It wasn’t but moments after unpacking my camera for a bit of self-indulgent beertography that I was interrupted by a friendly–but new–face.
That face belonged to Frank. He wanted to tell me that I was “pulling a Frank” (AKA making sure to photograph a new beer before drinking it). Thus began my happy hour with Frank and his craft beer buddy, Dale.
In the couple hours I spent at Steel Toe, most of it was talking beer experiences with these two fellas. If you can name a Minnesota brewery, chances are these guys have been there. Maybe I’ll just hand my domain over to them and let them run with it.
Beyond their ability to list just about every craft brewery in Minnesota (is there a Guinness World Record for that?), these guys seemed to know just about everybody at Steel Toe that there is to know. They had stories to tell about them, too; whether it was the beertender pouring a pint because she saw Frank’s car pull in, or knowing the brewer, who replaced kegs in every bar they distribute to when a batch was off-flavor. These guys had been around the Steel Toe block a time or two, to say the least.
Knowing the staff and the brewers, and even the other regulars, seemed to mean a lot to Frank and Dale. In fact, that seemed to be what they loved so much about the craft beer world. The easy relationships, the kind people, and the great atmosphere. Heck, the two of them met as strangers in a brewery. Now, they get together with a regular group of beer-lovin’ fellas at breweries all over the state.
It was pretty clear that these craft beer lovers had no trouble chatting with strangers over a good brew or two. But, Frank pointed out, he has never liked public speaking from a script. “I’d much rather just talk to people face-to-face,” he explained. “With me, what you see is what you get.”
I think that insight into Frank can provide an equally accurate insight into the craft beer world. This little slice of reality is populated by old friends, new handshakes, and a lot of honesty. No bullshit. Just good beer.
(Pardon the unfocused beer photo…I was distracted by great conversation).
After my exceptional experience with a Red at the Herkimer, I opted for Steel Toe’s Rainmaker, an India Red Ale (ABV: 6.5%, IBU: 65). Once again, I was not disappointed by the Red! It was easy to drink while maintaining a full body, making it an ideal happy hour choice.
While Steel Toe doesn’t sell food in their taproom, they oftentimes bring in food trucks on Friday and Saturday nights, and I am on the food truck bandwagon. Maybe because it’s like a mini-State Fair on a casual Friday night. What can I say, beer and greasy food are a match made in heaven.
The brewery itself is a pretty straight-forward space. Minimalist industrial decor in two square rooms. All the steel-toed-boot-wearing crowd could ask for.