will never see again with a free mug and free beer was pretty alright in my book. We also found a new drinking game to play and it was a great live sporting event even though each ‘heat’ only lasted a max of about 4 minutes.

Free beer and glassware= good times.


Final Grade:B+

Autumn Brew Review (2011)

20 Oct

11th Annual Autumn Brew Review (2011)


This event was sprung on me by a roommate who stumbled upon 4 tickets and couldn’t pass up an afternoon of drinking free beer so he invited whoever would say yes. I would never pass up the opportunity to experience over 80 breweries from around the country (with a focus here on the midwest) sharing their wares to a crowd of thirsty people.

I can say that this event had me excited for the entire week before it happened, I was ready to go, I tried to come up with a game plan to try as many beers as possible in the 4 hour time limit that was given to us.

I don’t really know how to go about describing the experience, so I think I will go about it in stages. The first will be about the atmosphere, the second the people I was with and the food, and third and lastly the beers I tried. I will try to wrap it up with an overall summary but this could be a long one.

Ok first off, the atmosphere, it was crowded to say the least. There were lots of people but after the first half hour most of these people were just standing around so the lines to actually get the beer weren’t that long which was nice. Everybody there was ready to try good beers which was awesome, however I did see a few people (all women mind you) pour out of half full glasses of beer if they didn’t like them. I consider that blasphemous and would have those people removed if I was in charge. You don’t like beer? Well then this isn’t the place for you.

The people I was with, 3 other guys, however 2 of them more just learning about the amazing world of small time brewing so it was fun to share some knowledge and act like I was a big shot for a few hours and explain some things to them. The other friend was a little more knowledgeable so it was fun to talk to him about what I was really tasting and to see if he experienced the same things or not. So a good mix to the group, definitely a good group of people to go with. There were also some food options available, which we did have to hit up since we were rapidly becoming aware of how much alcohol was in some of these beers. I had a Chicago-style hot dog which was good but I should have eaten more before I came. Some good choices but I stuck with the cheapest and quickest so I could get back to the beer.

Ahh the beer, I will finally get to that. With there being over 80 breweries and each brewery having at least 3 different beers of theirs to sample, we went through a lot. With that being said I did not keep track of all the beers I tried, my pen didn’t keep up with my mouth. I will give you a list of the beers I tried and then any notes I got time to jot down in the midst of all this madness.

  1. Anchor Brewing-Humming Ale
  2. Boulevard – 2010 Harvest Ale
  3. Ommegang – 3 philosophers
  4. Great Divide – Smoked Baltic porter – this one was very smoky but well balanced
  5. Great Lakes – Oktoberfest – not as good as other oktoberfest options
  6. Jolly Pumpkin – La Roja – very tart, sweet a very different beer but this one stuck out more than many other ones throughout the event.
  7. Lakefront Brewing – Pumpkin Lager – this was amazing a great pumpkin beer and a lager at that!

    – India black ale – this was a hoppy beer that really brought forth the spices in the hops

  8. Mendocino – Red Tail Ale – a very malty brew
  9. Moylans – Kilt lifter – solid scotch ale

    – DIPA – very good, hoppy floral, fruity

  10. New Holland – Envious – a great hoppy/bitter IPA
  11. He’Brew – Freaktoberfest – blood red ale very different looking

    – Lenny’s Rye IPA

  12. Stone – Imperial Russian Stout
  13. Two Brothers – Hop Juice
  14. Victory – Hop Wallop
  15. Surly Brewing Co (one of the main reasons for 98% of the people there being there) – Smoke – this was a smoky brew with a light hop finish

    -2 – their 2nd anniversary ale, a very tart and bitter affair

    – tea bagged Bender – a hoppy aroma but then when you tasted it there were not many hops at all, like a normal bender.

So that was all the beers I had notes for. This was probably only a quarter of the beers I actually got to sample at this event. So in total probably 60-70 different beers I tried that afternoon/evening. Not even close to getting to half of what was being offered, I didn’t even see a quarter of the breweries stands as we ran out of time for that.

Overall, this was an amazing event. There were so many beers, so many breweries and definitely not enough time or liver space to make it possible for me to visit every brewery without hurting myself. Regardless I had a great time. Got to try some very select beers (Surly’s 2 being a beer that only a handful of people in the world will ever try) and some classics (Anchor Steam had their classics on hand).

I would say that the only negative things that I came across were that A) there was almost too much where you had to pick and choose, I didn’t like that. I wanted to experience everything, and tried my hardest to. B) there were no brewers on hand to answer an questions, just volunteers who poured. Which was fine but I had some questions throughout that I would have liked to get an answer to. Oh well, I can always write post cards.

This was a great time, I will definitely try to go back next year and with a year under my belt will be more prepared to take on what turned into a 4 hour power hour with beers ranging from 4% to 12%.


Final Grade: A+


7 Apr

The proposed Surly Destination Brewery

With a lot of support via social media a Senate panel unanimously passed the ‘Surly Bill’ last night. The bill will allow Minnesota breweries to sell their beer on-site, a practice that was previously prohibited. This is not the final step, but it was a huge one. Man, if this happens it’s gonna be SAWEEET!

Keep ’em comin’, Minneapolis!

28 Mar

A nice little Monday morning pick-me-up

Also, check out Fulton’s website at

Minnesota!!! Beer!!! Byah!!!

15 Feb


Minnesota. Winter. Beer. That’s all you need to know.

More Surly = Good

8 Feb

A twenty million dollar Surly brewery and beer garden?  Yes, please.

Yes We Bottle

8 Feb

President Obama and friends watched the Super Bowl with homebrews in hand (as well as Hinterland from Wisconsin and Yuengling from PA).  If there is one thing I will vote against every time, it’s honey ale.  But if it’s homebrewed in the White House, maybe I’d drink one.  Maybe…

It’s Monday morning and I’m feeling Surly

7 Feb

It's never too early for a Surly

As if you needed another reason to drink beer, Surly has officially declared February “Surly Fan Appreciation Month”.  What does this mean, you ask?  It means that there will be a constant stream of Surly-centered events including rare and discounted cervezas throughout the Twin Cities.  Too bad it ain’t a leap year.