Games bartenders play

September 7, 2011


This is why it pays to develop a relationship with your bartender. (I don’t know if it actually warrants its own blog entry, but when has that ever stopped me?)

Remember Wiley the usually quiet bartender at Pizza Lucé? I had enjoyed my first St Lupulin this afternoon prior to going to the Twins game and was ready for another. Wiley set down the above half-full glass in front of me. (1)

“What’s this?”


“Guess 1”, no.

“Guess 2”, no.

About five wrong guesses total.

*smirk* “What did [other bartender] just go downstairs to do?”

“Change the 90 Shilling to Cutthroat Porter.”

“Yeah, and…?” 

“Uhh, erm…” 

“The St Lupulin just ran out and…?” 





So then Wiley sets down this full glass.

“So what’s this?”


*taste* *dawning comprehension*


“So he also just changed the St Lupulin.”




Tip your bartender well in appreciation of the games he or she will play with you!


(1) Wiley did not serve me the first one. He well could have checked my tab in the computer to learn what I had. Regardless, I was impressed with the game.
(2) I freaked out so because St Lupulin is seasonal, and it’s a short season, and that very likely COULD have been the last half glass for this year.


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.


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!


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!


*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.


Odell brews I have brought home.


Odell brews I have tasted.

Bottle images from the Odell Brewing website.

Not such a cheap date

August 21, 2010


Yesterday’s goal was to buy the cheapest thing on the menu. Today’s goal was to spend nothing. I failed miserably, because I didn’t have time to plan ahead. That’s a little bit of a lame excuse. I do often pack my lunch for work, but the extra whammy today was my attendance at the Twins game tonight.

So in chronological order, my FAIL went like this.

Lunch. Street food is just beginning to happen in Minneapolis. And it’s not really true street food yet. To be sure it comes from a truck or a cart, but at this time it’s pretty normal food and/or restaurants with a tiny satellite location on the sidewalk. Still, it is something new. Today I visited the Smack Shack at 1st Avenue North and 4th Street North. They do seafood and sausages. I got the shrimp po’ boy. It was delicious, but it was a pricey $9.00. And when a downpour happened while I was waiting for my order, I became stranded under their umbrellas and ended up eating there, where I was without my water that I would have been quite happy with at my desk as originally planned. I spent another dollar on a can of Diet Coke.

Supper. I had planned to stay at the office until it was time to go to the Twins game, but because I switched bags and forgot my key, I had to leave when the last other person left. That spurred my decision to check out the Town Ball Tavern within Target Field because I had plenty of time. As you would expect, the food was overpriced, but the Summit pints that I am powerless to resist at the ballpark were, at $6.75 each, 75¢ less expensive in the Tavern than on the concourse. I ordered the Twin Towns Turkey Sandwich (I think that’s what it was called), which was basically a grilled cheese and turkey sandwich, for $10.50—exorbitant, I know. I had three bargain beers as well.

At the end of the sixth inning, I could no longer take sitting in my seat, packed in on a warm and humid night with no breeze to circulate the stagnant air, so I retreated back to the Tavern where there was air conditioning and big screens and had one more bargain beer. Total beer savings, $3.00.


Post game. By game’s end, I was hungry again (stupid beer) and so popped in to Pizza Lucé on the way back to my bicycle for a delicious slice of pizza with chicken, mushrooms, and onions, $3.95. Wonderful as their beer selection is, I did resist the temptation and just had some nice, cold water.

So that was fourteen hours, two meals, and one event out of the house. Grand total: $51.45. Ouch. It’s no wonder I’m always out of money.


All day long, I was trying to think of someplace to explore where I hadn???t been before, which would make me feel uncomfortable being there, and which was conveniently located due to my feeling that I never have enough time. I realized that if it were conveniently located, it would be unlikely to make me feel uncomfortable because convenience would mean it was somewhere between home and work.

If I had had more ambition, I thought it would be interesting to go to a Mexican restaurant in a Latino neighborhood. I had two years of Spanish in junior high and can get the gist of a conversation and pronounce menu items correctly. When I go to Chicago, I always listen to the Spanish language radio stations in the car. Going to a Mexican restaurant would be uncomfortable but would have a delicious payout. Today was a lazy day.

By the time I left work, I had instead convinced myself that Pizza Luc?? would be the perfect supper, no discomfort necessary. In addition to whole pies, they sell by the slice and each day feature different meat and veggie selections. The only question was whether to go to the one a couple of block from my office or the one a few blocks from my home. I chose home.

The Seward Neighborhood Pizza Luc?? is about a half mile further. To get to it, I have to cross I-94 and then travel a few blocks on a busy street. I rode on the sidewalk going and resolved to take the side street between the freeway and the busy street on the way back.

I picked up my slices and headed to the side street. Trouble was, it was one-way in the opposite direction that I needed to go. Maybe it makes me sappy, but as a bicyclist I do follow the rules of the road 98% of the time. I don???t blow through red lights and I come to a complete stop at stop signs even when no one???s there. I prefer not to ride on the sidewalk (though I will), and riding the wrong way just isn???t right.

So I paused at the corner, debating which was the lesser of the two evils, sidewalk or wrong way. I just happened to look the other way and spied the solution to my dilemma???a pedestrian bridge over the interstate. And it fulfilled another need, to explore someplace new.

I???d never even realized it was there. It???s just to the east of 22nd Avenue and crosses to Augsburg College. There was nothing uncomfortable about it, though as I stood still to take the pictures, it was disconcerting to feel the vibrations caused by the traffic hurtling past underneath. I???d never been in the part of Augsburg where it came out. I found myself at a little town square type park and another one-way street going in the opposite direction. This time I only had to go one block against the grain so I said screw it, yet it that short distance I had to dodge two cars and one pedestrian.

I got home and enjoyed some tasty pizza.