Archive for February, 2009

Beer Geeks Unite!

24 Feb

These are my beer guys. Everybody needs beer guys.  These two gentleman are affecting the beer scene in Mpls/St. Paul and beyond more than anyone really knows.  If you know who they are, you already know how much they have contributed to the beer movement in the Twin Cities.  If you don’t, here is a little insight into who they are. 

Corey Shovein – Hohensteins

Why beer, how did  you get in the business and why are you such nut-jobs when it comes to beer?

Got into this business while I was going to school to be a drama teacher. The owner of a company called All Saint’s Brands asked me if I had any time to put into second job. At that time I was going to school from 7 am to 2 pm and working at the empire known as Super America from 3 pm – 11 pm. Not a lot of time in there to squeeze in another job. I did however ask him what it was I would be doing. It was at that moment that the magical words “Beer Importer” were uttered and I told him that I think I could find a few hours here and there to help him out. Nut-job? Doesn’t everyone turn into a nut-job if you love what you do. I have to constantly pinch myself to make sure I am not in some sort of Super Bowl commercial. I get paid to talk about beer. Drink beer. Travel to places to drink beer and meet lots of great people. My wife tells me all the time its not a real job. 

What is worst beer you have drank?
Easily Bud Light. Tastes like spit.

Best beer experience?
I was In Belgium with Lanny and enjoying for the first time a delicious bottle of Westvleteren 12. My first “beergasm”. You always remember your first. Right?

What is your favorite wine?
What is wine? Turley Zin. Im a big fan of the bold fruit flavors in this wine.

What’s your suggestion to make beer drinking a better experience for people?
Try as many as you can and use a glass whenever you can because it opens the beer up a bit

Where do you see the industry going? What do you think of local brew scene?
I see the “craft beer” industry getting stronger every day. That has its positives and its negatives. Craft beer’s rise in popularity has opened the eyes of the large commercial breweries and forced them to find ways of capturing some of that craft scene. Lets just say good beer has gotten into a fist fight with commercial beer and has at least connected on a few blows. T.V commercials that talk about how much they nurture every beer before it gets packed up and shipped out instead of using scantily clad women or dogs to advertise their beer. The American consumer is drinking better beer at 21 than they were 10 or 15 years ago. If you start at 21 with the good stuff your palate won’t let you go back. Even in a tough economy. For the first time the U.S. craft scene is influencing the global beer community with their creativity and quality.

Local scene. Is is certainly more fertile than ever. Does that mean all the beer is good? No way! Brew good beer and people will drink it. Brew bad beer and people will send it back. Just because it is local does not mean it is all good. I believe people should support great tasting local beer not every local brewery. You are doing the industry a disservice by supporting mediocrity or worse. Unfortunately on the distribution side larger big money wholesalers, non-alcoholic wholesalers, wine wholesalers etc…. are trying to make a quick buck on the popularity of craft beer now. In my opinion stick to what you are good at. If everyone is trying to get a piece of the action be prepared for a lot of mediocrity on the shelves. The market will be flooded and their will be a ton of old beer being sold. When that happens all the band wagon jumpers will hop off again and go back to what they were doing before.


Lanny Hoff

Why beer, how did  you get in the business and why are you such nut-jobs when it comes to beer?
To be honest, I backed into the business. After graduating from college, I wandered the landscape almost aimlessly looking for a calling. I ended up at a homebrew shop, met a guy who was starting an importing company, took a position as an unpaid intern and before I knew it, I was national sales manager. Now, 14 years later I am part owner of Artisanal Imports, Inc. and represent my beer from the Mississippi River eastwards. Except in Minnesota where I cover both riverbanks.

What is worst beer you have drank?
With the exception of every bad homebrew of mine and beers that are just plain messed up, I would have to say Crucial Brew. It was a high-alcohol version of Red Stripe and tasted like Old Spice Aftershave. Don’t ask me how I know that.

Best beer experience?
The first time I passed through the gates of the Koningshoeven Trappist Brewery in Tilburg, Holland. It brought tears to my eyes it was so beautiful. I have a lot of love for that brand and the people that make it. Although I am pointedly non-religious, Koningshoeven and the Trappist Monks who run the place have my respect and radiate a calm, intelligent power. Very impressive.

What is your favorite wine?
One of the reasons I like beer is that it’s easier to keep track of. There are so many wineries, it’s hard for me to remember them, so don’t expect too many specifics. I like dry pink wines and am particularly fond of Spanish Rosado. For everyday wine, I’m a huge fan of Sineann Red Table Wine. Not sure if you can get it in MN, but I order from the winery and dig it very much.

What is your suggestion to make beer drinking a better experience for people?
Relax and trust yourself. If you think you don’t like it, move on. Don’t ever finish a beer you don’t like. It’s cheap and vulgar. Dump it out or order something else!

Where do you see the industry going?  What do you think of local brew scene?
There will be a continued expansion of craft and specialty beers and more people will jump on the bandwagon. It’s a genie that, once uncorked, cannot be bottled again. The local brew scene is looking better all the time, but without naming any names I would say I’m underwhelmed with some of the beer. We seem oddly satisfied with mediocre beer in this market and I am baffled at how some brewers can stay in business. It seems odd to me that some restaurants and bars have a “local only” policy for their beer list and choose to carry beers that are poorly made to satisfy this self-imposed limit. I don’t see any restaurants featuring “local only” wine, and I sincerely doubt that a good chef will choose low-quality “local” ingredients when other options exist. The localvore revolution is a good thing, but we can’t throw standards and quality out the window. Be critical! If the beer (or wine or food) is not good, do without or find something else.
Having said that, the bar is rising all the time and things are getting better bit by bit. There are many rays of sunshine and I am hopeful that our scene will continue to grow and improve.

All I can say after all that.  Get to know a BEER GUY!

Go ahead. Answer some of the questions yourself and let us know.

And I think my work week is busy.

11 Feb
Here Piggy, Piggy, Piggy.......

Here piggy, piggy, piggy.......

This is one of the reasons I work with farmers.  No matter how much time I put in at the restaurant, I do think of the farmers getting up earlier than I do.  Working out in the fields in all kinds of weather.  Doing what they do, because they love it.   This was a recent article that was in the Rochester Post Bulletin.

For the Kleins, that next level means increasing direct sales to consumers while finding more time to spend with their family.

Ultimately, Lisa said, the goal is “to get this good food in everyday people’s hands.”

While they want to grow their business, they continue to practice and promote sustainable farming. They remain active in Farm Beginnings, an initiative of the Land Stewardship Project that educates farmers about low-cost, sustainable farming methods. The Kleins attended the program early on and are still involved as mentors for participating farmers.

Hidden Stream Farm is by no means the only small farm trying to fill a niche in the market today, but that doesn’t worry Lisa Klein.

“The competition is there because everybody is trying to make a living doing what we’re doing,” she said. The Kleins want those competitors to thrive, not fail.

“We’d like to see more small farms succeed,” Lisa said.

Here is the full article.

Here is their website as well.

Clanceys in Linden Hills carries their pork for retail.  Call them @ 612-926-0222.