The Toast: April 2013

Banner for the Toast: Drinking Well in the Upper MidwestReaders: Win a Heavy Table pint glass by contributing to The Toast!

Got a cocktail recipe we should test out? Snap a good pic at a Beer Dabbler event? Know of a killer happy hour? Are you a bartender with a good anecdote? Email Toast Editor John Garland at john@heavytable.com and let us know what you’re toasting around town. Each month our favorite submission will receive a Heavy Table pint glass and may be featured in the next Toast!

Cheers to… Spring! In this installment, we mix springtime cocktails with Gamle Ode and Nick Kosevich at Eat Street Social, host a regional spirits tasting, and look forward to more Bad Weather. Be sure to let us know what you’re toasting! Email or tweet us anytime. Salut!

March Reader Submission: The guys over at Brewtoad alerted us to an eye-opening experiment for learning hop flavors by dry-hopping Bud Light (we will be doing this immediately).

Don’t Miss Our Regional Spirits Tasting: Saturday, April 6, 4-6pm at Elevated Beer Wine & Spirits

You may have become intrigued by our coverage of regionally produced spirits in the last few months. Or you may just be the kind of person that enjoys a good spirit tasting. Either way, join The Heavy Table this Saturday at Elevated BWS in South Minneapolis for a tasting of regional booze. It’ll be very casual, no tickets or RSVPs, just a bunch of good bottles to sample and some friendly conversation.

Ryan Brown from 45th Parallel Spirits in New Richmond, WI, will be on hand to answer questions as we taste their 45th Parallel Vodka, Border Bourbon, and New Richmond Rye. Our friends at Elevated also plan to open some Death’s Door Vodka and Gin, Minnesota’s own Panther Distillery Whitewater Whiskey, and Templeton Rye to round out a great selection for the afternoon.

Brenda Johnson / Heavy Table

Brenda Johnson / Heavy Table

Ode to Joy

We like Gamle Ode Aquavit not only because it’s local — though it’s sure great having Mike McCarron (above, bottom left) at our North Coast Noshes — but because it’s a truly unique spirit. Well, it’s not so unique anymore because he’s releasing the second (and third!) iterations of the spirit this year.

We met up at Eat Street Social last week to watch barman extraordinaire Nick Kosevich (above, top right) show us his mastery of these Scandinavian-inspired spirits. “To find Nick has been a godsend,” McCarron says. “It’s a new flavor. People wouldn’t necessarily be able to take their favorite Manhattan recipe and adapt it to aquavit. It needed someone with craftsmanship.”

He contracted Bittercube* to develop a range of recipes for his aquavits, some of which have found their way to Eat Street’s menu. “The Gamle Ode Aquavits are a mysterious flavor,” says Kosevich. “Using these products, we’re able to give people totally new drinks they’ve never experienced.”

Like, have you ever thought to make an Old Fashioned with a clear spirit? Kosevich reminds us that the original recipe simply called for spirit, sugar, water, and bitters. In fact, he uses the Old Fashioned formula as a way to understand a new spirit — to see how it takes to dilution and sweetening — as a litmus test before creating more complicated drinks.

Gamle Ode Old Fashioned (pictured, below)

2 oz Gamle Ode Dill Aquavit
.25 oz simple syrup
2 droppers Bittercube Bolivar bitters

Stir ingredients with ice and strain into a lowball with fresh ice. Employ a large swath of citrus for a garnish.

Brenda Johnson / Heavy Table

Brenda Johnson / Heavy Table

His new aquavit iteration is called “Holiday.” It’s inspired by the rarely-exported Danish yuletide aquavits and contains the same three botanicals as the original (dill, juniper, and caraway) but in a more balanced manner. Holiday also features some spearmint, allspice, and orange peel in its blend, and then receives six months’ age in Sherry barrels McCarron tracked down from Alexis Bailly Vineyard in Hastings. Whereas the original spirit is dominated by a piercing herbal flavor, the Holiday formulation is more rounded and nuanced. It also makes a spectacular substitute for gin in a Negroni:

Winter’s Sun

1.5 oz Gamle Ode Holiday Aquavit
1 oz Cocchi Vermouth di Torino
.5 oz Aperol
1 dropper Bittercube Orange bitters

Stir with ice until cold, strain, and serve neat with orange zest garnish.

Brenda Johnson / Heavy Table

Brenda Johnson / Heavy Table

The Holiday Aquavit should be making its way out to stores in the coming weeks. McCarron’s third release, a “Celebration” Aquavit, will feature a similar spice blend with coriander, anise, and a blend of citrus all in play. Half the product will be aged in wine barrels, the other half in bourbon barrels, and then mixed about 50 / 50 to make the final product.

“We’ll be using the Celebration outside in our tiki bar,” Kosevich hints with a smile. Open hopefully by June, Eat Street’s patio tiki bar will feature a completely separate menu for food and drink. “[Celebration] has more vibrant, citrus notes from the botanical structure. It’s going to be interesting to make classic tiki drinks using, essentially, a dill spirit. Yeah, we’re going to crush tiki.”

*corrected April 8, 2013 to better reflect the nature of their business agreement

Bad Weather Rising

One of the biggest hurdles for amateurs who get into commercial brewing is proper equipment use. Once they’ve scaled up their homebrew recipes (also not that easy), it takes time to understand how to best (and consistently) produce the brew in a large setup.

This is one problem the new Bad Weather Brewing will not have. Zac Carpenter spent last summer brewing at the Lucid brewery in Minnetonka to fulfill the apprenticeship requirement of his study with the American Brewers Guild. Bad Weather’s co-founder and Siebel Institute graduate Joe Giambruno also knew Lucid from having made early inquiries about a spot in their alternating-proprietorship arrangement.

Now, they’ve moved in. They’re the second company to start alt-prop brewing at Lucid (Badger Hill Brewing was the first), with Carpenter producing his own brews on equipment he’s intimately familiar with. In turn, the ever more crowded brewery is expanding production: two new fermenters and another bright tank look to increase total capacity by about 50 percent.

Bad Weather named their company in honor of the conditions under which they were usually allowed to homebrew. Now, they’ll further embrace seasonality by brewing only one year-round beer and focusing the rest of their output on more weather-appropriate suds.”We’re not too concerned with styles,” says Carpenter. “We want people to come in to this great Minnesota brewing culture and taste some things they can’t get anywhere else.”

Courtesy of Lucas Gluesenkamp / lucasgluesenkamp.com/

Courtesy of Lucas Gluesenkamp / lucasgluesenkamp.com

Their year-round flagship is called Windvane (label art, above), which debuted two weeks ago to an enthusiastic crowd at Republic Uptown. They deem it a “Minnesota Red Ale” and we’d call it favorably comparable to Steel Toe’s Rainmaker. It’s a full-flavored brew with a complex malt backbone to support a hefty amount of hops. “It’s a melding of everything I love about beer,” says Carpenter. “There’s roasted malt in there, some caramel malt, a combination of base malts — two-row and some Irish — and also some rye.”

They brewed only a small run of their winter seasonal, a dark and spicy monster named Ominous. Their spring beer, Migration, will enjoy a full release in the coming weeks. “Migration is one of my recipes, something you can guzzle down but that’ll have some flavor,” says Giambruno. “It started out as a Kolsch, and it has sort of retained the malt bill and hops, though the yeast is different. We settled on rose hips as a fun addition, which gives it a nice floral bouquet.”

Giambruno is also responsible for some rather meta branding. An ornithologist by study, he directed Migration’s label (below) to feature cedar waxwings that are known to eat rose hips.

Plan to see Bad Weather six-packs hit stores sometime during the summer (another nice benefit of the alt-prop setup, having a bottling line at the ready) and growlers soon at the brewery.

Courtesy of Lucas Gluesenkamp / lucasgluesenkamp.com

Courtesy of Lucas Gluesenkamp / lucasgluesenkamp.com

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About the Author

John Garland

John Garland is a freelance writer living in the East Isles neighborhood of Minneapolis. His area of expertise is wine - thanks to schooling from the International Sommelier Guild and more than a few winery visits during his time at the American University of Rome. He also contributes to Beer Dabbler's Growler Magazine and is always available for writing opportunities and happy hours.

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One Comment

  1. Ray Sturner 04/28/2013

    Interesting story. How can I reach barman extraordinaire, Nick Kosevich ? Please have him contact me. Thank you.