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A Beer to Savor – Schell’s

A Beer to Savor – Schell’s
Schell's has been making great beer since 1860!

Schell’s has been making great beer since 1860!

Nestled in the rolling wooded hills of central Minnesota is the bucolic Germanic themed enclave of New Ulm MN. It is a beautiful town with all the small-town trappings you would expect. A hometown café and sportsbar sit in juxtaposition with the ever-present mall mentality that has overtaken America. However New Ulm has one treasure that cannot be found anywhere else in the world—The world Famous Schell’s Brewing Company.

Schell’s is in its7th generation of having the same family working and creating great beers from their beautiful, well groomed gardener’s paradise of a brewery. On a trip to the rustic brewery I was entranced by the old fashioned buildings and the great little museum showing all the history of the family thru the years. A walk thru the gardens evoked a time past where you could enjoy the finer things in life such as good conversation, amazing scenery, and even the occasional Peacock strolling in front of your path! However the absolute highlight of any trip to the brewery is the Beer!

Schell’s has been making beers for over a hundred years. It has survived world wars, temperance movements, prohibition, great depressions, and even changing beer preferences! They have had an explosion of new beers and creative ideas in the past few years. They have continued making their standard Deer Brand lager, while expanding their roster of beers with a huge variety of yearlong staples and great seasonal offerings, along with a new initiative to create one of kind offerings where they stretch the imagination of their brew makers and consumers alike!

They have developed the Stag series of beers and the Noble Star series of beers. These are limited release and hard to find innovative, yet nostalgic beers that are one of a kind treat fro your taste buds.

Stag Series is an innovative series of beers released throughout the year. Their latest is the #8. The Stag #8 is a blonde dopplebock made in collaboration with a German based brewery. Both breweries are family owned and have over 570 years combined experience. Using a wide variety of hops, this unique beer has full flavor but is very drinkable!

The Noble star series are Berlin style wheat beers. They are aged in rare cypress tanks that Schell’s bought in 1936. These tanks are a one of a kind tool to create beers that simply can never be recreated! They are all bottle conditioned, hand labeled and hand filled. Truly a connoisseur’s beer! Their latest release is the North Country Brunette. It has a spicy complex flavor that can only come from the unique cypress aging tanks. It is tart and dry with a slightly fruity flavor.

All Stag series and Noble Star beers are limited and hard to find! If you find one, snatch it up because you will probably never see it again!

The everyday beers of Schell’s should not be forgotten. They have a great sampler pack that allows you to try 3 of their staple offerings while also offering a rotating seasonal beer that fits the climate and desires of Minnesota and the world.

My Favorite is the Firebrick. It is a Vienna style lager with a reddish hue. It has a nice malty flavor with a touch of hops to give it the bitterness you need in a good beer! Also don’t forget the Schell’s Dark. A great everyday dark beer that fits every occasion!

Coming soon is my favorite seasonal beer. Oktoberfest. A perfect blend of malts and hops, Crimson to deep brown in color, Oktoberfest beer is a great item and the history behind the recipe is a story of the ages. In September I will retell the epic tale of Love and celebration that spawned Oktoberfest beer and its traditions. Schell’s makes one of the best Oktoberfest beers and should never be missed!

As the locavore movement gains momentum, we need to remember to drink locally too! Schell’s is a Minnesota treasure that should never be forgotten! And if your travels take you to central Minnesota, you have to stop and visit—it is well worth the trip!

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Posted by on August 4, 2014 in beer, beverages, lifestyle, Uncategorized


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Beers Answer For Summertime

For quite a while now, the craft beer scene has been dominated by strong, mega hoppy beers along with oak aged, high alcohol barley wines. With summer finally here, it is time to switch gears. We need a refreshing style that is crisp, has a bit of fruit notes and light. A beer that can truly cool us off on those humid days as well as pair with the lighter foods we tend to eat in the summertime. We need a beer that can do all of this yet still have some actual flavor! What is a beer connoisseur to do? A simple answer to the question is drink wheat beers.

hefecompWheat beer is just what it sounds like, a beer that is brewed with a large proportion of wheat relative to the amount of malted barley found in typical beers. The tastes of this style can vary depending on the style of wheat beer made. The main styles are Weiss bier and wit bier. There are also sour styles, the most popular of which is Lambic – usually flavored with fruit.

The two most common varieties of wheat beer are wit bier or white beer. It gets this name due to yeast and wheat still left in the beer that gives it a hazy or white appearance when cold. These typically follow the Belgian tradition of using additives such as coriander and orange peel. This is a tradition carried over from medieval beers which did not use hops, but used spices and plants as flavoring and preservatives. These beers are typically made with raw unmalted wheat as opposed to malted wheat used more often in other styles. These beers are typically very light in hops making these easy drinking and refreshing. In the past, these beers were somewhat sour, but modern styles are far less sour and feature more of the grain and fruit tastes. Great examples of this style are Alaskan White, Unibroue Blanche de Chambly and Leinenkugel’s Sunset Wheat.

The other common variety of wheat beer is Weiss bier or simply Weiss. Hefeweizen also falls into this classification. Hefe is German for yeast so Hefeweizen beers are typically unfiltered and possess a cloudy appearance. Filtered beers are called Kristallweizen. This are clean and crisp and don’t have as much of the wheat and fruit flavors. By German law these beers must be top-fermented and they use specialized strains of yeast that produce notes of banana and a touch of clove during the brewing process. You can even get flavors such as bubble gum and vanilla, especially in Hefe’s. Hefe’s are also especially light on the hops and have a more carbonated style which makes this a near perfect beer for the steamy months. Great examples of these are Erdinger, Weihenstephan and Paulaner. Also if you are looking for stronger darker styles, don’t forget bock beer. Typically found in the spring. Celebrator Bock is a great example.

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Posted by on June 18, 2014 in Uncategorized


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The Beautifully Underrated Bourgueil


I have long maintained that the single most underrated region in the wine world is the Loire Valley. There are scores of unique wineries, growers, and grape varietals to be found here. This small area can lead us to discuss a whole myriad of wines. Today we will review a region in the heart of the Loire called Bourgueil.

The wines from this region are almost exclusively made from Cabernet Franc. Cabernet Franc, underrated in its own right, is a wonderful red grape full of character and vibrancy. Lighter than Cabernet Sauvignon, the wine tends to be a bright pale red wine with finesse and a touch of pepper on the nose. Along with pepper, well made wines can also include aromas of cassis, violets, tobacco, raspberry and maybe even cedar. The complexity of these wines along with well balanced acid and judicious oak make my mouth water!

Bourgueil soils contain a lot of gravel and sand along with some limestone. This combination allows the vines to have excellent drainage without the soil being too rich. The vines have to fight to survive, therefore the roots go deep and extract every ounce of love from the soil. This creates wines that are floral, fruity and complex and with age that can have a wonderful earthy element.  If you like a more up front, fruity style, you can drink these young, if complex earthy and leathery notes are your thing, age the wine for 10-20 years in a cool, dark place and you will be amazed at the complexity and melding of earth and fruit in the glass.  Pair reds from this area with pork tenderloin or grilled chicken. Bourgueil wines are also the ultimate burger wine!

Harder to find, but also beautiful are rose’s from this region. Only 5% of total production, these wines are fresh, vibrant yet still have the signature violet and peppery notes.

ImageAn awesome example of Bourgueil that won’t break the bank is Domaines des Ouches Bourgueil Igoranda.($20) Made by the Gambier brothers who represent the 8th generation of Gambiers making wine in Bourgueil! Over time, they have learned to master the region pulling grapes from various spots on the vineyard in order to make different styles. The Igoranda is elegant with cassis, tobacco combined with a flowery aroma of bing cherries and black raspberries. This wine is composed of fruit from the hillside. The Gambiers have noticed this plot takes longer to ripen, giving the wine more acid and complex fruit. While riskier and more expensive to produce, the results are beautiful!

Be daring and don’t ignore this unknown region. If you are a red wine fan, I think you will be surprised. While hard to find, it is worth the search!

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Posted by on May 30, 2014 in Uncategorized


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The Ever Changing World of IPA

IPA or India Pale Ale is a hoppy beer style that is part of the broader style pale ale. IPA is first known to be brewed in England in the 19th century, although the first time someone called it an IPA is in an advertisement in the Sydney Gazette in Australia. The term pale ale refers to an ale that is brewed from pale malt. This was obtained by breweries using fuel fired malt that produces less smoking and roasting of the barley. In the early 1800’s the beers were quite different than what they are today. They were much more lightly hopped than what we see today.  

Spiegelau IPA Glass

Spiegelau IPA Glass – Specially made to enhance the flavors and aromas of IPA.

IPA taste, which some say is an acquired one, consists of wonderful fruit, citrus and floral notes. While bitter for some, IPA offers a complexity that few beers can match. IPA popularity in the U.S. has been exploding! This has led to breweries experimenting and producing several styles of IPA to appease the growing demand coming from the “hopheads” of America.

Some different styles are East Coast IPA, West Coast IPA and Double IPA’s. East Coast IPA’s typically have a stronger malt presence that balances out the hoppiness of the beer. Also, because of logistics, East Coast IPA’s tend to use more European hops which results in a spicier style. Great examples of East Coast IPA are Brooklyn East IPA and Victory Hop Devil.

West Coast IPA’s typically have a much stronger hops flavor up front and use nearby hops grown in the Pacific Northwest such as Chinook, Cascade and Simcoe. Not as well balanced, but not intended to be. It is all about featuring the beauty of American hops and deemphasizing caramel and sweet notes. The name originated because San Diego breweries were the first to champion this style. Now West Coast IPA’s are now brewed all over the country. Excellent examples of West Coast IPA are Green Flash West Coast IPA, Lagunitas IPA, and Ballast Point Sculpin IPA.

For people who can’t get enough of the bitter, citrusy flavors of hops, Double IPA or Imperial IPA has emerged onto the American market. Typically, these beers are a stronger and hoppier version of traditional IPA’s. Usually the alcohol is above 7.5%. This is needed in order to supply enough malt to help balance out the extreme hops. Examples of this style are Bells’ Hopslam, Surly Abrasive Ale, and Great Divide Hercules Double IPA.

American brewers, ever innovating, have even started making an IPL (India Pale Lager) Strong hops that is fermented like a lager make this a lighter, cleaner style that is intended to show off the subtleties and complexity of the hops. Sam Adams Double Agent IPL is a great example.

With the massive proliferation of IPA in the U.S. and breweries that are always pushing the envelope, the lines between different styles are getting blurred. If the beer you are drinking is getting blah, an IPA of any style may be that beer you need to invigorate your senses.

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Posted by on April 30, 2014 in Uncategorized


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Meet 2 of the Speakers for our High End Tasting!

Our Apollo High End Tasting is nearly here!  If you haven’t got your ticket yet, you better soon. The event is April 24th at 6:30.  Tickets available at any Apollo store or at 

This will be a great event.  For $25 you get four courses of heavy appetizers, and enjoy 4 different wine gurus present a flight of wines.  Each Speaker will pour from a particular country.  This is the chance to truly compare great wines from each of the great winemaking countries.

To pique your interest, here is a brief bio of 2 of our speakers.

Tom Gill, The French Wine Speaker,

A former teacher, Mr. Gill found his true calling in the early 1970s, when good fortune placed him in Napa Valley during the Golden State’s wine renaissance. There he tasted the debut vintages of Caymus, Joseph Phelps, and — especially — Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars, whose now- legendary 1973 Cabernet he discovered, in barrel, and imported to Minnesota. Within a year, that now-legendary wine — subject of the Hollywood film “Bottle Shock” — would come to symbolize the ascendance of California wine to the world stage when it out-scored an international field of competitors to win the Judgement of Paris…And to think that the residents of Rochester enjoyed an out-sized percentage of that coveted collector’s item!

               In the years since, Mr. Gill has contributed to virtually every facet of our profession — including retail and shop design — and has written over 200 wine articles while employed as a columnist for the StarTribune, MPLS/ST. PAUL magazine, and Minnesota Monthly, among others. Since 1998 he has been engaged as an importer and distributor, representing family wineries from every corner of the globe, including

— of course — France.


Peter Plaehn, Italian Wine Speaker

Peter Plaehn, CSW, is a 19-year veteran of the food and beverage industry, getting his start in the kitchen of a college bar. Since then he’s held almost every position possible, from host to bartender to finally General Manager and Wine Director at an award-winning fine dining restaurant. He is one of only fourteen Certified Sommeliers in Minnesota certified with the Court of Master Sommeliers and is the only CMS Advanced Sommelier candidate in Minnesota. He is also a Certified Specialist of Wine with the Society of Wine Educators.

He is currently the Wine Specialist for Wirtz Beverage Group, based in St. Paul.

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Posted by on April 23, 2014 in Uncategorized


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Posted by on April 10, 2014 in Uncategorized


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Great Value!! Greystone Wines

ImageGreystone Winery – The Perfect Wine/Food Pairing

Who doesn’t want a quality, well balanced wine to pair with a wonderful meal served up by a great chef?  This wouldn’t be possible without two things, 1) A talented winemaker making quality wines and 2) a competent well trained chef.   There is a winery out there that is doing its best to make sure we have those two components for years to come.

Greystone refers to the Culinary Institute of America located in Napa Valley.  The institute is now housed in a magnificent building in the heart of Napa Valley that was built as Greystone Winery in 1889.  This building also housed Christian Brothers winery from 1950-1990 after which the CIA bought the building.  Now a famous neighbor has revived the Greystone wine label.  Markham Winery has bottled a small amount of wine since 1995 to be used exclusively by the Institute.  Now they have released the wine nationally.  They strive to bring the highest-quality California wines at the best possible value to a larger audience. Greystone wines are approachable, easy to drink, and befitting their connection to the CIA, enhance the culinary experience of any meal at which they are served.

Available in four styles at Apollo Liquor for about $12.

  1.  Cabernet – Aromas of vanilla and cream soda.  In the mouth it is dark and mysterious at the start; a quick swirl brings this wine alive with blackberry, vanilla, and jam aromas.  Lush and juicy on the palate and loaded with sweet berry fruit.
  2. Chardonnay – Aromas of freshly cut apples that are layered with roasted nuts and stone fruit.  In the mouth there are bright citrus flavors that give way to richer butterscotch and guava notes.
  3. Merlot – Black cherry and chocolate aromas are layered with vanilla, briars and smoke.  On the palate it has a fleshy texture that is harmonious with plum and raspberry flavors.
  4. Sauvignon Blanc – Beautiful aromas of pear and citrus with bright acidity in the mouth.  The acid is balanced with flavors of Meyer lemon and a hint of white peach.
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Posted by on March 21, 2014 in Uncategorized


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