Northeast Brewery Tour, Minneapolis, MN

If you ever have an open, rainy, gloomy Saturday afternoon on your hands, you might want to fill it with a local brewery tour. Three of us whiled away all of a Saturday afternoon and evening doing just that. You can follow this route, or modify it to suit.
Dangerous Man Brewery
Indeed Brewery
612 Brewery
From left to right it's Dangerous Man, Indeed, 612...
All three are relatively close to each other, which makes doing this by bike very simple and can add extra safety for everyone involved. Of course, by car or by foot are also possible, depending on your group.
I was pleasantly surprised to find great places and great beers in each location. Not only that, but each was doing brisk business with plenty of people out and about. You also don't need to be worried about food, though these breweries don't serve any, they all have restaurants nearby or food trucks on-site to help curb any I'll effects of an afternoon of "sampling".
Wow, a great chocolate stout on a Saturday afternoon
Dangerous Man also does some pretty hoighty-toighty sodas, but damn if this Ginger-Black Currant wasn't awesome too
Wow, Indeed's Sweet Mamma Jamma, made with sweet potato... surprisingly good and an even better mouth feel with the Nitro pour
A couple of our Ocktoberfests at 612 - great this time of year. Is it time to hibernate yet?

Shoes I didn't buy...

...but sort of wish I had.
Didn't have my size left... but at $15, who wouldn't do ecto-plasm green?!
This is a Derrick Rose signature model... but those ain't no Bulls colors I've ever seen
Kind of funny that this pair from UnderArmor maybe the most innocuous of the three


The Blue Door Pub, St. Paul, MN

**Spoiler alert: This is going to be a tale of woe and heart-ache, with some redeeming qualities.**

If you live under a rock, or perhaps in what I call "The Lower 47", you may not know what a "Juicy Lucy" is. This is a now somewhat generic term for a specific item, like Kleenex or I can't think of another example right now. Basically, in Minnesota, the term "Juicy Lucy" describes a burger that has cheese stuffed into the middle of the (usually oversized) patty when made and cooked to order. In general, this coronary double-whammy is supposed to come to your table bubbling hot and even have the potential to scald your mouth if you bite into the molten cheese/meat combo too eagerly.

For whatever reason (or in fear of mouth burns), I have waited until just this past weekend to have my first real, honest-to-goodness Juicy Lucy in Minnesota... and the first one in my life for that matter. I decided to go a little out of the norm and not go to one of the well-known originators of said burger, but to a new upstart that's been getting good reviews, The Blue Door in St. Paul, MN.

I went with a friend. We had a very short wait for a table (which is not the norm) and ordered beers as we looked at the menu. Though the Blue Door likes to tought their "Blucy" (a Juicy Lucy made with blue cheese), we decided on their traditional Juicy Lucy offering, called the "Classic", and stuffed with a Tillamonk cheddar. We also wanted something a little over-the-top, so we rounded our or items to split with a "Breakfast Blucy". This is a Classic topped with more cheese, bacon, and a fried egg. I do like a fried egg on a burger. Order in!

Let me say - I was very stoked to be moments away from my first Juicy Lucys.

That level of "stokedness" only lasted a few bites into my first half (we split both burgers). It was a bit over done and dry. It almost didn't matter though as it was a later-than-normal dinner and I wolfed the half burger down in 3-5 bites. On to the next half... the Breakfast Blucy.

It only took another couple glances at this monster to realize, and I can't stress enough how much this is not a joke, there was no cheese cooked into the middle of this burger. It was empty. Just two patties stuck together and cooked longer than beef should be grilled.

This was by no means inedible, but it was far from the Juicy Lucy/Blucy I ordered.
I mentioned this to the twenty-something waitress who said nothing to ease my pain and something along the lines of, "yeah, all our burgers are pre-made". My friend thought she meant they cooked the burgers ahead of time... but I'm pretty sure the waitress meant all the Juicy Lucys/Blucys are hand-pattied in the morning, making sure the cheese and meat are all together before the orders come in and the burgers finally cooked. But no matter, there was no Juicy Lucy in my mouth that night. And to add insult to (gastro) injury, there was no discount or comp'ed items on the bill when the check came.
So, I did what any red-blooded American would, I tried to call and regale them with my plight the next day, but to no avail. Their phone just rang and rang. So, on Monday, I took to the interweb and found contact info for their catering manager. I emailed her and asked her for the proper contact. She emailed me back within an hour or so and I emailed the owners/managers.
It took about 24 hours to hear back from them, but they told me how bad they felt for my bad experience, that their staff is always given the power to make a customer happy, and they would like to send me a giftcard to cover my first visit and give them another shot at my second, first time. Now, that's how you right a wrong. Sounds good to me, see you soon...
Note: I will be updating this post once I go back to Blue Door and have my second, first-time... stayed tuned, Sportsfans.


Bar La Grassa, Minneapolis, MN

I've heard such good things about this restaurant and only minor negatives, like "always busy", that it was high-time I went and tried it for myself. And boy was I glad I did...
While this might have seemed like a seat "in the back", I was kind of pumped to see the hustle and bustle of the kitchen staff. They didn't seem to have much of a lull the whole time we were there... cool hats too.
Pretty simple Italian menu... go from left to right and keep eating. We tried our best.
Even the bread was top notch and fresh... I added table salt to our sweet-cream butter though
THIS IS THE ONE TO GET - Soft Eggs with Lobster Bruschetta. WOW! This was like a fancy version of a lobster roll... if it was made with eggs. At $18 for this appetizer, I still think it was a steal
Gnocchi with Cauliflower and Orange seems to get a lot of press, but I wasn't terribly impressed. Not much cauliflower and not a very pronounced orange flavor, at least on my palate. Of course, there were many competing flavors during the course of this meal... and the gnocchi itself would make an Italian grandmother cry - bravo!
Bucatini with Bolognese... now this is what an Italian craves and it hit the spot - Mamma Mia!
Dark Chocolate Pot de Creme (L) Nutella Banana Roll-Up thingy (R)...though I forget the fancy French word for it. Both very good, but lets face it... it has dark chocolate and "de creme", it's like one of the best puddings ever.
If you have any reason or whim to visit this establishment, don't be like me and wait for the right time, just go. You won't be disappointed. There are seats in the back bar (looking over the kitchen) and front bar, which can keep the need for a special occasion at bay while you try their gastronomic delights after work or on a weeknight. I even saw people dressed MN-casual and no one seemed to bat an eye.

Snack time.

Sometimes we get a nice treat at work. It's interesting how even a slice of pumpkin pie makes a person feel a little more special.


Science Museum of Minnesota, St. Paul, MN

I have mixed feelings about this trip, but overall this is a great science museum. Looking back I made two critical errors and wound up spending too much money for it... but it was my first trip and I didn't know any better. I'll know better next time and can help you avoid any issues when you go.
To start, this place is quite big. Many floors of fun and exploration for kids and adults alike. The money I spent on the $28 ticket went to general admission, a 36-minute IMAX movie, and timed entry into a special exhibit. I hadn't done enough research going in (mistake #1) and basically blindly bought all the passes (mistake #2).
The IMAX and special exhibit were on the Maya. Now, I have nothing against the Maya as a culture and people, but do I really need a double-dose of the Maya history in a single 2-3 hour visit? Sorry, I don't. Looking back, I would choose to do the Maya IMAX movie and forego the seemingly sparse special exhibit.
I also did not have enough time to check out the normal exhibits in the museum in depth and would gladly go back, pay for general admission, and do that on a rainy (or snowy) day. I should have plenty of opportunities real soon.
Looking down from Level 5 (I think). The layout is inverted as you walk in from very high at street level and then go down in the museum to river level
You can just see the dino bones from here

Pretty intricate work for centuries old stuff

I don't vividly recall seeing dinosaur bones from my youth, but even if I did, they have an impressive display. One of their sets is one of only four complete sets known to exist in the world
And I had no real idea how HUGE Triceratops really was/is. This thing is massive. They do not like it when you try to "ride it like a bull", I found out later...


Quote of the Day

There is limitless strength and power from being positive, clear minded, organized, thoughtful, honest, and truly happy. Almost all experts agree, and clinical research supports it - Todd Schumlick - Perform X Racing

Goto: http://www.pinkbike.com/news/Carpet-Sweat-and-Brainwaves.html



Music: Foals - My Number

I like the 80's retro-sound... if that's what they were going for...


Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, MN

During a self-guided tour of the outdoor sculpture garden, we found this little guy hiding out in a garden display that we'd never seen in full bloom previously. He/She seemed hard at working, getting it done before the season changes. Oh, the flower also adds a great color to the images too...very pretty down this backstretch of the sculpture garden.


Minneapolis Farmers' Market Annex, Iron Creations.

If you stroll past the flower wholesaler and peek around the corner, you'll find a good sized yard of steel and iron creations, of many shapes and many subjects. You better ask yourself, "Is my yard/house missing that certain something?" This may be it.
Fly little piggies!
That's 'Merica, dammit!
This place got a little cheeky... look past the rooster to the "gal" on the wall... kind of risque for a farmer's market.


Minneapolis Farmers' Market, The Double Down.

Who doesn't often get the urge to put on an outfit that "matches" top to bottom? Instead of suppressing those feelings like the rest of us, these ladies took it to a new level. And make no mistake about it, these were not the only ones we found...but some people walk faster than I can get out my phone/camera.

Minneapolis Farmers' Market Annex, Scariest Clown Ever.

I really was scared of this man. If I had kids, I would stop attending this farmers' market, just on principle. I don't know how he stays in business...must be amazing balloon animals.


Lions Tap, Eden Prairie, MN

If you want a good burger, friendly service, in-house brews, all wrapped up in a slice of Americana, this is the place. Places like this are becoming more rare everyday in the US...and I'm not talking about the beef.
Speaking of beef, the double bacon cheeseburger was a great way to start of this new restaurant relationship, washed down with their Oatmeal Stout.
One of the cleanest menus I've ever seen... but you may not be happy if you're a veg.
Yes, that's the good china.
This was a beast but delicious... and don't ask for medium-rare, IMO

The Responsible Economy, Patagonia


Paracord Bracelet

I made this over the weekend...now I need to find out what I'm going to do with it.


MN State Fair, Odd Balls

No public event of this size is complete without some wack-a-doos from the general population of the US and, in this case, Minnesota specifically.

And this fair did not disappoint. I escpecially liked/was frightened by the woman smoking and drinking beer, while intoxicated, and while using a walker down the streets! Then again, maybe she's really on to something... Why not use a walker when you know you're going to get stumble-drunk at a public event? Smart.

Plus, plenty of other "fun" things to see at the fair:
Though I may never fully understand this, I think I have it figured out. They make sculptures, out of butter, for each of the women in the "court" at the fair. You can see the sculptor's legs behind this "butter bust" as she's in the chilled cooler scultping another woman, who is also sitting right there in the cooler... winter coat on and all. This is NOT a joke.

Gander Moutntain, smart as they are, decided to set-up a "Relaxation Station" in their area. Boy oh boy was it well-used. 

This guy could have slept through a snowstorm.

And were you in the market for a beer bottle night light? You know, so you can find the toilet when you get up to hurl...

You're right, I needed one more butter sculpture pic!


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