Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Drive: Sioux Falls to Herkimer to Chippewa Falls

"Your world is as big as you make it." ~Georgia Douglas Johnson

June 30: Left Sioux Falls and headed east again. Stopped at a rest stop so Jon could make coffee for himself. We'd found some coffee and filters, but no filter cone, so Jon made one out of an aluminum foil mini-bread pan (photos L and R).

We drove straight and far across Minnesota, and I snapped a picture out the window of this old farmer on his antique tractor (photo below).

The plan was to stop in both Minneapolis and St. Paul, and visit both Herkimer Brewing Co. and Summit Brewing Co. Unfortunately we were running short on time, and since it was a Saturday and thus hard to contact brewers, we picked Herkimer Brewing Co. in the Uptown neighborhood of Minneapolis.

Brewer Dave Hartmann gave us directions around the massive construction project in front of the brewpub, and around the corner to a street with enough parking for our rig. This was a high-density urban area so we really appreciated Dave's advance scouting.

Enjoyed Dave's company and his beers, the hot afternoon sunshine, and a tour of the brewery. Herkimer's monoblock system is sunk into the floor, which is why Dave looks like a giant towering over his 8.5-bbl kettle (photo right). They've got a huge basement, which is where Dave sets up the spent grain buckets while the German-style lauter tun rakes the spent grain down the chute. (Sort of over-engineered for a 8.5 barrel brewery.)

Then back on the road to Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin where we would be spending the night with MBAA Technical Director Ray Klimovitz and his wife Jan. (Photo at top of page.) Ray and Jan live in a quiet neighborhood that I swear is landscaped by elves. Each house and lawn is perfectly kept up and manicured, all the sprinklers turning on magically at dawn.

Ray invited us down to his basement bar, which doubles as a blackjack table. We admired the beer-bottle-cap wallpaper and the beer-bottle wallpaper trim. Ray's full-sized basement fridge was fully stocked with all sorts of exotic and craft beer, as Ray not only runs the MBAA Packaging Technology Course each spring, he also consults with breweries all over the country. Jon and I picked some Wisconsin beers to sip and Jan joined us at the bar with their dog named Guinness.

Jan and Ray have exquisite decorating taste, and as former Baltimoreans, they have transplanted their fondness for Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia into their decorating scheme. In fact, Jon and I stayed in the "Williamsburg Room," and they have a miniature diorama of Williamsburg in their basement. I had the audacity to ask where the Lionel train and tracks were, because it looked like a train diorama, but of course Colonial Williamsburg represents a point in time well before locomotives.

We enjoyed a lovely dinner on the Klimovitz's outdoor patio. The evening air was cool and refreshing, a few distant pop-pop-pops of early fireworks floated in on the breeze. The dinner of steak, scalloped potatoes and asperagus was as delightful as Ray and Jan's company. After dinner we relaxed over two bottles of New Glarus Brewing's excellent sour fruit beers, one bottle each of Wisconsin Belgian Red (tart pie cherries), and New Glarus Raspberry Tart.

Ray and I had fun catching up on MBAA people and events, and Jon and I had fun getting to know Jan better. It really was a darn nice evening.

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