On Friday, Oct. 2 I cruised up to Minot after work to attend a fun event at Gourmet Chef in downtown Minot. The event was labeled Craft Beer 101 and went from 6:30-8:30 p.m.
Before I get into the event details I just have to gush how gorgeous the setting at Gourmet Chef is. They have expanded and they now have a full commercial kitchen in the back along with seating for about a dozen and a TV that displays what the chef/speaker is doing. So awesome! If you need any kitchen gadget, dishes, foods, etc. – you need to visit Gourmet Chef.
Leading the class was Jon Lakoduk, one of only two certified Cicerones in North Dakota. The other is in Fargo. What is a cicerone? A cicerone is a guide who passed an in-depth test (three hour test and one hour tasting) with knowledge of beer history, styles, ingredients and food pairings among other things. This is obviously a big accomplishment and Jon is studying to be a Master Circerone of which there are only 10 in the world! He currently has a day job but would love for beer to be his main job one day. I heard you there, Jon! He was fun, laid back and not pretentious. A cicerone could be compared to a wine sommelier but for beer.
Jon covered a little bit about home brewing and what that involved but with a two-hour class, we got focused on beer tasting. We had 9 beers to taste! Jon did give us some beer history which I found interesting. A few highlights for fellow beer nerds:
- In 1870 there were 4,100 breweries in the U.S.
- In 1970 there were 100 breweries in the U.S. – Prohibition took a hit on breweries and beer styles that were popular prior to Prohibition.
- In 2015 there are 4,000 breweries in the U.S. – getting back to 1870 numbers, but of course the U.S. has a much larger population now.
- Fritz Maytag (yes, of the Maytag Corporation family) has been credited with the craft beer renaissance in the U.S. after purchasing Anchor Brewing Company in California in 1965.
- President Carter signed a bill (1979) allowing home brewing to become legal, which helped grow craft breweries and lead to the legalization of brewpubs in the early 1980’s in the Pacific NW. Regulation of alcohol is left to the states and finally in 2013, Mississippi and Alabama were the final two states to pass legislation to permit brewing at home. Unfortunately, there are some local governments that make homebrewing illegal under municipal law, such is the case in Alaska.
- New Albion Brewing Company is known as the first American craft beer brewery founded in 1976 in California.
BEERS – served to us by three lovely ladies in corn resin cups (not plastic as that would affect the taste of the beer). Each beer was printed on paper and that told the ABV (alcohol %), IBU (bitter units) and SRM or standard reference method which usually specifies the beer color. Pairing of foods were suggested and the beer availability was listed.
- Goose Island 312 Wheat Ale – a super easy to drink light beer, summery and crisp. If you prefer to only drink light beer, try this one.
- Third Street Rise to the Top Cream Ale – I didn’t pick up any cream ale flavor, but again fruity and easy to drink.
- Bell’s Midwestern Pale Ale – I picked up a strong grapefruit taste. I don’t think this would be a pick for those who say they don’t care for “hoppy” beers. I think this is the beer where one of our male classmates suggested this tasted like cat piss and would be best served with Meow Mix. I about busted a gut laughing! Good thing we all have different experiences. Ha!
- Green Flash Citra Session Ale – this was new to me and is only available July – October. It wasn’t my preferred beer. Could be paired with a carrot cake and then I might like it!
- Bik Sky Moose Drool – a solid favorite of mine easily available in ND since it is brewed in MT. This is a dark brown and has notes of coffee and chocolate when smelled and tasted.
- Fargo Sodbuster Porter – a beer brewed in Fargo, this is a favorite of many. Not so much mine. Would go great served with dessert as I think most porters would be.
- Bell’s Kalamazoo Stout – I tasted chocolate, coffee and cherry in this smooth, black beer. At first I didn’t care for it but the more I drank it, I liked it even better.
- Goose Island Sofie – another new to me beer. This is a saison (Belgium-French) style beer which was initially brewed for farmers working fields. It is named Sofie after the founder’s granddaughter and is pale in color like champagne which is the bottle style it is served in. I loved this beer and bought it the next day. You have notes of citrus, pepper and orange. Suggested pairings are rind cheeses or ripened goat cheese. This is also the best beer to serve with Thanksgiving – who needs wine?!
- New Belgium Le Terrior 2015 – a strong 7.5% abv and deep amber color, I like almost all New Belgium beers. The ones I have tasted tend to be strong and near the end of the tasting experience which means they are strong and full of flavor. This is a sour beer and the more I sipped, the more I enjoyed this one. It makes for such a neat experience to taste all the different styles of beers out there. At this point, I feel like my inhibitions are relaxed and I’m easier to say I love that beer. But this was a great way to end the tasting.
Last, but certainly not least was the food we were served by The Wurst Place. This restaurant isn’t actually open yet, so what a treat for us! It will be downtown and from the name, I gather it’ll be a German-style place. I can’t wait to try it out. We were served pulled pork sliders topped with coleslaw and an eggless potato salad. The sliders had the perfect amount of pork, sauce and slaw so they weren’t too messy. The buns were the highlight for me – they seemed like an eggy type of bread and were so soft. I generally love eggs the most in the potato salad but was surprised by how good this eggless salad was. It was super tart and mustardy which I liked.
Gourmet Chef has classes throughout the month and the schedule is posted on their website. I know I will return!
Besides having great beer and some tasty food, I was happy to share this experience with my lifelong friend, Kristin. I have literally known her my whole life. Not much can beat those type of friendships.
All the beers we sampled. I love the art and different bottle styles. If you get a chance, go try some beer. You might not love it all but it is fun to try!
I stayed with my grandmother in Minot and the next day we dined at Sweet & Flour Patisserie in downtown. I had a feta salad and Grannie has a chicken salad sandwich. This is a fun place with a great vibe. If you get a chance, check it out. They are really known for their quiche and desserts.
So glad to see my Minot friends and family. I miss them!