Besides Swedish furniture, we also picked up some booze in Minnesota. Nationally, beer is distributed according to state laws, licenses, and proximity, so each state has a different mix of breweries from which to choose. Therefore, I knew what I had to do: go to Beer Advocate to research beer-friendly liquor stores in the Twin Cities area.
After weighing the ratings and geography, we decided to stop at Blue Max Liquors in Burnsville, near the I-35E/W split as you approach the cities from the south. It was a smaller store than I expected (rather cramped for space), but the selection did not disappoint.
In fact, I had a hard time deciding what all to purchase. After filling a certain beer blogger’s order, we bought a bunch of different stuff. Having heard all sorts of great things about Surly (mostly here) I knew that we would buy a 4-pack of each just to try them out. I’ve been very pleased with the smoothness of Bender, the peppery Saison(ish) flavor of CynicAle, and the hop blast of Furious. Haven’t tried the Coffee Bender yet.
Among other things we picked up (sorry the pictures suck):
Dark Horse “One”. Labeled an oatmeal stout ale, this stuff is syrupy. In texture and flavor, it is only slightly less intense than your average imperial stout. Very good.
Brau Bros. Braun Ale. I liked this one too. Dangerously drinkable and tasty. A malty brown, not a lot of hop presence.
Gray’s BULLY PORTER. Really. I had to pick this up, for obvious reasons. Interestingly, it is on the opposite end of the spectrum from our hometown’s namesake. Whereas Boulevard’s version has a dominantly dry-hopped flavor, this one is a bit on the sweet side. It’s a nice beer.
I picked up a bunch of other stuff too.
As I hauled the shopping cart to the register, I asked the fellow ringing me up how long Darkness (Surly’s Imperial Stout and one of the most elusive beers around) lasted on the shelves. The guy manning the next register said they received 5 cases (60 750-ml bottles) of the stuff at the end of October and sold it in 24 hours. I nodded my head and smiled, when suddenly my cashier told me to hold on for just a minute. He disappeared, and the other guy said, “I think he’s going to see Santy Claus”, in his Minnesota accent.
A couple minutes later, our cashier reappeared and said, quietly and secretively, “Do you want one? I can sell you ONE,” adding his index finger for emphasis.
He told the manager we were buying $160 worth of beer, so apparently we surpassed the secret Darkness threshold. I’m surprised no code words or secret handshakes were involved. It turns out they held a sixth case back for employees to sell themselves and potentially cellar for next year.
Of course, even at $18, I bought it.
The manager then came out and said, “I also have some of this.” He held up a bottle of Life & Limb, a collaboration between Dogfish Head and Sierra Nevada.
“The state of Minnesota got 5 cases. I got one of them. Would you like a bottle?”
So we walked out about $200 lighter.
Referring back to the title of this post…our next stop was at Trader Joe’s. We bought a case (12 bottles) of wine.
It cost $68.
No Three Buck Chuck either. We do draw a line somewhere; that stuff is awful. Especially when, for $2 or $3 more, you can drink a totally passable bottle of wine (at least for our apparently unrefined palates).