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Minnesota Beer or Not?

For those of you who haven’t had a chance to visit either the Minneapolis or St. Paul Chatterbox lately (I just happen to have hit both within 24 hours…yeah, get a life), they’ve made some changes to their beer menu.  Several months ago they expanded their branded craft beer menu from just a couple of beers to six.  Point Brewery, in Steven’s Point, WI, contract brews for them, but I think we can say this qualifies for MNBeer attention.  Currently, Chatterbox is offering their Chatterbox Speakeasy Lager, Chit Chat Belgian White Ale, Philosopher’s Stone Belgian Style Dubbel, Zicke Zacke German Maibock, Empyreal Pale Ale, and Magnanimous Brown Ale.  My favorite is the Empyreal Pale, but I also enjoyed the Maibock and Brown.  If you can find a better way to spend a Sunday other than playing Super Mario Bros. and drinking beer, then you’d better speak up.

23 comments

  1. I tried the Dubbel and the Pale Ale a month or so at the St. Paul Chat Box and was equally impressed–both hit the spot and were right on style. Kinda like their bottles–nothing out of the ordinary, but pretty darn solid. .

  2. FYI
    Looks like they just rebrand Points existing line up of beers.
    FWIW
    http://www.pointbeer.com/seasonal_brews.php

  3. “but I think we can say this qualifies for MNBeer attention”

    Did the Gov annex Steven’s Point? So they’ve increased their out of state beer selection from 2 to 6, and this therefore qualifies it to be on MNBeer?

  4. Well, I was speaking from the perspective of supporting a MN bar. They also carry Rush River and Summit.

  5. …but it’s a good point Dave. I need to clarify the original posting to specify why its appropriate. I won’t be able to edit it until tonight. If someone else wants to today, knock yourself out.

    By the way, we should seriously consider annexing parts of Wisconsin so that when I talk about Rush River, I’m talking about a MN beer. I forget that they are across the border.

  6. I have to say I’m not a big fan of “House Beers”. I’m guessing most beer-educated people know they are just a relabeled version of some other brewery’s regular/seasonal beers. Why not just put that on instead? To me, it seems a bit deceptive and is counterproductive to the prestige they think they might be getting by having their “own beer”. I suppose there is money in it for the brewery? The restaurant/bar has to pay a fee or something to get their own “brand”?

    Not trying to stir up a hornets nest or anything, that’s just my thoughts.

  7. If you include Chatterbox beer, you’d just as well do what others do and pretend that James Page is still a Minnesota beer. I say skip it – good beer, yes, but not from Minnesota.

  8. I agree with Bock Boy. I get excited when I see a tap I don’t recognize, but then disappointed when I realize its a re-branded beer. Tiff’s does this too. Annoying.

  9. With regards to MNBeer.com, I’m for exluding rebranded beers from other states. We risk diluting the focus of MNBeer.

    That said, I do like hearing about what is happening at local beer bars, even if it is not directly about beer brewed in Minnesota. Maybe someone could start a sister site for happenings at local beer bars.

  10. Pffffft, no Hit The Spot, no care.

  11. Where do you draw the line, then? Should we not talk about out-of-state beers that are being presented at MN beer festivals? Maybe we shouldn’t talk about out-of-state beer festivals, like GG, even though MN beers are served. Maybe we shouldn’t talk about in-state beer festivals because then we avoid the risk of talking about a non-MN made beer by accident. Do we then blow off place like Rush River that, while brewing in WI, is relying pretty heavily on a MN-focused business model? Maybe we should not talk about Granite City since I think their beer is made in Iowa. I’m being a bit sarcastic here, but you get the drift.

    There isn’t really a clear line to be drawn in the sand, in my opinion. Therefore, I guess we’ll do what we can do. Clearly the preponderance of information presented here seems to be in the “box,” whatever that box is. It’d be a shame to not talk about and support local liquor stores and craft beer bars because they didn’t “qualify” by whatever definition is used. MN Beer, in my mind, is mostly about beer made in MN, but I also want to support those folks who’ve set up shop to sell me good craft beer, whether it’s made here or not.

  12. Here’s a super-quick restatement of the site’s position… the primary goal of MNBeer is to highlight all of the great things happening at Minnesota breweries, brewpubs, homebrew shops, bars and liquor stores with great beer selections. To qualify for the latter two, I’d say that the bar should devote at least 70% of it’s taps to craft beer and have at least 3 taps devoted to Minnesota-made beer. Liquor stores need to have a sizable selection of craft beer and at least 3 Minnesota breweries represented.

    Our secondary goal is to highlight all of the great things happening in craft beer in Minnesota. This includes out of state breweries, so if there’s an Ommegang tasting at Stub & Herb’s, we’re definitely going to mention it. And if New Glarus ever ends up distributing in Minnesota, we’ll mention it. That being said, we’ve been careful (I think, anyway) to make sure that breweries outside of Minnesota don’t get the same proportion of coverage as our locals do. We catch most of the major things but let others slide a bit. Beer Advocate has a “Midwest” forum that is great for that sort of thing and Twin Cities Imbiber does a nice job of covering some of these things as well.

    Does that make sense?

  13. I think wherever you draw the line of what is or is not MN beer you have to realize that this web site and the new breweries in MN would probably not exist without the breweries from outside of our state.

    Consumer choice breeds curiosity, and growing consumer curiosity breeds the need for new choices. The increase in demand for choice of craft beer makes it possible for small regional breweries and brew pubs to compete in a market dominated by large national brewers.

    My point being that whats good for craft beer as a whole is good for craft beer in MN. Teach someone to love craft beer and they will buy local craft beer.

    Chris

  14. There you go, ryan drew the line. :)

  15. Yup. A fairly blurry, squiggly line…

  16. Blurry and squiggly is good. It’s sometimes optimal to be vague.

  17. Out of curiosity, what are the MN beers they have on tap? I have not visited since the time I was told Surly was too trendy to be poured there.

  18. Wha? Surly is too trendy for a place with vintage video games? Huh?

  19. *grin* their MN crafted beers consist of Summit….and, uh…

    I don’t recall if they have Grain Belt. It’s honestly not a great selection overall in my opinion, but the expansion of their branded beers improves things. But alas, they’ve been definitionally excluded by the Powers-That-Be-And-Wear-Glasses-And-Ride-Bikes-And-Drink-Beer.

  20. I’d better add a : ) in case I’m misinterpreted.

    : )

  21. Too trendy for Surly but I bet they have PBR in 16oz cans. :-P

  22. I should clarify… MNBeer won’t intentionally snub a place that has good beer just because they selection of Minnesota-brewed beers is nil, they just won’t get the same sort of attention that we’d give to Acadia Cafe or Busters, etc.

    I didn’t want to let the cat out of the bag yet, I’m on the verge of a re-design that will include beer bars and beer-friendly liquor stores. I’m thinking that some of these places with a lower number of Minnesota beers but with a good selection of craft beers may still get mentioned, but perhaps we’ll make some sort of distinction for the bars that follow my “rules.”

    Fearing slush on the tires and the eyeglasses,

    Ryan

  23. The thing that sucks is that the Chatterbox dumped Schell’s Dark(Chatterbax Lager) and Kayak Kolsch(Chit-Chat Ale). It was one of the biggest accounts for both of these beers. From what I’ve been told the Chatterbox made the change because of price.