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 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.

Except…

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

Earliestmemory_thennow_blog

These two photos are the earliest and latest ones I have of myself. What has happened in between? Funny you should ask. Let’s take a look.

Ages ½–10

I’d swear I remember when the baby picture was taken. I have other toddler memories, such as what the kitchen in our first house in Manteno, Illinois, looked like. Yellow and floral.

We spent many summers in Bloomington, Indiana, while my dad worked on his PhD at Indiana University. He finished the work but his committee denied him of the degree.

To this day I have dreams that involve the house on Main Street in Ada, Ohio, where I grew up. I’d love to get back inside that house for a look. I remember listening to Winnie-the-Pooh and Peter and the Wolf records in the living room on our big, console stereo. It was a big deal when I got to operate it myself. We moved to a different house when I was eight.

Ages 11–20

Our new house was a block inside city limits. Most of the time I’d walk or bike to school, but if I wanted to ride the schoolbus, I walked over to Grandview Boulevard.

I spent countless hours in the city swimming pool. I spent countless hours playing Kick the Can with the neighborhood kids. I crashed my friend’s brand new bike that I rode around while she was inside eating supper. There was a horse at the end of the block, where the town suddenly turned into the country. There was a woods at the end of the block that seemed very big at the time. In it there was a treehouse.

We moved to Wisconsin two days before I turned fifteen. During the first year, my sophomore year in high school, it was novel and fun and not completely awful because it was to the small city where my grandparents lived and I already had a couple of friends. Then in my junior year, I grew to resent having been plucked from where I had grown up. I became a troubled teen. I stayed out all night one time without communicating with my parents. I broke up with my boyfriend which upset my parents who liked him a lot. Their reaction was very formative. I considered dropping out of high school.

I worked as a professional radio deejay.

I graduated high school.  I started college. I dropped out of college.

I moved out of the house. I moved into the house.

I went back to college. I dropped out of college.

I moved out of the house. I moved into the house. I still have nightmares that for one reason or the other, I have been forced to move back in with my parents at my current age with my youth issues, such as no boys in my bedroom.

Ages 21–30

I started technical college. I transferred technical colleges. I dropped out of technical college.

I moved out of the house. I went back to college. I dropped out of college. Rinse and repeat.

I moved to Minneapolis, Minnesota, to go back to college. I finished college! My mom proudly told a friend that I was graduating at age twenty-six. Her friend asked what my PhD was in. Sadly, it was just my bachelor’s degree, in English, after eight years.

I went to Europe for the first time on a trip with my parents that was a graduation present.

I worked for a year at a job that was pretty dead-end but which got me lots of promotional copies of albums on cassette. I decided to go to graduate school.

I moved to Madison, Wisconsin, to go to the University of Wisconsin for meteorology. I learned that a boy who had been one of my best friends growing up and who also went to Wisconsin for meteorology was, in fact, gay and that we’d never have that chance to get together that I had been denied when my parents ripped me away at age fifteen.

I flunked out of graduate school when I failed calculus for the second time. I began to get serious about bowling.

I went to the local technical college, Madison Area Technical College, and met Chris Gargan. I graduated with my commercial art degree and have been a graphic designer ever since.

Ages 31–40

I moved back to Minneapolis. I worked through a temp agency and met my two best friends, Jim and California Rob. I became employed at my current position which I’ve held for over sixteen years. Oh my goodness, I began to grow up!

I became a published author, though not in the way I imagined as a kid. But my name now appears in the Library of Congress, so that’s something.

I went to the United Kingdom for the first time and fell in love with it. I realized that London is my soulmate. I will live there someday.

I got more serious about my bowling.

Age 41–present

Along with other spending, all of my trips to England contributed to my declaring personal bankruptcy. I learned that it’s not actually that difficult, in the big scheme of things, to live without credit. Except for being deprived of more trips to England.

I kept getting more serious about my bowling. People think I’m joking when I say I take three balls with my to league. The people who are really serious take six or eight.

California Rob moved to California. Jim got married. Possibly in the opposite order. I began my descent into curmudgeonhood.

Oddly, still in my bankruptcy, I was able to procure a mortgage and buy my first home, a condominiumized apartment. Gotta start somewhere. The housing market tanked. I am stuck unless I want to take a significant loss in my selling price.

I began to develop my love of craft beer. I hate saying “craft beer” because it’s such a buzz-term right how. But if more people like it, more will be made and that’s not a bad thing. My gateway beers were Bell’s Oberon and the local Summit Extra Pale Ale.

I have slowly and surely been gaining weight.

Last night, I picked up a twelve-pack of Summit’s Silver Anniversary Ale. Then I went to the preseason meeting for my Monday bowling league. Then I stopped at a bar that had a firkin of a special, grapefruit-infused version of Odell Brewing St. Lupulin Extra Pale Ale, a current favorite of mine. I was chit-chatting with the young patrons on either side of me about beers in general and India Pale Ales (my preferred variety) in particular. My bartender asked me—almost accusingly, as though I were a spy for a distributor—who I worked for. When I said a small graphic design company, he blinked and said, “You know a lot about beer.”

That made me feel really good.

Tonight, I enjoyed some of that Summit Silver Anniversary Ale.

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You’re going to have to live with a few goofy pictures of me. BECAUSE I WENT TO BELL’S!!! When I think back on it, my enlightenment via Oberon might have been my entry into my current beer obsession.

Unfortunately, my sojourn to Michigan was due to my visiting my cousin in the hospital. I knew I-94 would be taking me right past the mothership, but because of the timing regardless of the direction, it wouldn’t work out for me to experience much enjoyment. I’d have either 100 or 550 miles still to drive after having been there. The impetus of the trip was not pleasure so I didn’t feel like I could take an extra night to pause in Kalamazoo.

But I couldn’t not at least drive past the place. So on my way back to Minneapolis from Ann Arbor, I made it work as best I could. I had consulted the Bell’s website and thought I had learned that about all I’d be able to do would be to drive up to the place, take my picture, and drive off.

The brewery (the existing brewery in Kalamazoo, versus the new facility under construction just out of town in Galesburg) is conveniently located right on Business 94, minimizing the effort required to find it. It’s a very unassuming group of small buildings and, in fact, I almost drove right by.

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I was delighted to discover that the General Store was open. I dutifully dropped a couple bucks on Oberon and Two Hearted t-shirts, as well as this bottle of Wedding Ale which is only available at the brewery.

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I was excited when the guy in the store told me that the Eccentric Café, the brewery’s bar, opened at 11:00 rather than noon as I had been under the impression. That meant I only had twenty minutes to wait. As I had eaten breakfast at 7:00, I was ready for lunch.

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In the meantime, I walked back to the brewery and saw a load of fresh barrels waiting to go somewhere. Kalamazoo seems to be pretty old and railroady; I wish I could have taken time to drive around and explore a little. I bet there’s a lot of neat architecture. Bell’s is situated where three tracks intersect.

At long last, the twenty minutes had passed and Carly opened the door to the café. She probably rolled her eyes behind my back when she saw me sitting on the steps, having slipped the Oberon t-shirt on over my other shirt. Oh well. It’s people like me who make her establishment a destination.

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When I saw the beer board, I was supremely sad that I couldn’t partake. In addition to all the varieties that have made it to Minnesota, there were a bunch of others that are only available on draught at the brewery, the ones with the yellow tags by their names. I couldn’t stand it. Carly gave me a taste of the Le Batteur farmhouse ale. IT WAS SO GOOD!

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I made do with my turkey croissant sandwich. Before I left, I discovered the gallery of Bell’s- and beer-related license plates in the restroom hallway. Ha! Then I realized that I hadn’t thought to look for a Hopslam t-shirt and promptly forgot about it because I walked around and looked at the rest of the space.

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Up in the balcony, there was a variety of custom wrought iron work, including the wonderful Oberon sun. Out the back door, there was a garden for hanging out and enjoying a lovely Midwestern summer’s evening.

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Then I realized that there were several installations of hop vines. HOP VINES! Squeeeeee! Hops! Alas, none of them had developed flowers yet, but oh well. Now I know what I’d be in for as I consider planting some decoratively at home.

It was a ninety-minute stop during a 650-mile drive that ultimately took me sixteen hours to complete (I make a lot of pit stops). But hey, that was better than the seventeen that it took me to get to Ann Arbor. I knew I’d have regrets if I hadn’t spent the time that I did.

The next beer pilgrimage will be to Odell in Fort Collns, Colorado, next summer.

Giventomelupulin_tweak

Over the course of various posts, you have learned how much how much I love Bell’s Oberon beer. I’ve extolled its virtues and touted it as a favorite sign of spring. Well, as of a year ago, Oberon has had to share the spotlight. It’s like Cate Blanchett’s character in the movie “Bandits” said—”What if I don’t want to choose? What if, together, you make the perfect man?” Well, Oberon and, now, Odell Brewing’s St. Lupulin extra pale ale make it impossible for me to choose my favorite spring seasonal and both have me anxiously awaiting spring.

I was first introduced to St. Lupulin a year ago during an enjoyable outing to a Minnesota Twins game with a good friend. We stopped at another of my favorites, Pizza Lucé (downtown), for solid and liquid refreshments before the game. Pizza Lucé has a decent beer list and they have a couple of spots that they rotate with seasonals and limited/special editions. I chose the Odell St. Lupulin because theretofore I had never had an EPA other than Summit’s completely delicious one.

Well, one sip in and I was in love.

I learned that Odell was new in town a year ago, and as new varieties appeared in various places, I made sure I tried every one of them. And as with the other five of my favorite breweries*, I have yet to meet one I didn’t like even if, generally, I don’t like that variety. I love all Odell beers, it seems.

As such, I’ve made it a point to follow their happenings around town. And in doing so, I’ve been getting to know the people associated with bringing this fine product to me, including Doug Odell himself.

Okay, so it was more a brush with fame with Mr. Odell than “getting to know.” In the last couple of years, I have made it my mission to get a photo of myself with the owners of each of my favorite breweries. Thus far, I have four and a half out of six. I am missing Sierra Nevada, and for Surly, I have Mr. Ansari, Omar’s dad. Guilt by association.

A week or two prior to my meeting Mr. Odell, I had attended the release party for another of their seasonals, Red Ale. Coincidentally and very happily, that event was held at the very same Pizza Lucé. 

That was the same evening that I got to meet a local online friend, Holly, in person for the first time. Holly is an online acquaintance of my friend Rob’s friend Sara. Rob is my best friend from here who moved to California. Sara is one of his best friends there. Keeping up?

Holly took off and I stayed for one more. As the Odell people were winding things up, I introduced myself to two fellows, Hanszee from Odell’s distributor Capitol Beverage, and Todd the local Odell rep. It was the end of the evening and maybe they were looking to get rid of the rest of their stuff, or maybe they just appreciated my enthusiasm for their product. Hanszee gave me an Odell bottle opener key ring and a Red Ale t-shirt.

That was the start of my beer t-shirt collection.

Giventome_kellnodell_blog

A couple of weeks later I was excited because Doug Odell was coming to town and his meet-and-greet was being held at another of my favorite establishments, Brit’s Pub. I dorkily showed up in my Red Ale t-shirt, and it was about an hour before anybody came over to talk to me. Happily, it was Hanszee, and I explained to him my desire to get a photo with Mr. Odell, but that I was having a shy attack. Hanzee took charge and marched me over to Mr. Odell and my mission was accomplished.

There was no contact between me and the Odells for months after that. But then, spring drew nearer and I had a concrete date for the release of St. Lupulin. In quite the anticlimax, it turned out to be a week later than I had been led to believe but when it happened, the release party was thankfully at an establishment downtown and I was able to attend, barely. My parents were arriving for a visit at about the same time. I ignored that fact to go get a taste of springtime nectar.

Hanszee and Todd were there, as well as some other Odell associate who physically resembles Todd, and oddly, Nate the local Stone Brewing guy. Huh?

I was recognized and greeted, and though I would have loved to stay for two or three, I had to get going. On my way out, Hanszee offered me my snazzy St. Lupulin t-shirt. I was very excited!

A few days later one of my local stores, Zipp’s Liquors, had an Odell tasting. Turns out, Todd was there to pour. Then the following week, after a Zipp’s-sponsored major beer tasting, I got to hang out with Todd for a while, as well as a few other beer suspects including Hanszee and Tyler from Zipp’s, during a Double-Double mini-event. Double #1: Myrcenary double IPA. Double #2: Double Pils. A month earlier I had tried Myrcenary for the first time. Instant favorite!

St_lup-1Myrcenary-bottle

One of the things about Odell Brewing is that the label artwork and hand-lettering is just beautiful. Such are the Myrcenary label and the St. Lupulin. I happened to notice that Todd had given a Myrcenary t-shirt to another patron. It didn’t take long before I was in possession of one myself. Heh.

So suddenly, I have five beer t-shirts, three of which are Odell**. Wokka! It’s a little bit silly how thrilled I am to have them, unless you consider how much I love what they promote!

Giventomemyrcenary_blog

*Bell’s, Lagunitas, Sierra Nevada, Summit, Surly (alphabetical order, because I couldn’t be expected to actually rate them)

**The other two are Surly, which I bought after a brewery tour, and Great Lakes Brewing, which was given to me at the above-mentioned Zipp’s tasting. I like the Great Lakes Commodore Perry IPA.

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Odell brews I have brought home.

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Odell brews I have tasted.

Bottle images from the Odell Brewing website.

Zucchiniporn_blog

A while ago—maybe last summer or the summer before, or maybe the winter in between—my friend Jim who is fluent in sarcasm and snark, made a thusly-flavored comment disparaging the “dildo-sized” zucchinis that appear here in Minnesota grocery stores. 

My esteemed work colleagues know that I am very impressionable. All it takes is a word or sometimes a mere syllable to pop a song into my head, which I then start whistling. Half the time I don’t even realize I’m doing it. And if I hear someone else in the office eating potato chips, well, you can bet that I’m suddenly craving some, too.

Way back in the recesses of my mind, I remember vague rumors from high school which involved a couple of female classmates and carrots and wieners. 

So the zucchini-as-dildo comment stuck with me. I find it impossible to fondle them while making my selection without feeling a little bit dirty and a little bit self-conscious. I’m convinced that at least one person is watching me and questioning my motive as I pick them up one by one, choosing those that are similar in size and giving them a gentle squeeze to test for firmness, deciding yea or nay.

Of course, my end use of them is as pure as a petunia. I most often cut them in half the long way and broil them (or grill them, if it’s summer). Sometimes, I’ll make them the way my mom did when I was small, slicing them thinly and frying them in butter with pepper and finely chopped onion.

Today, they were part of the dinner pictured below, a celebration of this spring’s recent release of Bell’s Oberon Ale. It isn’t any better than when it’s paired with steak, especially if that steak is topped with sautéed mushrooms. Add the zucchini, some asparagus (this time with Hollandaise sauce, which I never do but it sounded good today), and a salad, and you’ve got one of my favorite meals.

It’s delicious enough to make me forget about the shame of shopping for the zucchini in the first place.

Favemeal_tweak

April 3, 2011

Signs of spring

December 11, 2010

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This evening, as snowfall begins that’s predicted to be the heaviest in ten years, I thought we’d review some signs of spring and both reminisce about and look forward to happier times.

As spring approaches, the sun creeps higher and higher in the sky and the mercury inches up in the thermometer. There is no surer indication that it is April and the temperature has climbed to 40°F/5°C in Minnesota than our pasty, white legs sprouting out of a pair of shorts. Our lower appendages turned ghostly pale during the preceding six months and now they’re on full display. But we don’t care. It’s above freezing and we’re Minnesotan.
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As soon as it hits 50 or 60F (10 or 15C), it’s time to start eating lunch outside. There’s a nice plaza a block away from my office that gets toasty sunshine on clear days. It’s very refreshing to get outside for a little while, especially when you don’t have to spend ten minutes bundling up to do it.

Signofspringlilac_blog

Whose mood isn’t brightened by the first daffodils to show their yellow sunniness, or the gentle fragrance from a lilac bush wafting in the breeze? Lilacs. Look at that snow. Can you believe it will be six months until we smell their sweet scent again?

Signofspringbaseball_blog

If you’re a baseball fan like I am, spring means the start of the regular season. This past year that was particularly meaningful as the Minnesota Twins inaugurated their new outdoor park, Target Field. It true that some of the first games were rather chilly, but it was so fantastic to be outside watching a game with 40,000 of my closest friends. And we know that in just a few months we’ll be sweltering in the dog days of summer.

Signofspringoberongrill_blog

We will finish our little mood-jogger this evening with beer. You figured I’d get around to something beer related, right? Perhaps my personal favorite sign of spring is when the Bell’s Oberon Ale is released. Even its sunny label says good times are ahead, and while we’re at it, let’s fire up the grill. Oberon pairs very nicely with a delicious, juicy steak and grilled veggies.

Ah, spring.

 

April 1, 2010