Our three sons are individually unique and, at the same time, very much alike.
James, the eldest, is five years older than Christian and 10 years older than Alexander. Although they would argue this point, their personalities very much mirror their parents' personalities. And, although they are separated by years and many interests, they are brothers who share a common bond, and that bond is heavy metal music.
I have one brother - Dave. He is 13 years younger than I, and we grew up in different worlds. His interests are much different than mine and growing up he was just my younger brother. Our differences remain to this day, and that is fine. It is in our differences that we find opportunities for growth, and he always challenges and enriches me. Even when our sons were separated by colleges and miles, they always found a way to continue their passion for heavy metal music. Eventually, they formed a band named Preacher Row. For a period of time, the band played at various venues in the Twin Cities, and the boys found great satisfaction in this activity. Did they always agree? No! Yet their passionate common interest united them.
Today it is more difficult for Preacher Row to play together. Christian is in Rhode Island, and James and Alex live in Minneapolis. However, through the wonder of technology, they continue to write and play music with each other. I guess passion cannot be contained by distance, and their music, which is driven by its pulsing drum beat, active guitar licks and meaningful lyrics unites them. Different but the same, expressing their personalities through a common passion.
Another trio of southwest Minnesota brothers is expressing their passion and personalities in a different and thankfully for us, a very tasty way. A couple of weeks ago, it was my pleasure to sit down and chat with Dustin Brau in the Marshall Brau Brothers taproom. For over an hour we had a very pleasurable discussion about brewing and what it means to him. He told me a bit of their story - who they are (how his two brothers and other family members are at his side at the brewery), where the brewing idea came from (it was something we got interested in and wanted to do), the challenges (starting a new business in a small town, expanding the business and finding local ingredients), the rewards (providing an honest and great tasting beer) and his vision for the future (becoming a beer icon in this region of the state). Naturally, we got thirsty from talking so much, and we had to dampen our thirsts with a Brau beer. What did you think we would drink in a brewery? It's a tough job, but someone has to do it!
During our time together I could see Dustin's eyes light up when he talked about the brewing business. His passion for the business was palpable and obvious. The hour went by too quickly, and it was time for me to leave. We lifted our glasses to each other in a salute, drained them, and I left the taproom. I walked out of the building believing something special is being done there and in wonder of his commitment to bring something special to our region of the state - craft beers that define this region through their ingredients and local family roots.
If you haven't been to the Brau Brothers taproom, I would heartily recommend a visit. Grab some friends and walk into a room dominated by "good old Fire Engine #56," a very comfortable seating arrangement and a marvelous view of the brewery. Sit down with your friends, order a brew, some food if you like, and talk with each other. Bringing people together to talk and to enjoy themselves in an interesting setting is a driving force at Brau Brothers. Take some time to relax and choose your favorite beer from the beer menu. One of their most popular beers is Moo Joos - a blend of a milk stout and a traditional oatmeal stout. If you enjoy the taste of coffee and dark chocolate with a bit sweetness, this beer will certainly please you. Since I like a beer with a more bitter hop flavor, it is the Sheephead Ale for me. Whatever your taste in beer, Brau Brothers can satisfy your taste buds.
I can't end this article without talking a bit about wine. I like the wines being produced in Washington state. One of the really enjoyable wines I had the pleasure to taste recently is Thorny Rose Chardonnay from the Columbia Valley and its first taste is classic Chardonnay. Look for the buttery taste (a kind of creamy taste in your mouth) at the front end and enjoy the apple taste at the finish. Served at about 50 degrees, it is a very easy wine to drink with any food or by itself.
Next week I'll tell you the story of a local winery that was a treat for me to visit it's all about family.
As always, eat and drink responsibly but laugh with reckless abandon.