Beer and Apples
Welcome to the best days in our year, also known as the last days of Pompeii. Let's make a pact to Ren Fest to the very last possible second and then grape-stomp like mad. Just trust that you can pack it all in: a happy hour in a new basement bar, a Cidery Festival at one of the best orchards on the planet, dinner in a distillery, and in the space between, don't forget to grab a moment and gawp in awe at that deep blue October sky before the darkness sets.
>> Stewart's is now open as the next iteration of the former 128 Cafe in Merriam Park. Chef-owner Max Thompson has brightened the space and virtually made you forget that you're in the basement of an apartment building. Warm wood floors and white paneled walls give a friendly surround to a flashy new full bar. Dinner only for now, but look for lunch and dinner launching next week.
>> Hey thirsty travelers, Republic at the airport will be open this Saturday. Look for lots of craft beer taps to make you smile, an abbreviated version of their pub menu plus breakfast and grab-n-go, but also remember that this is a joint venture with McNally Smith so there will actually be live music to soothe your frazzled delayed nerves. Find them on Concourse D, near C.
>> Mondays suck a little less now, because Prairie Dogs is open on them again starting with the very next one.
>> As promised, The Salt Cellar on Cathedral Hill has shed its retro steaky nature and will henceforth be known as Fitzgerald's, which begs the question: How on Zelda's hat is there not already a bar by that name in this neighborhood? The new concept includes more bar area and more bar fare such as pizza, burgers, wings and the like. Look for a mid-Oct open.
>> Verily unto thee, I do say that this is your final weekend to get out to the Renaissance Festival and seriously chew on giant turkey legs whilst quaffing flagons of mead. 'Tis the best weekend for foodists as it's Oktoberfest and there will be copious beers, homebrew competitions, stein holding contests, bier pong, and sauerkraut eating tests of strength.
>> By my true pick for Oktoberfest of the weekend, is Schwandtoberfest at Bauhaus Brew Labs this Saturday. Your $10 at the door let's you go all day with Aki's pretzels, Black Forest Inn potato salad, Gerhard's brats, potato pancakes, und bier that obviously needs a brass polka band first and the house band Viva Kneival last. Prizes for best hosen, yo.
>> This Saturday you have the chance to geek out at Sweetland Orchard's Cidery Festival which will gather some of the best local cider makers in the state, along with their bottles: Milk & Honey, Number 12, Keepsake, and Wyndfall will all be there to drill down on the booming Minnesota cider scene. Head down there from 6-9pm for a tasting, discussion of cider apples, plus picnic eats from Red Table Meats and Shepherd's Way Farms.
>> Have you got Ryder Cup fever yet? Heading out for a Carver County crawl? Well, if you can't stomach the traffic or distance, Excelsior is a great stop for the weekend. The whole town is throwing a Lake Minnetonka Block Party with favorite local boy Lumpy Herron, and there are bands, games, a jumbotron to watch the action, tons of food and drinks, even the best Hall & Oates cover band playing at Excelsior Brewing tonight. Don't skip a cone at Lick's Unlimited, FTW.
>> Heat seekers, point your chilies North this Saturday for Bent Brewstillery's 3rd Annual Heat Up Your Life party! Those who think ketchup is a spice, stay in bed. It will be a searing time from Noon to 5pm when all sorts of hot heads will gather to experience hot sauces, kimchi, salsas, kombucha, and all things Scoville rated along with live music, science guys telling you why things are hot, and a sampling flight of Bent's four pepper-infused porters. Bonus: Mrs. Dumpling eatery will be popping up and serving some preview snacks from their coming-soon dumpling shack.
>> Mill City Farmers Market really lives up to its name this weekend with the annual Bread Festival! Milling is HOT and bread is BACK IN. This Saturday you can learn about heritage grains and sourdough starters, plus enter your home baked beauties in a showcase (all participants get a free bag of heritage flour from Sunrise Flour Mill). Don't forget to check in with Fire & Flour bread dropper Chris Boles as he talks about the Slap and Fold (cheeky bit). Have butter, will travel.
>> There's still time to smash skins. Pop down to to New Ulm and Morgan Creek Vineyard for their annual Great Grape Stomp on Saturday. Even if you don't get to stomp (though you could win a case of wine if you do) there will be lots of wine flowing, flat breads and raclette for noshing, and of course, belly dancers.
>> Get it on your calendar, Vendemmia! is happening again at Broders' on Oct 9. The parking lot next to the pasta bar will be flowing with food, wine, music, and merriment as we celebrate the grape harvest and watch local wine pros toe wrestle with grapes in the Somm Stomp (which DeRusha and I will be emceeing/heckling). FREE to come.
>> Darkness Day 2016 rises on Oct. 15, and this year there will also be bottles of Damian Ale (a black ale variation and true child of Darkness) and taps of Furious Black (a softer, roasty toastier beer since it was manhandled by Dementors). Get ready to #PaintTheTownBlack.