It's that time of year when our minds move to thoughts of pre-gaming in parking lots and the bounties of the fresh-hop harvest. On the way to the game grab some hot eats from an old standard (in a new location), celebrate the season with dinner on a kids farm, or welcome the tradition of Lambfest into your life.
>> Johnny Michaels has opened The Alchemist, the next avant steampunk cocktail bar, in .... White Bear Lake. Yassss! say the northerners. In the lower level of the Kellerman's Event Center, right in the center of downtown, the little slip of a bar is crafting some serious drinks. Is the WBL ready for a Starchild, a carbonated Negroni with lemon foam? I know I am. Go Bears.
>> That's right kids, another cocktail room is open! Loon Liquors opened their distillery to the public yesterday down in Northfield. It's a chill and informal space, don't be expecting anything lush and luxe for sipping your Loonshine. If you head down this weekend, you can enjoy a little revelry in the Defeat of Jesse James.
>> Plymouth has a new burger and beer spot, Rock Elm Tavern is now open in the former Digby's space on 24 and 55. The space has been downsized the bar moved over, and there's whole fresh load of barnwood is use. Nothing but luck to these guys.
>> Yum! Kitchen & Bakery 2.0 is open out in Minnetonka. They've got all the same foods but a smashing little patio out there.
Here are some beer situations:
>> Liftbridge Brewery's annual Pickin' and Grinnin' Anniversary Party is this weekend and I can tell you first-hand, it's a HOOT! Get over there on Saturday and help them pick the fresh hops that will go into their seasonal Harvestor Beer. While you're pickin' there will be plenty of suds (finally, a place where you can drink while you work!), food trucks, usually cookies, and some good ol' bands. It's free to go, but let them know you're coming.
>> Also on Saturday, Summit Brewery is celebrating their 29th birthday with a big Backyard Bash! Besides John Munson and The Suburbs (!) there will tons of music, the MN United soccer players, cask beers tapped continuously throughout the day, food from World Street Kitchen, Pizza Luce, Frio Frio and more.
>> Out in the burbs, Prairie Brewfest is happening on Saturday in EP. There's plenty of parking, lots of park land to stroll, beers, and far fewer annoying beards than other beer fests. And it's for the community.
>> The road-trip option is easy: Brau Brothers is hosting HopFest once again down on their brewery grounds in Marshall. This one runs Friday from 5-Midnight, and Saturday from noon-Midnight with all the casks, barrels, limited special beers, kids, pets, games, food, and fun.
And non beer situations:
>> Maybe it's not grains, but grapes you seek. Check out Sovereign Estates Grape Jam and Stomp this weekend. Besides turning your tootsies purple, you can enjoy live bands, local wine tastings, vittles from the BBQ truck, and such harvesty fun.
>> Sunday night is the first installment of the Iron Bartender competition. All your favorite mixers in town will show up ready to compete against each other in a boozy battle royale that lasts four weeks. Come down to the Pourhouse to cheer on your favorites, plus perhaps get some sips of the competition libations.
>> Get your head in the game and get tickets to Lambfest 7.0 on Sunday the 19th! What started as a quaint little staff cookout for the kids at Solo Vino, over the years blossomed into a invite-only joyous celebration of roasted lamb. Last year, it overtook a victorian home with revelry and nearly busted a garage out with rose bottles. This year, for the first time, the event is going public and doing good. Chuck Kanski is taking the fest to the German Institute as a fundraiser for the Jared P. Stene Leadership Foundation and pitting chef teams against each other to cook and serve whole lambs. These people know something about throwing a party. Get there.
I honestly don't know how we're going to get it all done this week, chums.