I began my brewery tour extravaganza (five breweries in 24 hours) at Bent Paddle Brewing. On an abnormally warm February afternoon, the taproom was packed with beer drinkers clad in flannel and those small hats with little brims that cyclists wear.
Knowing I’d regret not trying as many beers as possible, I opted for a flight (and then some). Not a single brew disappointed. My flight consisted of: Venture Pils (Pilsener Lager, ABV 5%, IBU 30), Bent Hop (Golden IPA, ABV 6.2%, IBU 68), 14° ESB (Extra Special Amber Ale, ABV 5.6%, IBU 32), Black Ale (ABV 6%, IBU 34), and a Strawberry Rhubarb Infusion.
Of the flight, I was drawn to the Bent Hop, which came as no surprise–I can’t seem to tear myself away from IPAs. My favorite beer, though, was the Cold Press Black Ale (ABV 6%, IBU 30), made with coffee from Duluth Coffee Company. It was seriously smooth, flavorful, and balanced. Plus, it’s made with both coffee and beer; is there anything else you can ask for in life?
One of the beertenders managed to get away from the crowd of thirsty drinkers to offer me a bit of advice. All he had to do was conveniently point to the whiteboard overhead, where he had recently written a quote: “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step (or beer).”
Considering this trip officially put my car over 100k miles, I’d say I can take this advice quite literally. A single beer has brought me to over 80 taprooms across the state, and I’ve done quite a bit of journeying on the way, too. This journey continues to provide me with long conversations, old friends and new ones, strangers’ life stories, and a hell of a lot of good beer.