Twin Cities Beer Ice Creams

Mike Mommsen / Heavy Table

Mike Mommsen / Heavy Table

Beer-flavored ice creams are on the rise, fueled by a booming craft beer movement and its also-thriving dairy parallel, locally made gourmet ice creams. We took to the freezer aisle and tried three different beer ice creams (all non-alcoholic, in contrast to some specifically 21+ ice creams made in other states). Our three flavors were made by two local brands working with three microbreweries. Each pint costs approximately $7 and can be found at various co-ops and Kowalski’s.

Izzy’s Summit Oatmeal Stout

The Summit Oatmeal Stout ice cream flavor tastes exactly like the head on the namesake draught. It’s creamy, smooth, and not as sweet as your average ice cream. In fact, the umami almost takes over and leaves a meaty flavor in the mouth, not unlike the experience you have while drinking a Guinness dry stout. The ice cream is made with a beer reduction, thus eliminating the alcohol and leaving behind a sweet extract that serves as the backbone of the flavor. It is ideal in smaller portions, as a savory accent to a scoop of conventionally sweet ice cream.

Mike Mommsen / Heavy Table

Mike Mommsen / Heavy Table

We thought this ice cream would pair well with Lefthand’s Milk Stout in the form of a beer float, and we were not wrong. The sweet maltiness of the beer plays off the almost breadlike mouthfeel to accent the caramel and coffee notes of both. As the ice cream melts and mixes with the beer, the two liquids become one, to make an excellent beer shake with balanced malt and bitterness.

Mike Mommsen / Heavy Table

Mike Mommsen / Heavy Table

Sweet Science Stout Oat Crunch

Stout Oat Crunch is made with a reduction of Fulton’s Worthy Adversary. Profoundly beer-flavored, this is the sweetest and most complex of the three ice creams we tried. It has the strong bitter finish and deep malted chocolate notes of the Russian Imperial Stout. The “crunch” part of the ice cream is rolled oats, which add a delightful textural element to the ice cream experience. This is a beer-lover’s ice cream, and would make an excellent final course to a beer dinner.

Sarah McGee / Heavy Table

Sarah McGee / Heavy Table

Sweet Science Honey Chamomile Ale

The newest flavor Sweet Science has to offer evokes the beer’s flavor in a sweeter, nuttier way. It uses Tin Whiskers Wheatstone Bridge Ale in a reduction, to make a caramel swirl. The beer’s complex pineapple notes (from the chamomile tea) are somewhat lost, but the reduction adds an elegant simplicity to the overall texture.

It feels as if this ice cream, more than the others we tried, was intended to allude to the overall experience of beer in ice-cream form, creating its own unique flavor rather than paying homage to the beer by fully replicating it. It is less bitter, less malty, and more kid-friendly than the other two.

Also Worth Noting: Sebastian Joe’s in Uptown and Linden Hills occasionally makes a Surly-based ice cream with a caramel swirl.



Breakfast at Savage’s Windmill Cafe

Brenda Johnson / Heavy Table

Brenda Johnson / Heavy Table

Sometimes you want something unique, something cutting-edge, the newest form of gastronomy that’s just about to become big in the food world.

Other times, you just want a really good greasy-spoon breakfast.

If you’re in the latter mood, it might be time for you to take a drive out on Highway 13 to Savage and pop into a rather sad-sack-looking building that’s been there forever: the Windmill Cafe. It’s not much to look at on the outside — just a boxy mass made out of cinderblock with an old metal garden windmill for decoration. But before you write it off, take a look at the number of cars in the parking lot — including the number of local police and state trooper vehicles, as well as semitrailers — and think again.

Brenda Johnson / Heavy Table

Brenda Johnson / Heavy Table

The Windmill is open daily for breakfast and lunch (with the former served all day). Inside, the decor is old-time cafe: cinder block walls, leatherette booths, and a counter with low stools facing a pass-through to the kitchen. In between breakfast and lunch rushes, you might get to see the cook (no chef’s jacket or toque for this guy — a T-shirt and apron will do) come out with his self-prepared breakfast and plop down on a stool at the end of the counter, getting his break while he can.

Brenda Johnson / Heavy Table

Brenda Johnson / Heavy Table

Because before long, he’s going to be back at the griddle, frying frantically. This is not the place to go if you’re worried about the condition of your arteries, but if you can overlook that for one meal, here’s some advice: Chicken-fried steak ($8.50, above). You’ll find it listed on the “Southern Breakfast” part of the menu (along with Biscuits & Sausage Gravy, $6, below), which is appropriate, given the dish’s provenance in the southern part of the United States. But it was part of this writer’s Northern Minnesota upbringing, too, and finding it on the menu here was a treat. It’s not something you see on many menus around the metro.



Heavy Table Hot Five: April 17-23

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Each Friday, 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 editor@heavytable.com.

Daniel Murphy / Heavy Table

Daniel Murphy / Heavy Table

1-new - oneHog Frites at Surly Brewing
These fries are like poutine on crack: giardiniera, magically light cheese sauce, and perfectly pulled pork. There were audible gasps from the dude bros on either side of us at the bar.

[Debuting on the Hot Five | Submitted by Kate NG Sommers]

Brenda Johnson / Heavy Table

Brenda Johnson / Heavy Table

2-new - twoNoodles at Macy’s Skyroom
Macy’s Skyroom noodles are good in a fast-food ramen sort of way: The chewy noodles are a great contrast to the fresh veggies and thinly sliced meat. The broth was remarkably good … not too salty, yet with a lot of flavor.
[Debuting on the Hot Five | Submitted by Brenda Johnson]

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

3-new - threeHot Fried Chicken at Revival
Texture: boldly crispy skin over tender, flavorful meat. Flavor: about as much heat as you can handle — right on the border of too much, without crossing over. The seasoning spices of the chicken’s breading are still discernible beneath the gentle but assertive waves of heat. This stuff is dangerous. The newly opened Revival (read our roundtable review) is going to change the way fried chicken is eaten around here.

[Last Week on the Hot Five: #4 | Submitted by James Norton]

Trica Cornell / Heavy Table

Trica Cornell / Heavy Table

4-new fourLoukaniko from Clancey’s Meats and Fish
Clancey’s usually makes this classic Greek sausage in links, but they made the last batch in patties wrapped in a layer of lacy caul fat. The caul fat kept the meat moist as it cooked, bringing out the floral, citrusy notes. We ate them with a fork and knife (and a side of asparagus), but I could totally imagining turning the loukaniko burger with tzatziki into a summer thing.

[Last Week on the Hot Five: #3 | Submitted by Tricia Cornell]

James Norton /  Heavy Table

James Norton / Heavy Table

5-new -fiveChicken Fajitas at El Nuevo Rodeo
Chicken fajitas have acquired a bad name, having been dragged through the dirt of just about every mainstream sit-down restaurant concept in recent history, from Perkins to TGI Friday’s. But there’s no reason that they can’t be executed elegantly and deliciously, with plenty of sizzle and char, as they are at El Nuevo Rodeo.

[Debuting on the Hot Five | Submitted by James Norton]



Cafe Racer Kitchen in Seward, Minneapolis

James Norton / Heavy Table

James Norton / Heavy Table

It’s generally known that New York City has a killer dining scene, but the reason for that reputation is often misunderstood. It’s fine to have Le Bernardin and its ilk weaving gossamer tapestries of haute cuisine for the one percent, but the real beauty of the city is all the small places that focus on tiny corners of the food world. The confidence to do a few things well — or one thing well, for that matter — inspires love, and it generally means that diners get impeccable value and a consistent experience.

A willingness to serve fewer things — and do a much better job of it — has been blossoming in the Twin Cities, and we’re all eating better for it. Focused restaurants like Revival, Sassy Spoon, Brasa, World Street Kitchen, and Hello Pizza are pointing their firepower at where we have the most room to move forward as a food culture, and it’s a glorious thing.

Add to the list Cafe Racer Kitchen, now open the in former Donut Cooperative / Cliquot Cafe space in the Seward neighborhood of Minneapolis. This food-truck turned bricks-and-mortar operation is slinging a remarkably short and simple menu. As a diner, you choose from pulled chicken breast, pulled pork, or roasted vegetables, and then choose a serving style (salad, arepa, or naked) and sides. Or you choose from among a braised chicken, a marinated skirt steak, or a Colombian street hot dog. That’s it. When you see a menu this short and unpretentious, you know that someone’s confident that flavor and execution will bring diners back, and Cafe Racer’s got flavor and execution in spades.

James Norton / Heavy Table

James Norton / Heavy Table

This confidence is echoed in the spot’s interior. There’s no Latin American kitsch here, just a clean, chic style that you might see at a modern neighborhood spot just about anywhere from Buenos Aires to St. Paul. Cafe Racer Kitchen lets its modern Latin soundtrack and food do the talking. On that front, the overall message sent by the food is “clean.” There was no grease, little fat, and gentle-but-competent seasoning in all the dishes and sides we tasted.

James Norton / Heavy Table

James Norton / Heavy Table

Our braised pulled pork ($9) came garnished with crisp bits of sweet potato, sriracha and cilantro aiolis, and pickled red onions. We’ve had spins on this dish all over the place, plenty of which were louder, or fattier, or spicier. This one tasted mild, mellow, harmonious, and ultimately pleasing, even more so for the crisp arepa that it was served upon.

On the side, our carrot souffle burst with natural sweetness and a mild splash of melted queso blanco and queso fresco. On a second visit, the souffle was less appealing — dry and one dimensional. But when it works, it works.



The Toast: Spring Beer Taste-off 2015

Banner for the Toast: Drinking Well in the Upper Midwest

What is a spring beer, anyway? Spring is a strange time of year for beer. We’re done with the barrel-aged monsters of winter but not quite ready for the paper-thin ales of summer. Spring means a hodgepodge of styles: Maibocks, hoppy IPAs, Belgian-inspired wheats, fresh Pilsners, floral session beers, and everything in between.

Every quarter, our good friends at the Minnesota Craft Brewers Guild ask their members for samples of their most recent brews. This time around, they gathered 28 current releases from 21 Minnesota breweries.

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We needed an all-star panel of tasters to sort it all out: Andrew Schmitt, co-host of MN Beer Cast and the director of MN Beer Activists; Jeremy Zoss of Zoss Media; Sean Cooke, certified Cicerone and bartender at Tamarack Taproom; and Tom Boland, vice president at Elevated Beer Wine and Spirits.

Reminder: tickets for the insanely popular All Pints North are on sale now. Reserve them now to join the festivities in Duluth’s Bayfront Park on Saturday, July 25.

Here now, our picks for the best in Minnesota spring beer:

Brenda Johnson / Heavy Table

Brenda Johnson / Heavy Table

Gold Medal, Best In Show: Town Hall Brewery One Simple Pale

If ever there was a name that fit a beer, our grand champion is just that. Brewer Mike Hoops and company win our tasting with a paragon of a pale ale. Aromas of tropical melon and fresh pine, followed with rich, balanced malt and a clean finish. Aroma-forward, very little bitterness lingering. So drinkable. So simple. A impressive background player — like the world’s best bass guitarist, only this one deserves the spotlight.

Brenda Johnson / Heavy Table

Brenda Johnson / Heavy Table

Gold Medal, 1st Runner-Up: Freehouse German Bock No. 9

We at Toast HQ love seeing improvement and having our expectations confounded. We’ve been sour on beers from the Freehouse so far, but it looks like the revolution begins with Number 9. It’s Oktoberfest flavor in skinnier Lederhosen. It’s Aprilfest. Not sugary like a Märzen, with layered malt, herbal hops, and raisin, caramel, and coffee notes at the end. It’s nice to have these robust autumn flavors in a mellow spring beer. Astonishing.

Gold Medal, 2nd Runner-Up: Badger Hill High Road Everyday Ale

We hereby crown High Road the king of local session ales. Passion fruit, honeydew, pineapple — a whole tropical fruit basket on the nose from the Southern Hemisphere hops. Absurd amount of flavor for such a light body. Bright and direct, while balanced, at a thin 5 percent ABV.