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)

 

 

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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!

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*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.

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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.

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April 3, 2011

The keys to my happiness

March 31, 2011

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This is going to be one of those really interesting entries because, although this looks like a boring picture of my keys by my front door, upon closer inspection you will realize that yet again we combine two of my great loves—rabbits and beer. That’s exciting, right?

I’ve had both of the key holders forever, though I installed the upper one only this past weekend after having lived in my current home for five and a half years. I bought the bottom one as naked wood at some place like Jo Ann Fabrics or Michaels and painted it with stain I had left from the rickety dorm room loft I built out of 2 x 4s and nuts and bolts but no fancy joints. Thinking back on it, it’s a wonder I’m alive to tell the tale. The color was the closest to black I could get. It was the 80s, after all.

The top key holder probably came from Lyndale Garden Center (no longer in business), and in your own shopping adventures you’ve probably more likely come across the cat version, where the hooks are the cats’ tails. Of course for the rabbits, they’re just hooks and I had had it up for decoration in my old place. In my current place, an 18-unit condominium, I have built up an impressive collection of my neighbors’ keys—from cat-sitting to main water shut-off access to I don’t know why. A few weeks ago I was rummaging around for something else and came across the holder and realized that it would be the perfect device for storing the other keys in a more accessible way, rather than jumble in the box in which they currently reside. Me being me, I’ve only managed to walk two sets of other keys the ten feet over to it thus far.

As for my own keys, I have two sets. The “big” set that includes my car key and some extra loops, and my “little” set that doesn’t, which I take when I don’t, you know, have to drive. And this is where the beer comes in and your perseverance is rewarded. The little set lives on my Bell’s Oberon tag. Oberon is, you may recall, one of my top favorite beers, and was, in fact, just released Monday for the 2011 season. Spring is not far away when the Oberon flows.

My big keys had a personality change recently. For quite some time they had sported a green whistle sponsored by Corona. If you have learned anything about me, it’s that I don’t drink thin, light, yellow beer. But the Corona whistle was also a bottle opener, so I tolerated its presence. A couple of months ago, there was an upgrade. I attended the Odell Red Ale release party at Pizza Lucé downtown and got swag, including a snazzy Odell bottle opener key ring. Buh-bye, Corona whistle.

I  also noticed, in laying out the new picture of my key rings, that I apparently put my car key back on the opposite side the last time my car was in for service.

See? I told you this would be interesting.

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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.

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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?

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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.

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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

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Today I had to identify my favorite summer snack. If by summer you mean those months here in Minnesota when it isn???t snowing and if by snack you mean something that is a treat, then my answer is Bell???s Oberon.

The Bell???s website describes Oberon as ???an American wheat ale brewed with Saaz hops. Spicy and fruity, Oberon is the color and scent of a sunny afternoon.???

It sure is!

I don???t pretend to know all the nuances of ingredients and varieties; historically I don???t like wheat beers, especially if they???re varieties referred to as hefeweizen or weissbier. The flavor tends to be sweeter than I prefer and I usually get a near-instant headache from them. But something magical happened when I tasted Oberon for the first time.

I was at a wine tasting event with a friend of mine who feels about wine like I do beer. He also works part-time at a liquor store and so often gets to go to these distributor-sponsored events, which I believe this was. There is also some sort of food to nosh on; in this case it was several local restaurants that had tables sprinkled throughout the floor.

I had been up and down a few rows and tasted many wines and found myself at the Murray???s Steakhouse table. The chef was serving up beef bites saut??ed in butter, garlic, and mushrooms. They tasted heavenly. The stage was set.

Banished to the overflow tent adjacent to the main hall were a few breweries, including local favorite Summit, as well as a couple of others including Bell???s Brewery from Michigan. My experience with Bell???s at that time about five or six years ago was hearing my coworker (and beer guru) rave about their Two-Hearted Ale. I had tried it and was unimpressed because at that time, my palette had not yet begun its rapid transition into liking hops.

Being at a tasting and being willing to try new things, I walked up to the Bell???s table, explained my slight experience with Two-Hearted, and wondered what else I could try. The first sample I was given was Oberon. It looked pretty light and yellow, but with some body. I was still savoring the flavor of the steak bites. I sipped the Oberon. I was in love!

I know it was largely because the beef had primed my taste buds and then the beer complimented the beef. I still think of it as serendipity and one of my favorite dining experiences. If I hadn???t had those steak bites I probably wouldn???t have been floored by the Oberon. But I had and I was. And the rest is history.

So every April, I look forward to the appearance of Oberon???s bright blue carton and sunny logo on the shelves of the coolers. When I see it, I know summer can???t be too far away.

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(As an aside, Minnesota is apparently Bell???s??? best market for their hoppy Two-Hearted Ale. I have since come to greatly appreciate that masterpiece as well.)