Four Firkins specialty beer store launches fundraiser to open second location

Categories: Beer, Q&A

photo courtesy of Four Firkins
The crowds at the grand opening in 2011.

It's easy to get caught up in the excitement over the Northeast Brew District, the many new beers on the market, and the wonderful festivals across the state. However, the beer business isn't just taking off in taprooms and at festivals; the booming business is affecting all sectors, notably retail.

In 2011, the Four Firkins opened a craft beer specialty shop in St. Louis Park. The store focuses on providing detailed knowledge of the craft, superior customer service, and, of course, a larger range of tasty and smaller batch beers than most liquor stores about town.

The store recently announced plans to expand from its single storefront to upwards of five locations. They're currently on step one of that plan, raising funds for a second store in Woodbury, and to help them on their journey, they have started an Indiegogo crowd funding site. The Hot Dish talked with owner Jason Alvey about the expansion plans and the challenges they foresee in the market.

See also:
Celebrate National Night Out 2013 with free beer from the Four Firkins

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Tricia Cornell on how to shop Minnesota's farmers markets like a pro [RECIPE]

The Minnesota Farmers Market Cookbook by Tricia Cornell

It seems like a shopping no-brainer: instead of getting in your gas guzzler and motoring across town to a big box grocery store for your imported asparagus from Peru or heads of garlic from China, you spend your hard-earned food budget at your neighborhood farmers market, supporting the farmers who live and work near you, and getting the best quality produce you can. So why are so many people intimidated by the farmers market, and so few see it as a legitimate place to shop and feed their families?

Tricia Cornell tackles this question in her latest book, The Minnesota Farmers Market Cookbook. Brimming with easy to accomplish recipes, the book also includes a comprehensive directory of farmers markets throughout the region, and helpful notes on each type of produce covered, so you can shop and cook with confidence. She took the time to chat with us about kohlrabi, the lies we've been told about stir fries, and all of her best tips for shopping locally like a pro.

The Hot Dish: Describe your new cookbook. What should readers expect?

Tricia Cornell: The most exciting thing about The Minnesota Farmers Market Cookbook is that it's organized by product, so that you can experience it the same way you experience the farmers market. You can either start at the beginning of a row and walk all the way through, or you can drop in and see what you see in front of you, or you can go straight to the beets if you need beets. So the book is organized that same way.

HD: Why did you decide to write this book? Your previous book, Eat More Vegetables, tackles the questions of what to do with your seasonal produce. How does this book differ from or expand on the first?

Well, that book was also a lot of fun to write. That was 100% my recipes and the foods that my family eats at home. This book allowed me to talk to a lot of really dedicated farmers and chefs, some of them practically celebrities here in Minnesota and some them ordinary farmers market fellows. And the other thing is that this book allowed me to get really in depth and geeky on each vegetable in a way that I wasn't able to do so much in the first book. I take you through how to find a vegetable, when to buy it, what to when you get it home, how to store it...So, yeah, it's a little geekier on the vegetable front.

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Badger Hill Brewing looks south of the river

Categories: Beer, Q&A

Photo courtesy of Badger Hill Brewing

Badger Hill Brewing Company started making beer in 2012, sharing production space with Lucid and Bad Weather in a unique arrangement. Currently the brewery is prepping for a move to their own turf, trying to finalize on a property in the southern suburbs. The family run brewery was founded by husband and wife pair Broc and Britt Krekelberg and Broc's brother, Brent. They chose their name based on old English translations of "Broc" and "Brent." The brewery also just added a new head brewer, Michael Koppelman (who will share other duties in the company as well).

The Hot Dish spoke with Britt about the brewery's goals, identity, and the difference between brewing in Colorado and Minnesota.

See also:
Lucid Brewing: the Minnesota beverage industry is all about Mom and Pop shops
Mike Hoops on brewpubs' challenges

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Town Hall's Mike Hoops on the challenges facing brewpubs

Categories: Beer, Q&A


Minnesota's craft brew scene is booming right now. However, the 1990s also saw an increase in Minnesota beer production, only to then see most of those companies wither on the vine. One of the survivors, Town Hall Brewery not only has supplied talented staff to many of the current start-ups, but the brewpub has also won a wealth of awards and expanded from their original Seven Corners location, adding neighborhood installations such as Town Hall Tap and, recently, Town Hall Lanes.

As the brewpub turns 16 this week, the Hot Dish caught up with 13-year veteran brewmaster Mike Hoops to talk about the unique challenges facing brewpubs, the state of the local industry, and whether or not he still has time for home-brewing.

See also:
Town Hall Brewery celebrates 16 years of beer all week long
Great Waters brewpub: "It's never a straight path"

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Big Wood Brewery on Morning Wood and how to stand out on the shelf

Categories: Beer, Q&A


The makers of the award-winning Morning Wood coffee stout, Big Wood Brewery, clearly don't take themselves too seriously. But there's more to the name than a double entendre. Big Wood's origins tie to owner Steve Merila's past in the wood flooring industry, where he began brewing beers on the side to perk up the spirits of struggling contractors during the economic downturn. That brewing hobby took root, Merila teamed up with Jason Medvec and Ty McBee, and Big Wood was a growing entity... so to speak.

Medvec, who has a background in advertising and also moonlights as the Marketing Committee Chair on the Minnesota Craft Brewer's Guild, epitomizes the ongoing question in the industry: How to establish a strong craft beer market in general while simultaneously focusing on the growth of his own company.

The start-up White Bear Lake brewery has three regular beers in their stable along with a rotation of "Randomly Brewed Beers" -- beers that are similar to seasonal rotations at other breweries, but in styles that are not necessarily tied to the time of year, such as their Bad Axe (double IPA) and Forest Fire (smoke imperial rye). Big Wood hopes to open their taproom to the public this winter. The Hot Dish called up co-owner Medvec to chat about their start-up, taproom construction, and how Big Wood separates itself from its peers.

See also:
612 Brew talks taprooms, room for more breweries
Lucid Brewing: "The Minnesota beverage industry is all about Mom and Pop shops"

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Chef Patrick Weber on rock 'n' roll and why chefs throw things

Each week, we'll interview two of the chefs participating in our 2013 Iron Fork competition. On November 7th, these six culinary masterminds will go head to head to see who can create the most appetizing and healthful dish using a secret ingredient provided by Lunds. For more information on the event, or to purchase your tickets, click here.

Chef Patrick Weber

Patrick Weber
Chef Instructor
Arts Institute International Minnesota

His resume is impressive: He studied at the Culinary Institute of America in New York; earned his bachelors in Hotel and Restaurant Management in Miami; and has worked with such nationally recognized chefs as David Bouley in New York, Jay Sparks in Minneapolis, Guenter Seeger in Atlanta, and Mark Militello in Miami.

See also:
Iron Fork 2013 presale begins today

City Pages Iron Fork 2012: People and Food
Food Porn: Iron Fork 2012

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Northbound Smokehouse: Free beer for life has staying power

The three co-owners of Northbound Smokehouse: chef Bryce Strickler; manager Amy Johnson, and brewer Jamie Robinson.

It was an ambitious goal. To raise the final amount needed to open a small brewpub in Minneapolis, the owners of Northbound Smokehouse offered investors of $1,000 or more free beer for life. Did it work? Oh, did it ever.

We talked recently with Northbound brewer and part owner of the new south Minneapolis hot spot, Jamie Robinson, who brought us up to speed on how the unique business model is paying off for the six-month-old brewery, and what's coming next.

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10 questions for Meritage chef Russell Klein

Categories: Q&A

Meritage Oyster Bar.jpg
Meritage chef Klein talks oysters, French cooking, good and bad meals, and plans for the future
Expect to see the streets of St. Paul paved deep with oyster shells on Sunday, September 30, the date of the second-annual OysterFest, Meritage's bivalve bacchanal. Amid the planning for celebrity shuck-offs and dancing in the street, Russell Klein, chef and co-proprietor of Meritage, took time recently to ponder the meaning of the French restaurant, comment of the role of awards in the culinary world, tell us where he and his wife and co-owner Desta like to eat when they're not eating at what many folks consider the best restaurant in St. Paul, and drop a few hints about what they're planning next.

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Local author Tricia Cornell tells us how to eat more veggies

Categories: Q&A

Snazzy veg-filled cover!
Just in time for CSA season comes local author (and past City Pages contributor) Tricia Cornell's new book Eat More Vegetables: Making the Most of Your Seasonal Produce to store shelves. Baffled by what to do with all that fall squash or early summer kohlrabi? Cornell has been there, and her book tackles everything from keeping your crisper from becoming a veggie graveyard to advice on shopping at your local farmer's market.

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Prima's Eliot and Jennifer Jackson-King: Chef Chat, part 3

Categories: Q&A

Michelle Bruch
Jennifer grew up on a farm, but New York-native Eliot had a lot to learn about rural life.

Prima's husband-and-wife operators come from very different backgrounds. Chef Eliot King grew up in New York City; Jennifer Jackson-King grew up on a dairy farm near Brainerd.

Eliot has since embraced Jennifer's rural roots, and he's spending summer mornings raising produce that goes on the menu at Prima each night.

As for Jennifer, she's leaving work to strap on cowboy boots and compete in horse-riding tournaments.

We sat down with the couple to talk about their life after-hours. This is the third in a three-part series. (Read Part 1 and Part 2 here.)

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