Oberon Street* (4/30)

April 4, 2018

poetry 4-30 four beers

Sunny Day
Drinking my cares away
On my way to where the wheat is sweet

Can you tell me how to get,
How to get to Oberon Street

Drink all day
Everything’s A-OK
Friendly beer store’s where
I meet my needs

Can you tell me how to get
How to get to Oberon Street

It’s a magic summer ale
I enjoy it without fail
I’m happy through and through—
Summer in a beer
We’re all happy here

Sunny Day
I suddenly feel OK
On my way to where my sleep is deep

Can you tell me how to get,
How to get to Oberon Street…


*Original Sesame Street theme song lyrics © Sesame Workshop

Terms of Use | Sesame Street

Referenced in good faith for this personal project

Original Sesame Street theme song

Jimmy Fallon, Sesame Street & The Roots Sing “Sesame Street” Theme (w/ Classroom Instruments)



My cat picked out my sushi

August 21, 2014

Mackerel and sea bream cat food

Last Sunday, the Open Streets folks did one near my neighborhood. Open Streets is when a stretch of a road is closed to cars for a day and non-motorized folks get to go nuts on it. I’d been aware of previous events but hadn’t made it to one, so I was excited that I’d have to put forth minimum effort to attend this one.

But to be perfectly honest, the day was one of extreme relative humidity—something gross, like, the dew point was 69F and the air temperature was 71F (21C/22C). I had texted my bikey friend, Jon, at noon to inquire whether he would be toodling over, then stuck my big toe out the front door and immediately decided I wasn’t going out in that, and settled in to watch some Grand Hotel.* After the second episode I decided I at least needed to take a shower because, even inside in air conditioning, I was feeling sticky and yucky. I stood up, checked my phone, and realized that Jon had replied in the affirmative almost right away. I texted him, thinking I’d be lucky if he was still out. I was very lucky because not only was he still out but he was at my end of the two mile stretch of the open street.

Well, fine. I hated the thought of going out in that weather, yet knew I’d regret it if I didn’t finally check out such a convenient Open Streets, and knew I’d appreciate a shower more after I returned home. I met him in the beer garden in the parking lot of my local liquor store.

Dear Open Streets,
I ride my bike back and forth to work every day across two vectors of downtown, Victor. I thought suburban SUV-driving commuters who can’t think outside the car were the bane of my existence. Not so. In that one tiny ride during your event, one-half mile to a neighborhood business I often bike to anyway, I realized that, really, pedestrianing parents with cherubic children are far, far worse. No cars on the street? No motors to listen for to give us audio cues as to how to behave in common space? No problem. No trajectory is too weavy for us to wobble along. I’m riding a bicycle? I might as well be a semi-truck hurtling toward your Croc-shod toddler. You sneer in my general direction.


Beer and band gardenIn hindsight I’m very glad that, when I found Jon and said that I wouldn’t mind riding to the other end and back, he informed me that he had already done so twice and was just going to order another beer. Here’s to neighborhood brewery Harriet Brewing’s Woden Weizen!

Being the humid, unsettled weather it was, the sky soon unleashed another round of showers. Jon and I gamely stood in the rain because, let’s face it, neither of us is fancy, and it felt good. Unlike previous showers that day, though, this one lasted for more than three-and-a-half minutes. It wasn’t bad for us spectators but unfortunately for the band that was playing, the tent-shelter that was protecting them decided to let loose into the keyboard its load of water. That put a damper on the vibe.

But I digress.

I quipped to Jon that I’d still be willing to ride to the other end but he came up with a far better idea. I’m finally getting to the sushi portion of the story.

Across from the liquor store is a fairly new Thai restaurant which also has a sushi bar. It’s really like two restaurants in one. Jon said, nah, let’s just go to Sober Fish and engage in their happy hour. Okay, twist my arm, Croc-shod toddlers!

Lagunitas IPA and Sober Fish shot glassI was glad when he suggested ordering sushi items rather than Thai noodle stuff (which I do like but I was more in the mood for sushi). I was also glad when I saw Lagunitas IPA on the fairly short beer list. Lagunitas IPA goes well with raw fish things. Then I was horrified when he seemed eager to also order the house shot which consisted of cucumber vodka, ginger something, and something else. In the old days I did enjoy my vodka tonic, and in these new days I mix my Pimm’s with cucumber soda (during the two weeks of Wimbledon). Then I saw that you got to keep the shot glass.** I wasn’t too hard a sell on that, then, either.

The drinks were the easy part. It turned out that I like rolls and Jon likes sashimi. Also, we had never collaborated on a food order before so there was that awkwardness, “what do you like?” “Oh, no, what do YOU like?” I’m finally getting to the cat part of the story.

Jon made a hard sell for mackerel sashimi. I countered with advocating for spicy tuna roll. I like that a lot, and when I eat at a new sushi place it’s sort of my benchmark. Not too sophisticated in the big scheme of things but there you go. We decided we’d order both forms.

There were many sashimi choices. Tuna is my favorite raw fish in general, but I’ll always try anything once. Not that mackerel is so exotic. It’s not. Then I comprehended some of the other choices on the sashimi list and formed my opinion as to what else we should select.

As I said, Jon was a big fan of mackerel. I saw that sea bream was also on the list. So I said yes to the mackerel and suggested the sea bream as well.

Why? This is why.

A while ago I decided to bite the bullet on cost and serve my lovely cats wet food because it’s significantly better for their health than dry food. I like to get them the tuna-based kinds, and the tuna almost always includes some other seafood as an accent. The canned food ain’t cheap so I’ve been determining the best balance between ingredients and cost. Along the way I added a third cat, thereby half-againing the cat food budget, so I could no longer afford to buy the tiny cans of best-quality, tuna-based food and instead have had to figure out what’s next best.

I’ve settled on a couple of brands, one of which is pictured above. The store carries four varieties—shrimp (30¢ more per can), sardine, mackerel, and sea bream. Sea-what? Never heard of it.

Empty platesWe ordered my spicy tuna roll and also a caterpillar roll because Jon likes eel, and I like that sweet sauce that usually accompanies it. For sashimi we ordered the mackerel and, as our second sashimi selection at my behest, the sea bream. Do you see where I’m going with this?

My decision-making process: if it’s good enough for the cats, it’s good enough for me. Let’s go for it!

The mackerel was salty and firm and reminded me of smoked salmon or smoked trout. The sea bream was at the opposite end of the spectrum—tender, mild, and nutty. Jon hadn’t had it either and seemed pleasantly surprised by it.

I am embarrassed to admit that it was Jon and not I who said/thought, “This would make a good blog entry.” By that time, the sea bream and mackerel were long gone and we were down to one gyoza.


* If, by chance, you start watching Grand Hotel based on this brief mention, stick with it long enough to realize that Inspector Ayala reminds you exactly and completely of Hercule Poirot, which won’t actually take you that long. You will be richly rewarded in episode 23.

** Until that Sober Fish outing, I didn’t actually possess a shot glass. What I do have is a set of four antique aperitif, shot-sized glasses. But they’re delicate, textured glass. They were my grandparents’, and I’m always terrified that it will take only one gentle yet errant tap on the side of the Mason jar into which I mix my Wimbledon Pimm’s to shatter it to pieces. It was an easy sell to convince me order a shot that would resulting my owning a chunky, heavy-duty, actual shot glass. I guess the shot was okay. It was not much like cucumber or ginger, very sweet, and Ecto-Cooler green. One could get into trouble with them …

my happy refrigerator

I interrupt my regularly scheduled blog posts for this important news: I have twelve bottles of my favorite new-to-me beer in my refrigerator! Well, ten, because I gave one to my neighbor to try (she likes it, hey Mikey!) and I’m sitting outside drinking one at this very moment.

(Full disclosure: I wrote the first half of this a week ago when it was 80F/26C, clear, and perfect for sitting outside. Tonight, it is 58F/14C, drizzly, and miserable. I don’t feel like drinking beer at all…)

white cap white ipaLet’s get the business taken care of first. Hinterland White Cap White IPA is a pleasant, slightly-cloudy yellow beer that pours with a fizzy, long-lasting head that can be easily reagitated. It isn’t extremely aromatic but when you taste it, it’s an explosion of pink grapefruit in your mouth! That might lead some people to believe that it’s problematically bitter, but that’s not the case. White Cap is only 4.3% alcohol by volume so it all stays in balance. I say best part because I began to experience big beer burnout this summer. I am thrilled that many breweries have started producing smaller versions of hoppy varieties which are still big on flavor, and this is one of them.

white cap and tuna tartareI first encountered White Cap at Ginger Hop in northeast Minneapolis. It was my third trip to that bar-restaurant for their tuna tartare starter which has become an occasional payday treat to myself. It’s chopped, raw tuna that has been tossed in lime juice and sesame oil and is served as a mound of perfection topped with fresh cilantro and accompanied by buttered crostini. It’s perfect for a hot day, and so is White Cap.

I’m always up for trying something new, especially when it’s an IPA (my favorite style), so when I learned that an IPA that I had never had was on the menu, I ordered it without hesitation.

kelly and white capToday was a windy, unseasonably warm day here in Minnesota. Combine that with the diminished daylight that fall brings and even in the early evening, we have my preferred conditions for enjoying a beer—at home, sitting on my steps, after dark, warmly windy. And the White Cap is a perfect beer for warm days.

It’s true that White Cap is just good, but I’m trying to decide why I think it’s soooo good. I think I can pinpoint two reasons. The first, I’m sure, is what I said up above about being tired of the high ABV that has been the fashion almost regardless of style, and even (dare I say it) the trend of making every hoppy beer an out-and-out hop bomb. White Cap is gentle in both regards.

The second reason is because of what I think of as the Jameson Effect. Ever so many years ago, I attended an outdoor festival. Let’s call it 2001. It was a beastly hot day in July at a rib cook-off in a surface parking lot downtown—a very localized urban heat island. There weren’t many adult beverage choices. I had tipped over the divide to craft beer, so rather than slum it with the Coors Light or the malt beverage on offer, I chose the only other alternative—Jameson Irish Whiskey. At the time I was still more of a vodka gal if I had booze but I though what the heck and, since it was a stinky-hot day, asked for one on the rocks. The sweltering heat with oppressive humidity under the bare sun on asphalt with the smell of twenty kinds of ribs wafting through the air while watching Harry Casey & the Sunshine Band work their asses off on the music stage provided the perfect atmosphere for that Jameson to be the best drink I had ever had. Ever since then for sentimental reasons, every summer I buy a small bottle of Jameson to have on hand for the inevitable return of that kind of weather.

The first time I had White Cap was also during uncomfortable summer conditions, but not as extremely as the Jameson incident. The temperature was only around 80/26, but the dew point was in the mid-70s/24, so you worked up a sweat just lifting your pint glass to your lips. My Ginger Hop tuna tartare was on order and I eagerly gulped the first couple of sips of the beer. It was the hot weather magic all over again.

Eager to enjoy my new favorite at home, I looked for it at my local liquor stores to no avail. The distributor was no help, other than identifying that they were the carrier, but armed with that information, I got Chris at Sorella Wine & Spirits interested in the quest. Eventually he was successful and the result is tonight’s bounty!

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
This is what has transpired in the last week since I began writing this post. The very day after I acquired my booty, I attended the Autumn Brew Review beer tasting festival which is put on by the Minnesota Craft Brewers Guild. If any of my Original Gravity friends have checked in, you might want to stop reading here 😉

kelly and mitchellI found the Hinterland table which was awkwardly unbusy. On the other hand, that gave me the opportunity to strike up a conversation with the regional brewery representative, Mitchell. He wasn’t pouring White Cap but he did have Saison. I eagerly tried that as it’s a favorite style and it, too, was a delight—a solid representation of the style but instead of sweet-spicy it was black pepper-spicy. I love pepper notes in beer.

While we were talking, Mitchell revealed that he was there alone with no back-up. Since to pour (but for Original Gravity but they were over-volunteered and I didn’t seem particularly needed) was the reason why I had gained entry to the festival, I offered to man the Hinterland table so that he could walk around for a short while. He gave me a crash course in the Saison and the Oktoberfest and away he went.

This is the weird thing about me and tasting festivals: as much as I love trying new beers, I about ninety per cent loathe being out in the beer fest crowd as a patron. I realized that about an hour into my first large festival four times ago. I pleaded with my Original Gravity buddies to let me help out and so they threw me into the fire behind the Alaskan table. Once I switched sides I had a blast, and that’s how I’ve been enjoying tasting mayhem since. This is also one of the few situations in which I’d say I’m actually good at and enjoy schmoozing.

kelly and a canSo I was happy to help Mitchell out. You can’t fault me. I’m enthusiastic about beer that I like and that’s one of the things you like about me. He told me to wait a minute and dashed over to his car which was just across the street. He handed me two sixteen-ounce White Cap cans and said that I am the first consumer in Minnesota (or possibly anywhere, I don’t remember which) to possess them. I stuffed them in my jacket pockets and didn’t tell anyone. Until now. You people with cabins and boats, remember this for next summer.

So just one more thing before I wrap up this post that has gone on for longer than you ever thought it could, though to be fair this is like two entries in one with the week-separated writing sessions.

Tonight I cracked open the cans. As I was taking my traditional photo of the poured beer and its container, I noticed that the can design is quite a bit different from the bottle label design. The rocks and Lake Michigan photo from the label has been simplified and graphic-ized for the can, and though the typefaces are the same, the entire treatment of the can design reminds me more of a geographic atlas map. But that’s not the interesting part.

The interesting part is that I re-noticed the word white in the name. Not the white in White Cap, but the white in White IPA. I had ignore that second white with the draught and bottle versions because all I tasted was the grapefruit. But when I poured the can version, smelled it, and tasted it, I realized that the aroma I got from all three versions was the white-as-in-Belgian-style sweetness. And oddly, unexpectedly, the canned version of White Cap White IPA to me tastes more white-as-in-Belgian-style than the draught or bottle versions. I’d better compare against the bottle. I know that sorting the photos I want to add to this post will take at least another beer…

The bottle tastes a little more Belgiany than on previous occasions. My official assessment is that that’s just how my palette is tonight. Such is the joy of beer!

*The events presented are factual, though to help the narrative I may have massaged timelines somewhat.

My history of beer

September 23, 2013

Kelly and Oberon

I’ve been asked by a couple people recently how I came to adore beer as I do. If those folks were curious, maybe you are, too.

I always liked beer well enough, I suppose. In my youth in the early 80s, I tended to favor Stroh’s and Michelob. You can’t judge me—craft beer as we think of it today didn’t exist. I probably favored mixed drinks at that point anyway; I remember being quite fond of brandy old fashioneds at one point. The college years saw me drinking whatever macro beer was in the house party keg. Even in my thirties, I liked vodka tonics best, but it is at that point that I had my first memorable beer experience.

Kelly and NewcastleIt was 1995 and I was spending a lot of time at Rosen’s, the bar next door to my office building. I had graduated to “dark beer” by that point which occasionally meant Guinness Draught, but Newcastle Brown Ale was far and away my favorite. My friends and I ordered some cheese sticks to accompany the beer. Rosen’s, like most places, served them with marinara sauce for dipping. I took a sip of my Newcastle to wash down the dressed cheese and was utterly gob smacked by the burst of cherry flavor that I suddenly detected in the beer. Where had that come from?! I tried the combination at other establishments, but nobody else’s marinara did that to the Newcastle. It was eye-opening in a way I didn’t yet have the knowledge to comprehend (I didn’t yet know of the concept of intentionally pairing drink flavors with food flavors beyond, you know, the basic red wine with meat, white wine with fish). But sitting here writing about it eighteen years later, I still remember the moment at the tall table in the front window like it was last week.

Kelly and Summit EPADuring the passing years I began to add Summit Extra Pale Ale to my “dark” beer repertoire, because that and Guinness were what my bowling alley had on offer. Because Summit was a nice caramelly, amber color as opposed to see-through yellow, it was considered ”dark.” This was still early craft days; I had no idea that Summit was a craft beer. This wasn’t one of my epiphanal beer moments but it bears mentioning, it think, because Summit EPA is the original craft beer in town and remains one of the best and one of my favorites, even with all the upstarts that have come onto the scene.

Fast forward to 2005. One of my bowling friends was well into wine, and invited me to a wine tasting on Nicollet Island. I dutifully tagged along, listening to him geek out on trying to learn things about wine. I enjoyed tasting different wines and gaining a little knowledge, and I really enjoyed the food samples from local restaurants and wished they served bigger bites. I eventually found myself wandering over to the side tent where there were a few brewery tables set up.

Thinking back, I suppose Summit had one of the tables, but it was the Bell’s Brewing beers that I was most interested in sampling. A coworker adored their Two Hearted Ale so I wanted to taste that one, though I hadn’t yet gone to the hop side (that could be a whole other post about me and beer!). I tried the three or four brews that they had there, and it was the Oberon wheat ale that tickled my fancy. I took my sample and went back into the main room.

The first food table I encountered was manned by the chef from Murray’s Steak House who was sautéing up some buttered steak and mushroom bites. I love steak. I love mushrooms. I love butter. I ate the sample. I washed it down with the last couple sips of Oberon. And that was when I had my beerpiphany.

Just as the Rosen’s marinara had done something to the Newcastle, so did the steak-mushroom-butter combination transform the Oberon into one of the most amazing taste moments I still have ever had. All the flavors complimented each other perfectly. That was when I realized that beer could be something special.

As I aged, I eased into hops, and focused my consumption on IPAs. The craft beer movement took off and there was more beer in more styles available. My same coworker who liked Bell’s Two Hearted also adored Chimay Rouge Belgian trippel. That was another style that I just didn’t like the taste of. Yet.

Three Philosophers ready to serveNow it’s 2009. Some friends of friends moved from California to Minneapolis and we became friends. They are foodies and drinkies. They invited me over for Thanksgiving dinner. They did the research and figured out that Ommegang Three Philosophers Belgian quad was just the right beer to serve with one of the courses. To me it didn’t taste as “Belgiany” as Chimay had when I had tried it. And again, it paired absolutely perfectly with the food. Are you noticing a trend yet? The Three Philosophers had a milder Belgian flavor along with prune and cherry (but there was no marinara in sight). I tried other Ommegang beers (which are mostly all Belgian-style of one sort or another) and found them all to be gentle versions of their styles. I decided maybe Belgian beers weren’t so bad after all.

By now, a couple of years ago in 2011, I had embraced the craft beer movement with full enthusiasm. I had beer geek friends and many acquaintances in the industry. I eagerly tried new, different beers whenever I could. I started attending beer classes. I was voluntarily ordering Belgian beers and liking them.


Within the Belgian genre live sour beers. And within sour are lambic and Flanders. I tried to wrap my taste buds around sours because many beer drinkers who knew far more than I really liked them and I wanted to be on par with my beer-smart friends. But I was struggling to get to a point where I could drink more than a sip or two.

Finally, one of the classes was about sour beers. We had samples of several of the major styles, including a Flanders. And then it happened again. As soon as the class leader described it as tasting like a barnyard or a horse blanket, I turned the corner. Now, those funky Flanders beers are my favorite of the sours. Horse blanket. HORSE BLANKET! What a fun way to think of a flavor! I’m glad I persisted in my effort.

I suppose the broad takeaway from this is that trying new things can lead to incredibly rewarding experiences. When you’re contemplating whether to go with something outside your comfort zone, remember, you’re not making a lifetime commitment and you might very well surprise yourself.

Horse blankets!

notes from the Belgian/sour beer class

beerI guess people know how easily influenced I am. Tori said, “you should vlog that.” I popped the top and thought, OKAYYY!

I’ve speeded up the video one and a half times because, due to the extemporaneous nature of my expounding, I was speaking quite slowly and deliberately. Magnifying the speed takes up less of your time and it makes me giggle, and maybe you, too. So it’s a win all around.

It also disguises how tight my Minnesota vowels are. Listen to how I say growler. Or, grohhler, apparently. It’s like I’m Canadian, or from Fargo or something, eh? And beer. I say that really tightly, too. But hopefully you won’t be able to hear my northern accent. Really, my whole mouth is tense when I speak, it seems.

Anyway, I may regret posting this but I also like to have fun, and I like to think I don’t take myself too seriously.

Video blog: drinking a growler from Kelly Doudna on Vimeo.

Update: The trouble I was having with the originally-posted version of the video was because I rotated the upside down segment to be right side up in iMovie 09 and the audio didn’t keep up. So I have undone that action and it has solved the problem. I should upgrade to iMovie 11.

Also, watch Tori’s video response to my video, link is in her comment below.