What was the genesis of Brew 52?
I love beer-tasting events, but I get totally overwhelmed with all the different brews and the limited amount of time.
At last year's Autumn Brew Review, despite a valiant effort I was unable to taste every beer there, not even all the local brews, and when the haze cleared the next day I could only remember a couple of beers I enjoyed. I thought doing some sort of beer tasting event online would be interesting and eventually came up with Brew52, sampling a different Minnesota brew every week for entire year.
The bulk of the time was spent before Brew52 launched on January 1, figuring out how everything would work, designing the logo and the site, and customizing Wordpress (many thanks to my friend Ben Reichelt). Since then I've probably spent on average an hour a week, getting the beer photo and information ready. Then of course there's planning that goes into the beer list and the occasional meet-up at a brewpub.
Tell me how the users of Brew 52 contribute to the site.
Anyone can participate by registering on the site, and from there you just need to grab the beer for the week, and if you feel inclined, write a review. I've encouraged people with all types of beer knowledge to participate, and looking through the reviews you'll see that some are very detailed using all the right beer lingo, and others go off on rants about the labels. Anything goes as long as you tried it out and give it a rating.
The other side of Brew52 are the occasional brewpub meet-ups to sample beer you can't buy at a liquor store. So far we've been to the Herkimer, Town Hall, Rock Bottom, and will be heading to Barley John's for week 42.
What's the best and/or most happily surprising beer you've tried since beginning the project?
The best surprise I've had was with Schell Snowstorm which we reviewed the first week. I bought a 12-pack expecting a dark winter beer, and what I got tasted like a Hefeweizen. Only after that did I find out that they brew a different style each year, no two Snowstorms are the same. I've heard this year it's a Vienna style which may find its way into the beer list before it's all said and done.
How about the most disappointing and/or worst beer?
A friend of mine brought me a 6-pack of Brewer's Cave Caramel Lager last April. I thought he had stumbled across a hidden gem as neither of us had heard of it and the label claimed it was brewed in Minnesota. It wasn't great, which was definitely a bummer, but the real disappointment came when we reviewed it on Brew52. My friend Ben was a bit harsh, calling it "barfy" and "nasty." Well, the guy who owns the recipe took offense, sought out Ben's personal blog and made a comment warning that he should never say anything bad about his beer again. And that he wanted to meet him. Which is just creepy.
If you were going to advise someone new to the Twin Cities about local breweries and local pubs, where would you send them, and what kind of beers would you suggest that they drink?
Well if they were going to be here for a while I'd tell them to try it all. There are so many good beers brewed here. But let's say they were here for just one night, the first thing I'd do is check out MNBeer.com to see if there were any special beer releases. If not, I'd have them chug a Grainbelt Premium (come on, you have to) and bike over to Town Hall for their IPA. Man that would be a good time.
Visit Brew52 at brew52.com