Why You Should Check Out Lowertown’s Barrel Theory Beer Company

Being born and raised in Wisconsin, you know I’m a beer girl!  One of my favorite things to do is explore local hotspots, whether it be in a city I’m visiting or the city I currently call home.  As someone who loves craft beer, finding new breweries to sample has become somewhat of a hobby.  You can really get a feel for a city and its neighborhoods just by spending a few hours in one of their breweries!

Barrel Theory Taps

Barrel Theory Beer Company, located in the Lowertown neighborhood of Saint Paul, Minnesota, opened its taproom in June of this past summer.  A short walk from both the Xcel Energy Center and CHS Field, this is the perfect place to grab a local brew or two before Minnesota Wild or Saint Paul Saints games!

Upon entering, I fell in love with the decor.  Hardwood floors and stone walls are two of the features I picture in Saint Paul architecture and Barrel Theory has both.  The taproom is not overly large but has a wraparound bar and window seating that gives it a cozy feel.  The hanging wire lighting twisted into a petal shape and brightly colored beer signs add just the right personality and artsy touch.

Barrel Theory Taproom

The menu featured a nice selection of IPAs and stout beers with a few other products for variety.  Instead of serving flights, Barrel Theory offered all of their beers in 4 oz. pours so you could sample as many as you like before settling on a favorite.  Their beer philosophy is simple: if they aren’t proud of it, they won’t serve it!  As someone who sampled my fair share, I didn’t find one I didn’t like.

Barrel Theory Samples

The Black Lotus, a coconut milk stout, was by far my favorite.  It tasted smooth and left a refreshing coconut taste on your tongue after sipping.  My second favorite was, without a doubt, Java Oats, a coffee oatmeal stout.  How can you go wrong with a coffee-flavored beer? With two of my favorites in one craft brew, sign me up for that!  My favorite IPA was Droptops.  It’s the dead of winter here in Minnesota and just the name conjured driving down palm tree-lined streets of Cali in a vintage droptop.  Ordered mostly for the name, the flavor did not disappoint!

What are your favorite places to explore?  Do you have a favorite brewery in your city?  I’d love to visit some of your favorites!

Twin Cities Winter Bucket List

Instead of the 12 Days of Christmas, I’m challenging you to 12 days of winter fun! Because only in Minnesota is the state’s biggest outdoor beer festival held in the dead of winter…

1. Practice your backward crossovers at Wells Fargo WinterSkate

2. Howl for FREE Cherry Berry during the 4th quarter of a Minnesota Timberwolves game

IMG_3175

3. Cheer on Minnesota native Cameron Naasz at the Red Bull Crashed Ice season opener

4. Go fly a kite at the Lake Harriet Winter Kite Festival

5. Watch some fireworks or your favorite holiday movie at the Holidazzle Winter Wonderland

6. Don your ugliest Christmas sweater and participate in your favorite winter fun run

IMG_3217

7. Celebrate the “State of Hockey” at a Minnesota Wild game

8. Get your drink on at the Winter Beer Dabbler, Minnesota’s biggest outdoor beer festival

9. Attend the Tree Lighting Ceremony at 50th & France

10. Fly down The Big Hill on a snow tube at Green Acres

11. Rent a party bus, spike your hot chocolate and check out Holiday Lights in the Park

12. Lace up your warmest boots and explore Stillwater’s Ice Castles

IMG_3216

What are your favorite winter activities?  What would you add to your winter bucket list?

10 Things You Must Eat {or Drink} at Target Field

Buy me some peanuts and crackerjacks…

Summer is just around the corner and if you’re anything like me, that means baseball season! The best thing about baseball season in the Twin Cities is that you can enjoy a game even if you’re the most casual baseball fan.

Here in Minnesota, going to a St. Paul Saints or Minnesota Twins game is as much a social event as a sporting event. Both have gorgeous outdoor stadiums set in scenic downtown locations with fabulous pre- and postgame local hotspots nearby! I will talk more about the St. Paul Saints and CHS Field in a later post but today I’d like to talk to you about one of my favorite things: Target Field FOOD!

Yes, that’s right, FOOD! I have personally taste tested almost every item at Target Field (before you judge, I worked there so ballpark food was a job perk!) and have rounded up ten of my favorites: new and old!

Hrbek’s Bloody Mary

What better way to start a day at the ballpark than with a Bloody Mary and Hrbek’s has the best! This year’s newest creation is the Triple Sausage Bloody Mary with a garnish including three types of Kramarczuk’s sausages. While delicious, I’m a bit nostalgic for the Bigger Better Burger Bloody Mary and was delighted to see my favorite brunch drink was still available with a bacon burger slider on top! For those who can’t decide which sounds better, never fear: of course Hrbek offers a Double Threat so you can have the best of both worlds in one amazing drink! I’m convinced it’s actually called the Double Threat because it’s so big the drink doubles as a meal. For those of you with classic tastes or smaller appetites (or who like to save room to try more ballpark eats!), a classic bloody mary is available and just as delish!

Bloody Mary

Pizza Luce

I was SO excited when this local pizza place got called up to the big leagues last season and they did not disappoint! While I absolutely love the Athena, how can the slice named after my favorite bear and MLB mascot not be my favorite?! Modeled after the Bear, the TC Bear is a must-try for meat lovers and non-locals who have yet to experience the joy of Pizza Luce. I also love that even at the ballpark, they offer gluten free pizza options. Located in center field at Minnie and Paul’s, your personal slice of heaven also comes with an amazing view at no extra charge!

Roots for the Hometeam

I can’t go to a weekend game without stopping to get one of these amazing salads! Not only do I feel good about what I’m eating but I feel even better for supporting local youth garden programs! All of the salad ingredients are grown locally and the youth from the programs are integral in creating the recipes that are served up on Saturdays and Sundays at the ballpark. Sue and her team are so passionate about this project and I’m inspired by how much they’ve grown her vision! Of course, my favorite part (even more than eating the delicious salads!) is meeting the young members of the various youth garden programs as they pass out samples in the plaza and help operate the stand. While there are many salad recipes, they rotate through their offerings and have two options available each weekend.  However, I have yet to try one I didn’t love!

If you’re interested in learning more about Sue, the youth garden programs, and Roots for the Hometeam, click here!

Kramarczuk’s

I’m from Wisconsin so summer doesn’t officially start until I’ve had my first brat of the season. I had never had a Kramarczuk’s until last baseball season and now they’re a must-have. I’m more of a traditionalist when it comes to my sausage so bratwurst or cheddar-wurst (true cheesehead here) are my go-to choices but I’ve heard nothing but great things about their polish sausage as well! Speaking of Kramarczuk’s, I highly recommend trying the Kurd-marczuk, one of this year’s new menu options. A souvenir mini-helmet full of various Kramarczuk’s sausage slices, deep-fried cheese curds, gravy, and shredded cheese: I also highly recommend sharing with a friend!

Kurd-marczuk

State Fair Foods

So, I might have cheated on this one a bit but this is HANDS-DOWN my favorite stand! The Great Minnesota Get Together is a summer staple and how great that you can get state fair food while watching baseball?! But seriously, did you know you can get FRIED PICKLES at the ballpark? And they’re delicious! Anyone from Minnesota or Wisconsin has probably been to at least one fish fry (I sort of think it might be a rite of passage) and I was blown away by how good the fish n’ chips were at this stand! There can be a wait time for the fish some nights but in my opinion, it is well worth it! Pulled pork sandwiches are another favorite of mine and again, State Fair Foods exceeded my expectations. Throw in that side of cheese curds in the little Leinenkugel’s canoe and I am one happy cheesehead!

Caprese Burger

A Legend’s Club exclusive, this burger just tastes like summer to me. Stacked with two patties, it’s a generous portion packed with even more flavor! I’m not sure if it’s the balsamic, tomatoes, or mozzarella cheese but I was addicted after my first bite!

Chicken Tender Helmet

I don’t know if it’s nostalgia for my childhood or what, but I LOVE chicken tenders. These are juicy, lightly breaded, and come served on a bed of perfectly salted, crispy French fries. Yes please! And yes, you are absolutely going to pay more for the helmet option but it’s the perfect size for sharing with a friend and cheaper than paying for two baskets! Plus, if you have kids or are just a big kid yourself like I am, you’ve got a built-in souvenir.

Candy Station in Champions Club

The Champions Club is filled with amazing, gourmet food and even better, it’s almost entirely complimentary. But I’d be lying if I didn’t tell you that my favorite part is their candy stations, just don’t tell the Champions Club manager (sorry Steve)! I have a serious sweet tooth and no meal is complete without dessert of some kind. Sour Patch Kids, chocolate covered peanuts, gummi bears, peanut butter cups: with all the options, I’m like, well…a kid in a candy store!

60/40 Burgers

Despite adding a new Red Cow stand in Minnie & Paul’s last season (right next to Pizza Luce), the OG 60/40 will always be my favorite. I’m a sucker for a good burger (there’s a reason I have two of them on this list) and it’s tough to beat these bacon topped sliders! Be prepared to stand in line because I am not the only Target Field regular to worship these.  But again, well worth the wait!

Helmet Cookie Sundae

Finally, another dessert and another helmet option because baseball and ice cream is what it’s all about on a hot, summer day. This refreshing treat is served only in the Metropolitan Club so if you’re not a season ticket holder, you’d better buddy up to one fast! A scoop of ice cream wedged between two fresh-baked chocolate chip cookies served in a Twins mini-helmet: need I say more?

Helmet Cookie Sundae

I’m sure you’re at the bottom of this list and yelling, “How could you not include mini donuts?!” (I guarantee if you aren’t, my friend Alison is!) One of the best things about Target Field is their mouth-watering food selection (and expanding vegan and gluten free options!) and I’m never going to turn down Helmet Nachos but (most) of the items on this list are food items that I feel are unique to the taste of Target Field.

What are some of your favorites? What item(s) can you not resist when visiting Target Field?  What are some of your favorites from your local ballpark?

%d bloggers like this: