Each Friday afternoon, this list will track five of the best things Heavy Table’s writers, editors, and photographers have recently bitten or sipped. Have a suggestion for the Hot Five? Email email@example.com.
Arctic Char roll at Kyatchi
Mandarina Kellerpils (Lager) at Fair State Brewing Cooperative
Panettone at Patisserie 46
The Mother Board at Gyst Fermentation Bar
Cacao Bender by Surly Brewing Company
About the Farms in the Lens series: Much of what we write within these pages is focused on the restaurants of Minneapolis and St. Paul. But much of what we eat at those tables comes from farms around the state. With underwriting from Clancey’s Meats and Fish, we’ve set out to document a half dozen of these farms, focusing on the relationship between humans and animals.
Redhead Creamery is run by Alise Sjostrom and her husband Lucas alongside her parents’ dairy farm, Jer-Lindy Farms. It was founded this year with assistance from a successful Kickstarter campaign that raised $41,495 — more than $6,000 beyond its initial goal.
The founders of Jer-Lindy Farms are Jerry and Linda Jennissen. They grew up on dairy farms and met at a calf show when they were children.
Many years later, they married. They started their own farm (in Brooten, Minn.) in 1983.
“It is amazing to be on a farm that my parents basically built from scratch,” says Alise.
Today marks the opening of the Surly Beer Hall at 520 Malcolm Avenue SE, Minneapolis. The “destination brewery” (think “brewery + taproom + restaurant + event space”) is sparkling in anticipation of the crowds … except perhaps for the stainless steel bar tops, which are already scratched, and the eager yet bleary-eyed staff, who are continuously tidying and mopping up after the barrage of media visitors. The German beer-garden-style long wooden tables are ready to be sat at, and the smoker’s outpost is ready to be utilized. Don’t forget to wear your black.
Food and beer will be served in the massive beer hall. An upstairs area, where the restaurant will eventually be, will for now serve as overflow space in which to mill about, beer in hand. The menu itself (see below), while quite robust for a beer hall, is still a bit of a wild card. Some of the items have already been modified or replaced in the lead-up to the opening. The complexity of dishes like scallops with cippolini, guanciale ragu, farro, and sumac cracklins might result in a stuttering start.
The Upper Midwestern distilling scene is surging with a joyous volatility. Local spirits are following in the footsteps of craft beer — every month seems to bring a new opening, a new release, and a new announcement of a distillery to come.
We wanted to try to get our heads (and palates) around some of what was going on, and so we reached out to a group of local craft distillers with a simple question: Would you support our efforts to gather together a great deal of local alcohol, drink it, and then mix it, and then drink it some more? They said yes and underwrote this story.
11 Wells, Du Nord Spirits, Far North Spirits, and Vikre each supplied a couple bottles of spirits in addition to their financial support. We also went out and bought a number of bottles from other distilleries to supplement our bar. We don’t claim that this tasting represents everything going on in the scene — it doesn’t — but it’s a nice wide swath. Future cocktail laboratories will weave in flavors from other local spirits, so please stay tuned.
Our tasting and cocktail creation team was headed by bartender Adam Gorski of La Belle Vie (below, center); Heavy Table / Growler writer John Garland (bottom right) brought additional firepower to the table. Writers James Norton (bottom left) and Maja Ingeman (top right) tossed in their two cents and drinks ideas, as did photographer Becca Dilley (top left). Photographer Katie Cannon documented the process.
Our team tasted all twelve spirits in the bar straight and assembled tasting notes. After that, all hell broke loose. We mixed with fruit, with bitters, with juice, with other spirits, with soda, and with whatever else we could get our hands on. A lot of what we mixed got poured directly into a bucket, but some of it was salvageable, so salvage we did.
We’re pleased to present you with two fruits of our besotted evening together. The first is a collection of tasting notes from the dozen local spirits we sampled. The second is a collection of seven original cocktail recipes by Adam Gorski (who created four of them), John Garland (two), and James Norton (one).
The logistics of our event — five people, twelve spirits, unlimited sipping, sampling, and mixing — were such that we wanted to make sure everyone got to and from our cocktail lab safely and responsibly. We reached out to Uber, and they arranged rides for our team members. We’re grateful for that. It made the whole night as smooth as a craft vodka.
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And without further ado, a massive taste of local spirits.
11 Wells Spirits | Maelstrom Agricole Rum
The classic sugar-cane juice base of this Caribbean-by-way-of-Minnesota spirit gives it a cheerful vanilla-caramel character, without the grassy and / or vegetal notes that sometimes creep into this style of rum. Maelstrom Agricole would perform admirably in just about any classic Tiki drink. One of our tasters praised it for “an almost wasabi-like nasal burn (in a good way).”
11 Wells Spirits | Rye
The arcane and dizzyingly detailed numbers on the side of each bottle of 11 Wells prototype rye refer to everything from the char level to the cooperage to the yeast type to the mash bill of the spirit. The depth of knowledge conveyed is impressive; it also looks wicked cool. We dug this “mellow,” “tannic,” “soapy,” “gentle,” spirit, which also boasted a bit of low-key apple character. A longer aging period might pump up the intensity a bit.
Congratulations to Melissa Clark of the New York Times for personally discovering that you can make a simpler variant of Italian porchetta using a pork shoulder. It is exciting to hear that this dish is now enjoyed exclusively in a small section of Brownstone Brooklyn. She may be pleased and mortified in equal proportions to hear that time-traveling Italian immigrants from Minnesota’s Iron Range have stolen her recipe and turned it into a widely-known staple of North Country cuisine since the early part of the 20th Century.