Monday, October 17, 2005

the rest of the day (or: Good Beer Discussed Here)

As always after a trip to the cities, I was relieved and comforted to return home to Sand Creek on Saturday night. However, I did not make such a hasty retreat from civilization as to neglect some of the pleasures the city has to offer. I took the kids to a bookstore and they had about as much fun browsing as I did; I bought a book I had been wanting to read for some time that the local library does not have in their collection. This was perhaps the first book I have bought new in years. Then I braved downtown Minneapolis and thousands of slightly inebriated Gopher and Badger fans, the latter camp celebrating, to make a stop at my favorite liquor store. Why is it my favorite? Sierra Nevada, $9.97 a 12 pack, Two Hearted Ale $6.57 a six pack. At those prices, I can afford to drink better beer than the usual.

With the traffic jam trying to head out along Washington Avenue, I had no hope of jumping on the freeway quickly, so I turned the other direction and escaped Minneapolis right through the heart of the city on Central Avenue going north. I had been thinking about how they recently converted the four lane highway near my parents' house to a full-fledged freeway, tearing out two blocks of houses and a lakeside park in the process, and how much that seemed to change the drive there. The road no longer is a part of the community, but just a high speed vein to bypass it. Do we all need to be that much in a hurry? And what do we miss along the way?

I drove past old industrial complexes, grain elevators, railroad tracks, and Northeast Minneapolis neighborhoods that still seemed to have a life of their own. I had to stop at the stop lights and look at the businesses on the street corners. Cozy bars. Ethnic markets. Coffee houses. People walking, stopping to chat on the sidewalk.

I didn't rejoin the freeway until Central Avenue had given way to miles of strip malls, auto dealerships, and hot rod parts stores. Just get me out of here quickly now that the best part is behind me. I set the cruise control on 69 and watched as nearly every other car passed me. Why? What's the rush? Is this freeway just a competition, like everything else? I glanced out the window occasionally, knowing just where to look to see an eagle's nest, catching a glimpse of my old house on the pond where a pair of loons used to nest. I used to hear the drone of the traffic all night, everyone busy going somewhere.

I only passed one car the whole way back; as I approached from behind I saw a familiar-looking black Escort sedan going just slightly slower than I was. As I passed I glanced and saw my neighbors D & P. I tried to wave, to catch their attention; I don't know if they saw.

When we returned home, weary from the road, The Hermit had a lasagna waiting in the oven (store-bought, but at that point it tasted pretty good). A friend had called, inviting us to a bonfire at his place. We took one case of Sierra Nevada and headed over with the kids. In the cool night air, with a waxing moon shining in the sky, we amazed at the warmth generated by a pile of pine boughs. It was the kind of bonfire where your back is freezing, but your front is blistering, and there's no in between.


Jim said...


Two-hearted ale, I haven't heard of that one and it's always good to discover a new beer.

I'm glad you took the Sierra Nevada to the bonfire, that way you can save a couple of bottles of Two-Heart for your trip to the Earth Home Garden library.

That way you can get lost in the books, and I'll have a new brew to keep me company, but I may interrupt your browsing long enough to get you to play me a song on my old Gibson.

Glad you got home safe.

Deb said...

Jim, I'm envious of you, living in California where you can buy good beer anywhere, any day (in MN strong beer is only in liquor stores, no Sunday sales. :( ) Do you have Anderson Valley beers there in Big Bear Lake? My all time favorite beer, which I've probably mentioned a few times on this blog, is Hop Ottin' IPA. Two Hearted is the closest I can find to that around here; good full flavor, and very hoppy.

I hope to make that pilgrimage to Earth Home Garden Library some day.

pablo said...

And she enjoys good beers! Will the wonders of this woman never cease?

Pray tell, forsooth: what was the book you indulged yourself in? I am delighted to hear that your children enjoyed their time in the bookstore. It's anecdotes like that which convince me that there is hope for the future of the world.

Deb said...

pablo-your local brew, Boulevard, was one thing that made my time in Missouri more bearable, that and the box turtles and Carolina wrens and tufted titmice.

As for the book, it was Kerouac's The Dharma Bums. Sooner or later, after visiting some of the blogs I like regularly, I had to read it.

I had to remind the kids that we were not in a library, and my check card doesn't quite work like a library card, although I would gladly indulge all of their book requests if I could.

Jim said...


Hop Ottin' IPA is definitely one of my very favorites, but my all-time favorite, Blind Pig IPA has unfortunately ceased to exist.

Thankfully, Vinnie, the brewmeister responsible for Blind Pig, now owns & operates the Russian River Brewery in Northern California brewing the delicious Russian River IPA.

And yes, we have a great liquor store, Pirate's Alley, a couple of miles from here with an extensive selection of great beer & wine.

One of the neccesary perks of living too near "civilization" is having access to a delicious relaxing distraction that makes it all a bit more tolerable.

The next time I go in there maybe I'll take a photo of the selection and post it on the blog just to whet yer whistle.


the dharma bum said...

it sounds like it was a good day to come home and be with friends and family. amen to beer, especially of the good kind. i always keep coming back to summit extra pale ale, lately i've been on that kick again and it's a good kick to be on. probably have to pick up some two-hearted ale when i feel like a little splurge sometime soon. what was the liquor store you visited? surdyk's by any chance?

so glad to hear you picked up the dharma bums... i have a feeling you're going to enjoy it a lot if you enjoyed on the road even a little.

Deb said...

More reasons why I should not blog at work: You're all making me thirsty! The only problem with beer is, one is okay but any more and my musical ability begins to deteriorate. The key is to keep the audience drinking at the same rate as me, so it all sounds the same to them.

dharma bum--yes, Summit extra pale is another favorite. The store is Liquor Depot, right off of 35W on Washington, going towards downtown. Pretty close to the Metrodome.

Jim said...


dharma bum & I will try to keep pace with you so the music appreciation doesn't suffer, and db, that Summit Extra Pale sounds interesting too.

Floridacracker said...

A little intimidated by the expert beer knowledge here...I like the gold kind with bubbles.

I can relate to the freeze butt/roast face aspect of a good fire on a cold night. It actually got down to 57 last night.

the dharma bum said...

floridacracker- i like the gold kind with bubbles too. :) 57 degrees though? cold? i'll allow "chilly" just because you're below the mason-dixon line, but not "cold." :)

jim, summit epa is a tasty beer, probably made moreso simply because it's brewed a few miles from my house. we'll have to knock back a couple sometime while listening to deb play...

Deb said...

Floridacracker, that's not even "cold" enough to keep your gold bubbly stuff cold on the porch overnight! :)