On a Rainy Walk

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During my recent visit to Rochester, MN to see family, I took a short walk to grab a couple things at Walgreens in a neighborhood I had never been in before. It was a little rainy, and had been a long day – the kind that can really only be cured by a little alone time, a good walk, or a great beer.

On my walk back, I stumbled upon a sign for Forager Brewery, so I went on in. First I’ll say that these folks are nice. Midwest nice is still real even since I’ve left the region. I was welcomed by a host who let me know they operate a restaurant, brewery, coffee shop, and even a little market on the grounds I visited. The wood fire pizza smelled amazing.

I went to the bar to ask about some of their staples, and some of their more interesting beers. I was on a sour kick, so first I tried an Apricot & Wild Plum Sour (5.2% ABV, 20 IBU). You can tell someone spent some time working on this. It smells like wine with a little tartness. Your first sip will taste sharply sour and bubbly, and settle in slowly so that you enjoy every moment of this beer being perfectly refreshing. This sour has a pleasant aftertaste, and can only leave you feeling happy. If you don’t like sours, get ready to pucker up a little – it’s a risk – but a risk worth taking.

Next I tried the Imperial Blackberry Berliner (8% ABV, 5 IBU). If the Apricot & Wild Plum sounded too sharp for you, but you don’t mind a little more alcohol content, this may be the beer for you. This is a pretty straight forward beer – it tastes just like a good blackberry. Like the berry, this beer smells sweeter than it tastes – and a consistent taste stays in your mouth from the first sip. Unlike what you might think of a beer with such a sweet name, this one sits well in your stomach, and leaves room for you to have one more.

I couldn’t resist tasting one of the landmark IPAs made at Forager. Hip Hops IPA is one of the house favorites as recommended by my bartended – and I can see why. Your standard hop head loves this because it straight up smells like hops and tastes like hops. The first smell is crisp and piney, and when you taste, you can grab a hint of pineapple.

Everything I tasted here had good flavor, started with a little bite and really, really settled in well. The staff at Forger were great, friendly, and game to talk to you about what you’re looking to sip on so you have the best experience possible.

I should also add that at Forager you can find Kutzy Market – a locally sourced market, great food, awesome coffee, and can witness some great artwork (that you can even see  when you take a look at Forager’s Beers online). They appreciate art so much that the wall paper in their bathroom is old sheet music where you’re likely to find at least one classic you sang in high school choir.

This place doesn’t just have good beer – they have a personality and a mission. I recommend checking them out.

Check out more from Forager on their website, on Facebook & @ForagerBrewery on Twitter.

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Vintage Beer Saves My Day

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Most times that I am going to go somewhere that brews its own beer – I plan ahead, at least a day.  This time was different. I was having a bad morning. I had gotten a lot of bad news, I was behind on work, and my schedule had been thrown off by some meeting cancellations  This meant I could head to Madison, WI a little earlier that day than I had planned. Since it was a bad day, I texted my best friend in true Wisconsin fashion and said “when can you leave work to have a drink,” and she responded (again, as only a good Wisconsin friend would, “2:30.”

We walked into Vintage’s downtown location (there are two locations) closer to 3, and they let us start even though they didn’t open until 4. I had a Three Floyd’s Alpha King waiting for me – which made the day better right away. We started talking to the bartender about different places to get great beer. Unfortunately he had to leave to go brew some, but it was nice to know we had good, beer educated company. We looked at the list of beers brewed at Vintage Brewing Company. I told my friend I usually try four or five. She suggested we try all the beers available, so we did.

We started with the Bees Knees Crème Ale. It’s a great match for anything – and a wonderful standard beer if you’re looking for one. It tastes a lot like Leinenkugel’s Honey Weiss – with a little bit of a creamier blend. There’s really no way you won’t like it.

Next we tried one of everyone’s favorites, Better off Red Ale. It has a mild molasses smell, starts off with a bitter taste, but goes down nice, smooth, & easy going. It’s a great afternoon beer in my book. If I lived in Madison, I’d have this one after work all the time.

The Rye Bock was on its way out, but we got one of the last tastes. If you get a chance to try it you should. It tasted a little lighter than an average bock – but the flavor was really full. I wouldn’t recommend trying it with a nice dinner that you really want to taste – because it might off set you. But like any good spot in Wisconsin, Vintage has a lot of nice fried food favorites that would go well with this one.

For those of you who would prefer to have whisky instead of beer, the Dedication Abbey Dubbel is your kind of beer. It tastes like a nice whiskey and water, with a medium texture that’s perfect for beer lovers. So if you can’t decide between your favorite whiskey – and your favorite thing on draft, the Dedication is for you. But it’s strong, so be prepared for a kick.

I was most excited for the Woodshed IPA. This was another great example of a good warm weather IPA. If you’re a wheat beer, or fruity beer lover, but want to stop drinking beer that makes you feel full after two pints, this is a great transition. It has enough hops to satisfy the Pale Ale & IPA lovers of the world too. It’s a good hoppy, citrusy balance of wonderful springtime taste.

Last we tried the Scardy Cat Stout. It’s a nice, light, oatmeal stout with a full creamy flavor. This one is great as your last drink after dinner.

After we were done with the beer – we went to Dottie Dumpling’s Dowry for one of the best burgers you’ll have in Madison to end the day. It was overall a really uplifting experience and a great way to improve my mood the Wisconsin way.

I really liked my visit to Vintage. The staff knew exactly what they were talking about when it comes to beer – and I am all in to visit their brewing location on South Whitney Way next time I get to Madison. What’s great is that this stuff is made from all local ingredients (which you can also find lists of on their website). Vintage Brewers are great at making the beer light enough in texture that it’s easy to drink – but full enough in flavor that you appreciate the creativity across the board. That results in a lot of great anytime beers. On a scale from “This beer tastes like pennies,” to “I’m drinking anything else, ever,” this selection is like… a 6.9, and the experience as a whole is a 7.2. What I’m saying is, you should go if you’re in Madison & need a few hours to relax.

Things to Google before you Go:

Dottie Dumpling’s Dowry (it’s nearby – you have to go)

Wisconsin Hops

Wisconsin Cheese

More On the Beer:

http://vintagebrewingcompany.com/brews.php

Follow On Twitter:

@vintagebeer