Sunday, June 29, 2008

Viking/Biking Brewery Tour

This weekend, Adam, Kyle and I packed up our camping gear and bikes and drove to Chetek, Wisconsin with the express purpose of a.) biking and b.) visiting the Viking Brewery in Dallas. We achieved half of that goal. The tour was at 1:00, and we managed to get lost enough on the way to Chetek that biking from Chetek to Dallas in the alloted time was in doubt, and the tour was the heart of our trip (and it looked like rain), so we went in search of the Lured In Lodge Campground instead. We'd been trying to reach them during the week, but with no success. They don't really check their phone. But I guess you can leave a message stating, "We want to camp on the point, unless there are problems" and that's a sufficient reservation. They had hot showers (for a few quarters), a beautiful spot to camp sort of sticking out into the lake, and an on site bar that kept Kyle and Adam occupied until past 3:00 a.m. in the morning while Adam karaoked motown classics and tried to start a fight over the Green Bay Packers. The smoke drove me out by 1:00 a.m. after a rousing game of Life On the Farm (much like real farming, you just keep hemorrhaging money), but that left me designated-driver capable in the morning, so it was a good thing.

The Viking Brewery tour was exceptional. Usually, on a beer tour, you get an equipment and facilities tour, and then a few beers at the end. The owner at Viking took us on that tour, and then gave us an extended tour of the individual beers. 16 2 ounce servings later, he'd explained to us about why they'd picked certain beers, which ingredients they used (free trade cocoa in their hot chocolate Viking with cayenne, local basswood honey), the history of the beer type, and the tricks and water chemistry that gave the beers their distinctive flavors and how they differed from the norm for that beer classification. Even the equipment portion of the tour was great. He explained why they had an ancient labeling machine (they use foils, and the old machines have foil attachments, whereas new machines that will foil cost $80,000), and the history of their bottler. And in Wisconsin you can buy beer on site. They simply walk you into the cooler and give you a choice of four packs of almost all 21 varieties they brew at a price significantly reduced from what I pay down at Blue Max (it was $5 for a four pack, or six four-packs for $25, and they come out of the freezer ice cold).

Here's Adam out front of the brewery. The folks on the stairs are the Minneapolis Hash House Harriers. Harriers are a running group where (and I may get this wrong, but you can correct me if you like) someone is the "rabbit" and runs out ahead, leaving behind some sort of trail. When everyone catches up, it's a place where there's alcohol. In this case, the Viking Brewery. Then the rabbit takes off, and everyone runs after the rabbit again, until they catch up at a location with more beer. As Adam noted, given the amount of lap sitting, t-shirts like (on a man) "future trophy wife", and general loudness, it seemed to be an oversexed, alcohol-infused running group. Which is sort of obvious if you float over their member names. I believe that's Jizzmopper in the black t-shirt, and Manwich is somewhere in the crowd, as she was yelling at Kyle that she'd warned him the bathroom smelled bad.

The Viking Brewery cars. You have to zoom in to appreciate their license plates.

Adam posing next to the brewery sign. This is an old building and apparently cold most of the year, so they do a lot of cold brewing, and then quit when the temperature warms up. They even cold brew their ales, so they have a six week cycle on all their beer. The other owner (the tour guide's wife) told us that part of the reason for the hot chocolate cayenne beer is that in the winter it gets so cold that she goes into the beer freezer to warm up.

It's also interesting that they use soft water (because that's what they have in Dallas) in a lot of their beer, even the traditional hard water beers, giving some of them a very smooth taste (you can overhop a soft water beer and it won't taste as sharp).

A picture of the loaded Focus. The bikes never came off. They were rained on shortly before this picture. They were poured on when we were in Chetek at the B and B Bar and Grill, where we saw Mike the owner, who has pictures of himself all over the walls of himself with lots of nice bikes (motorcycles) and curvy women in tight dresses who like bikes. Kyle and I had the Yuk Burgers at the B and B: hamburger, bacon and peanut butter. We agreed it needed more peanunt butter, and Kyle's assertion that carmelized onions might make it extra tasty is spot on. We may have also seen Bob of Bob's Grill at breakfast, although we didn't validate that - Bob's has been around a long time.

Our campsite. The Point at Lured In Lodge. There was a very pleasant wind which didn't keep all the mosquitoes away, but kept them sparse. While we were on the brewery tour they cleared off the picnic table and moved it out there for us. That's some good service.

The Lured In Lodge where there was much drinking and karaoke. There was a couple having their anniversary at the bar, and just an amazing amount of drinking going on. Despite having sung the song before, Adam can't remember the words to "Burning Ring of Fire" when the prompter is out of sync. Adam: "I fell in to a burning ring of fire, I went down, down, down, and the flames went higher. And it burns, burns, burns, the ring of fire. The ring of fire." Kyle said I missed Adam responding to the local barfly's assertion that she was 38 with an introspective on gray hair that drove her away within seconds. I didn't miss him stepping on me at 3:30 when they came back to the tent. My ankle hurt enough today that I used the cruise.

Adam, laughing at something. I bought a new cooler to haul up beer with us, like 36 beers we picked up at Blue Max (where we ran into a few corporate VPs who were, among other things, buying a bottle of alcohol for my current boss because one of them took my manager away from her). And those little plastic cups are Scotch glasses for Glenlivet 12 (that we never opened). And the white box is 24 more bottles from Viking Brewery. And there was a bar on site. I point this out so that Ming will know that he didn't miss much, as he prefers biking to drinking. And so that Dan knows he should go with us next time, because the biking definitely took a back seat.

I do think I'll need to dry out. Between the weekend and seeing Erik play at the Hexagon Bar on Thursday night, I'm probably close to bleeding beer.

This wasn't done on purpose. It seemed amusing to have the beer lined up so neatly.

The Leine's sign at Lured In Lodge in the morning.

The leaning silo of Chetek. Kyle thought we should do the fake pushing it back up thing that all the Pisa tourists seem to do. Just down the road was another silo that had the top sheared off and a great big platform attached for picnic tables, lawn chairs, etc. The owner had wrapped a staircase around the silo as well so he could walk up there.

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