Goats_online

CMT Farm has been making handcrafted, natural goat’s milk soap on their 50 acres south of Superior for years. Now, they are trying their hand at something new: a Fitger’s Brewhouse beer soap.

Carolyn Jones and her family started out years ago with just three goats, now they have a few more.

“It’s so fun to see all the new babies, and sometimes the babies come in the house,” said Jones.

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Born last month, they have 21 new kids running and hopping around. In addition to their little ones, they also have 20 milking goats and five meat goats.

Each goat has a unique name, this year’s batch is named after the Hunger Games.

“We have Cato, then we have Cinna, and there is Rue and Peeta,” explained Jones.

Every morning, Jones milks the goats. She said the milk is rich in vitamins, proteins, and minerals, making it great for moisturizing skin.

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Upstairs in the barn, is the soap shop. Jones has two lines of goat’s milk soap, Gitchee Goat and Garden of Spice, which she has made for years, but you can also find her new ventures ready to be labeled.

“I have some Fitger’s Apricot Wheat, and I am testing with Cascade hops,” explained Jones.

She’s teaming up with Fitger’s Brewhouse and her beer soap and lip balm will roll out at the Beer Store this week.

“It’s just another step in the direction, where we are constantly striving to be more local, source more locally, it started with our beer, to our food, and now to our merchandising store,” said Brad Nelson with Fitger’s.

Fitger’s Apricot Wheat beer is one of four natural ingredients in the soap.

The soap and lip balm will be available starting Thursday night at the Fitger’s Brewhouse Beer Store. It is Ladies Night at Fitger’s and they will have all sorts of discounts, samples of beer, and even baby goats to see.

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Grain

Many craft breweries—which are said to add more than $740 million to Minnesota’s economy—have longstanding, handshake agreements with local farmers, and they’re closely watching newly proposed government regulations that could impact those partnerships.

After heating up grains during the mashing process to extract sugar, proteins, and other nutrients used in making beer, brewers are left with hundreds or even thousands of pounds of wet, “spent grains.” Most then donate those grains, or sell them for a modest fee, to local farmers to be used as feed for cattle and other livestock, a practice that has been lauded as sustainable and environmentally responsible.

In fact, Paul Gatza, director of the national Brewers Association, told Twin Cities Business that about 90 percent of U.S. brewers give their spent grain to farmers. The practice is very common among Minnesota’s craft breweries, from St. Paul-based Summit Brewing Company to Duluth-based Fitger’s Brewhouse—which actually feeds its spent grains to cattle on a nearby farm, and in turn sells the beef from those same cows at its own restaurants.

So when the U.S. Food and Drug Administration recentlyproposed a rule that aimed to establish new requirements for the “manufacturing, processing, packing, and holding of animal food,” it caught brewers’ attention.

The FDA said that the move is part of a larger push to modernize the food safety system and to focus on preventing safety issues, rather than responding to problems after they arise. But members of the brewing industry asserted that there is no recorded evidence of hazards with their spent grains, and they warned that new requirements could add onerous and unnecessary costs if they were required to buy new equipment or devote resources to meeting packaging requirements. Some lawmakers also voiced concerns.

Now, the FDA is clarifying its intentions—saying that the law is not meant to require spent grains be dried and pre-packaged—and plans to update its proposal.

FDA To Revise Its Plan

On Friday, the FDA said in an e-mailed statement to Twin Cities Business that, after soliciting comments on its proposed rule and hearing brewers’ concerns, it will propose “revised language” later this summer, at which point it will provide more details.

But national associations like the American Malting Barley Association and the Beer Institute informed members that they have now heard directly from FDA officials, and the proposed changes appear less dramatic than first anticipated.

“The primary concern of the FDA now appears to be how the spent grain is held at the brewery and transported to the farm,” the American Malting Barley Association told its members.

In other words, the agency appears to be seeking documentation to confirm the cleanliness of the silos that store the grains and the trucks that transport them—which would presumably have a much smaller impact on brewers than if they were, say, required to dry and package the spent grains.

Local Brewers React

Mark Stutrud, CEO of Summit Brewing, first reacted to the FDA’s proposal by saying that substantial changes to the spent-grain process could become “very serious” for his industry.

But following the latest clarifications from industry trade groups, Stutrud said he believes that the issue has been resolved—and he agreed with the FDA that small brewers should be required to keep their equipment clean and keep appropriate records.

That doesn’t mean brewers are completely at ease. Fitger’s Nelson, for example, said it remains difficult to gauge the impact of the FDA proposal until the rules are more defined. Even without packaging requirements, other changes could still translate to increased costs, he said.

For example, Fitger’s brewers shovel spent grains from their “mash tuns,” which steep the grains, into open plastic buckets, which are picked up by farmers and put directly onto a field. Nelson said it’s unclear at this point whether that process would pass muster, or if, say, a brewery might be required to purchase an auger that moves spent grains into a closed truck container.

“We’re definitely watching it,” Nelson said of the FDA’s upcoming revised language. “A big part of our food brand is wrapped up in what we call the ‘beer-beef cycle,’” he said, pointing out that the company has even set up a Facebook page touting Fitger’s “Drunken Cattle Brewhouse Beef” brand.

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Fitger's_Brewhouse

DULUTH – Fitger’s Brewhouse has signed another 20 year lease with Fitger’s on the Lake. The brewpub has been serving up craft beer, tasty eats and entertainment since 1995.

They hope to do even more in the next two decades.

“Now that we have this 20 year lease we have that in our back pocket we can go forth and do some real capital investments improvements on the brewery,” Fitger’s Brewhouse Minister of Propaganda Brad Nelson said. “Expand our brewing capacity right where we are.”

Fitger’s Brewhouse is the 10th largest craft brewery in Minnesota.

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Pictured below: Reps of The Brewhouse Family that keeps the brewery brewing. (4/2/14)

photo credit: Max McGruder (also part of the family)

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denver_rare_beer_tasting

For the last several years, the Denver Rare Beer Tasting has been one of the highlights of GABF week in Denver. The intimate event features 40-ish brewers from all over the country pouring rare and vintage beers for just a few hundred guests – fans and brewers alike. The one-of-a-kind event supports the Pints for Prostates organization, a beer-based charity to support prostate cancer research, founded by cancer survivor Rick Lyke. At $100 the ticket price is steep, but between the beer and the cause, the cost is worth it.

Now the Twin Cities can boast its own version of this auspicious event. The boys at Chop Liver LLC, the ones who bring you the St. Paul Summer Beer Fest among many others throughout the state, debuted the Northern Lights Rare Beer Fest last Saturday at the Minnesota History Center. It brought together 30 breweries for a celebration of brews exotic and hard to get.

The premise of the event was fairly simple. Each brewery was to bring at least one beer that is otherwise unavailable in the metro market; maybe a vintage example, maybe some tweak to a flagship. Some brewed small-batch beers just for the event. Every brewery was to have someone from the brewery in the booth to talk with attendees about the beers. Ticket sales were capped to keep it intimate and elegant. And like the original, this fest would support Pints for Prostates.

So how did it go?

First a note about the location. The Minnesota History Center is one of the best, if not the best, location for a beer festival in the metro. It’s elegant. It’s intimate. Multiple levels give it a sense of space. Gray and black polished granite elevate it way above the usual white tents and utility tables. It’s just lovely. I wish that the Minnesota Craft Brewers Guild’s Winterfest had not outgrown it. I hope that Chop Liver will continue to utilize it.

Now to the fest. Overall, I would call it a success, especially for a first attempt. The beers were generally very interesting. The food was tasty. The musical entertainment was unobtrusive, but well…entertaining. The mood was festive. And best of all, it wasn’t crowded!

… …

On reflection, my favorite of the fest was Eye Wine from Minneapolis Town Hall Brewery, a “well-aged,” wine-barrel version of their award-winning Eye of the Storm Honey Ale. Even with just a small sample pour this beer changed drastically from start to finish. The first sip was a honey-dripped barleywine; thick and sweet. Then came a wash of woody oak to cut through the nectar. Finally this same beer transformed itself into a light and sparkly, slightly acidic, glass of vinous goodness. This was only my third or fourth sample of the night. This metamorphosis wasn’t just some drunken illusion. It really happened. And it was verified by none other than beer historian Doug Hoverson.

Another favorite was the Wine Barrel Aged Breakwater White with Brettanomyces from the other Hoops brother up at Fitger’s Brewhouse. It was a Belgian witbier aged in a red wine barrel with brett. The resulting beer was tart and super refreshing, a welcome thing in a fest full of big-thick and super-hops. The dominant flavor was fresh-squeezed yellow grapefruit with a whole load of other citrus throw into the mix.

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duluthexp_roundtable

Craft beer enthusiasts got an insider’s peak on the booming local industry on Sunday as brewery owners from the Twin Ports shared how they started their businesses and what they expect for the future.

The event was put together by The Duluth Experience, a brewery tour company. The company’s founders hoped the discussion would offer a unique insight on the popular industry.

“That’s the idea is educate, have a good time, and let the people who own the breweries kind of describe it too us. So that’s the idea behind these events is to educate and keep that buzz going,” Co-founder Dave Grandmaison said.

This was just the first of four scheduled discussions. Grandmaison said future talks will describe how the craft beer industry is spurring spin-off businesses, like marketing companies, and even supplying local ranchers with grain feed for cattle.

The next roundtable is set for April 13.

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BBStore

DULUTH – Every Sunday Canal Park Brewery’s cooler and Fitger’s Brewhouse Beer Store are locked and closed for business. ”You can have a pint here but we can’t fill your growler and let you leave with it because it’s Sunday,” Fitger’s Brewhouse Minister of Culture and Propaganda Brad Nelson said.

Change for that archaic law could soon be on the way.

Baby step bills are making headway at the capitol that would allow taprooms to be open and growlers to be sold on Sundays.

“A good step,” Canal Park Brewing Company Brewmaster Badger Colish said. “Helps a small portion of a larger industry right now.”

Growlers don’t hold a ton of beer, but their sales count for a lot.

“In our business growler sales can account for up to 30% of your beer volume, so it’s significant,” said Nelson.

Not being able to sell growlers one day out of the week takes away 1/7 of brewpubs avenues to generate revenue.

“It’s a tough business. The margins are slim,” said Colish. “When you take away one resource it makes it even harder.”

Three million people visit the area every year.

Not allowing them to sip Duluth’s craft beer in a tap room or take the local brew home with them on Sundays strips away loads of potential profit.

Selling growlers on Sundays could bring in at least $25,000 a year.

“So that’s money that we’re going to be able to trap and keep in our community,” said Nelson.

But it’s about more than the money.

An out of towner heading back with a growler to Canada or any of the bordering cities and states is priceless advertising for Duluth and it’s local brewpubs.

“It’s the only way we as a brewpub have to extend outside of our doors is word of mouth and their wanting to do that,” said Colish.

The proposed bills will go now go to the House.

If they are ultimately approved the bills could go into effect as soon as May.

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deepthoughts_2_14

This issue, we are going to touch on beer and food, two topics I sure love. My name is Dave Hoops, Master Brewer at Fitger’s Brewhouse in Duluth, Minnesota. In this issue we address two of my favorite topics: Food and beer. People that love great food have been pairing wine with meals for centuries. In the last 50 years or so, many have realized that beer—not wine—may be the best match for a great meal.

Beer has many components that complement food. Beer is made with barley (which adds sweetness), hops (which provide bitterness), yeast (which lend those characteristic “bready” flavors), as well as spices, nuts, chocolate, fruits, and vegetable notes. When thinking about how to pair beers with your meals, there are a few guidelines to consider.

Flavors—Complementary or Contrasting

•          Pairing a spicy meal with an IPA that boasts lots of hop flavors is an example of flavors complementing each other.

•          Pairing a Belgian White (with orange and spice flavors) with a chicken dinner is an example of using very different flavors that can make the meal interesting.

Most folks know the usual rule of thumb from the wine world: red wine goes with meat and white with fish and poultry. I will put some beer styles into this example.

•          Light Body Beers (Lager, Pilsner, Wheat): These pair well with cheese, fish, grilled pork or chicken, light pasta dishes, and Asian cuisine.

•          Medium Body
 Beers (Ale, IPA, Bitters): These pair well with burgers, wings, Mexican food, pizza, steak, and spicy food.

•          Heavy Body 
Beers (Stout, Porter, Barleywine): These pair well with smoked foods, BBQ, stew, chili, salty foods, oysters, chocolate desserts.

Now that you have read a very general beginners guide, you can start having fun. I’m remembering one of my most unique food and beer experiences and shall recount it to you here.

Food and Beer Around the World

A few years ago I traveled to Germany to attend the Brau, considered the largest brewery trade show in the world. During this trip I sampled many amazing German beers and of course the local fare. We visited a town called Kemmern located about 20 miles outside Bamberg in Bavaria. The American friend I was travelling with had previously worked at the brewery in Kemmern calledWagner-Bräu, which like many small breweries in Germany, served the local region and of course had the pre-requisite keller. We were welcomed with great fanfare and I was treated to one of the best food and beer experiences of my life. From my notes:

•          First course: Chanterelle soup, a mushroom soup with a fruity earthy aroma. Paired with Wagner Ungespundetes Lager. A young unfiltered slightly sweet lager beer.

•          Second course: Schmaltz, rendered fat used for frying or as a spread on bread. This spread had small pieces of pork in it and we had Franconian wood oven bread to slather it on. Unbelievable stuff, my mouth waters thinking of it. Paired with Wagner Pils, a traditional slightly hoppy dry lager.

•          Third course: Fränkische Bratwurst. A thick, coarse sausage, common to the whole Franconian region. This was served with a potato and cucumber salad. Paired with Wagner Cuckoo, a smoked beer.

Full story here at The Growler


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Tycoon’s Zenith Alehouse

By the turn of the 20th century, Duluth had the most millionaires of any city in the world for its size, lands bulging with untold resources, and a population fast approaching Chicago, giving credence to Dr. Thomas Foster’s 1868 claim that Duluth was the “Zenith City of the Unsalted Seas.” The lumber and mining ventures started by common men transformed them into tycoons of industry.

The city constructed a new city hall and jail in 1889 on Superior Street, replacing the old offices located above a saloon. The Richardsonian Romanesque-style building was constructed from brown sandstone quarried from Fond du Lac and moved by barge down the St. Louis River. This very same building is now home to Tycoon’s Alehouse & Eatery,  the newest establishment owned by the Fitger’s Brewhouse proprietors.

Tycoon’s Alehouse not only preserves the building’s history, but brings it back to life—so much so that they received an “Adaptive Reuse” Award from the Preservation Alliance of Minnesota. The upstairs banquet rooms offer patrons a glimpse of the grandeur from Duluth’s gilded-era, and the rathskeller peels back the layers and exposes the building’s turn-of-the-century foundations.

The bar is stocked with fresh craft beer from Fitger’s Brewhouse and the menu features many workman dishes like pot roast, smoked fish, and steak from their own Scottish Highland beef cattle. Add to that live music six nights a week from Duluth’s up-and-coming artists, as well as hometown favorites Charlie Parr and 4onthefloor, and Tycoon’s Alehouse brings the building back to the full glory of the city’s zenith.

Full story here at The Growler


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Minnesota’s Brewpubs: Where Fresh Craft Beer Meets its Culinary Match

Fitger’s Brewhouse: For nearly twenty years, Fitger’s has provided locals and travelers a place to enjoy great craft beer. Their signature beers include the cask Witchtree ESB, several classic English ales, and a wide range of seasonal beers. They have produced numerous barrel-aged beers and have occasionally offered sour beers and other unique creations. The location inside the former Fitger Brewing Co. complex provides shopping and entertainment opportunities for those who don’t want to settle in with a few pints, and the brewhouse and complex are decorated with old brewery artifacts. Fitger’s Brewhouse beers are also available at Burrito Union, Red Star Nightclub, and Tycoons Alehouse & Eatery in Duluth, and in growlers at the Brewhouse retail store, one floor below the restaurant.

Full story here at The Growler


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