Tag Archives: beer

Obviously Omaha

April 27, 2017 by
Photography by Contributed

Food and drink are an important part of summertime festivals and cultural events. Celebrations across Omaha’s diverse communities ensure a wide selection of new and interesting things to try. Here are a few options to explore.

Dancers at Omaha’s beloved South Omaha festival

Cinco de Mayo
May 5-7
South 24th Street, from D to L streets

Cinco de Mayo celebrates Mexico’s victory at the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1962, during the Franco-Mexican War. But in the United States, the holiday has become a general celebration of Mexican culture. Chalupas—small tortillas lightly fried and topped with salsa, onion, and shredded chicken or beef—are a common dish in Puebla. During the festivities in South Omaha, there will also be plenty of tacos, tortas, and other treats (Mexican ice cream, horchata, and specialty drinks). 
cincodemayoomaha.com

Taste of Omaha provides food choices for everyone.

Taste of Omaha
June 2-4
Heartland of America Park and Lewis & Clark Landing

Taste of Omaha is a must-try on the city’s culinary calendar. The three-day food and entertainment extravaganza celebrates its 20th anniversary in 2017. Taste’s smorgasbord gives people a chance to try foods from India, various parts of Africa, Japan, Mexico, and elsewhere, along with several local farm-to-fork options. Taste of Omaha’s signature alcoholic drink, “River Breeze,” is made from coconut-flavored vodka mixed with cranberry and pineapple juices.
showofficeonline.com/TasteHome

Cool off on a hot summer’s night with Italian gelato

Santa Lucia Festival
June 8-11
Lewis & Clark Landing

Founded in 1925 by Grazia Bonafede Caniglia, this festival emulates the traditions of the Santa Lucia Festival in Carlentini, Sicily. Italian food is one of the festival’s highlights. Favorites include sausage or meatball sandwiches and Sicilian-style pizza by the Pizza Boys of Santa Lucia. Pasta lovers can carb-load on fried ravioli, mostaccioli, and much more.
santaluciafestival.com

Shaved ice is a favorite among kids at Omaha Summer Arts Festival

Omaha Summer Arts Festival
June 9-11
Farnam Street, 10th to 15th streets

Gator on a stick, anyone? In addition to traditional festival favorites—cotton candy, funnel cakes, and fresh-squeezed lemonade—the Summer Arts Festival also boasts seafood dishes, noodle bowls, and other foods to satisfy artistically inspired hunger. Snow cones help kids cool down, while adults can enjoy watermelon/grapefruit shandy, vanilla cream ale, black cherry hard soda, or a hard sparkling water.
summerarts.org

Take us out to the ball games, where you can chow down on traditional favorites as well as unique eats.

College World Series
June 16-27/28
TD Ameritrade Park

Each year brings new treats to Omaha’s favorite baseball event. Last year’s lineup of concession offerings at CWS included foot-long taquitos for $18; “mangia fries,” french fries coated in Italian seasoning and topped with cheese sauce, pepperoni, banana peppers, and diced tomatoes; and the “Reuben sausage,” a tubular version of Omaha’s favorite deli meat topped with sauerkraut and dressing served in a pumpernickel bun. Starting in 2016, the NCAA allowed beer and wine sales at the event. Cheers!
cwsomaha.com

Pack a picnic and come to the green for theatrics, and theater.

Shakespeare on the Green
June 22-July 9 (weekends)
Elmwood Park

Nebraska Shakespeare is putting on dinner and a show with its annual Shakespeare on the Green. Several local food trucks will dish up their fare at this free event. In true Shakespeare fashion, pizza vendors will have a variety of cleverly named dishes relating to the night’s performance. This event allows spectators to pack their own picnics, including beer or wine if desired.
nebraskashakespeare.com

This article appears in the May/June 2017 edition of Omaha Magazine.

Lenten Fish Fries

March 16, 2017 by
Photography by Joshua Foo

Lent in Omaha—a time of repentance and moderation for devout Catholics—is synonymous with crowded lines of happy, drunken people waiting for heaping piles of deep-fried fish.

Parishioners and non-churchgoers alike rejoice with the approach of Ash Wednesday. Non-Catholics who have never joined in the fun should not hesitate. All are welcome. Lenten fish fries (complete with raffles, pickle cards, and bake sales) are the biggest fundraising event of the year for many Catholic churches, schools, and charities in Omaha.

The beer-infused Friday fry-day gatherings are a popular annual ritual in Midwestern cities with robust Catholic communities. Omaha’s large Catholic population means that several dozen churches will host fish fries throughout the 40 days of Lenten fast (six weeks). Meanwhile, there are plenty of other community groups, such as the local Disabled American Veterans, hosting their own Lenten fish fries.

Some start the Friday before Ash Wednesday. Most begin after Ash Wednesday formally initiates the Lenten season. Some conclude after only a few weeks; others continue for the entire duration of the Lenten fast, including Good Friday two days before Easter.

Not all of them are bacchanals, with children running wild while parents and young adults socialize. A few are alcohol-free. But all are genuine family-friendly celebrations of community.

Expect to spend a few hours standing and waiting in line at Omaha’s most-popular fish fries. The long wait—and the chance to meet new friends while drinking beer—is sometimes the most fun part of the evening.

Omaha Magazine has compiled a list of six must-try fish fries for every week during Lent. But the list is hardly exhaustive. Other excellent fish fries are plentiful in the Omaha area. For those in a hurry, seeking out lesser-known gatherings might even save on the wait time. Or you might just discover a new Lenten favorite.

HOLY NAME CATHOLIC CHURCH (2017 Best of Omaha Winner)

2901 Fontenelle Blvd., Omaha, NE 68104 . 402.451.6622 . holynameomaha.org

Omaha’s oldest Lenten fish fry event, the Holy Name “Fryday” is famous for its jam-packed line, fried Alaskan pollock, french fries, coleslaw, and Rotella’s bread. The BYOB line makes the event especially unique for the 21-and-over crowd. Those arriving at 6 p.m. can expect to find a line stretching out the church, through the adjacent Holy Name Elementary School, and circling around the building. A wait time of three hours is not unusual. The initiated come prepared with coolers full of beer to sustain drinking through the long wait. Upon entering the main building, a free cup of beer is offered. Another free cup of beer is offered if there’s a line out the cafeteria. More beer is sold inside the cafeteria, and a storeroom accommodates winter coats and coolers. Nebraska politicians are known to make appearances at the event, which averages an attendance of 2,300 people per night. Fridays (5-8 p.m.), February 24 (pre-Lenten) to April 7

MARY OUR QUEEN CATHOLIC CHURCH (2017 Best of Omaha Winner)

3405 S. 118th St., Omaha, NE 68144 . 402.333.8662 . maryourqueenchurch.com

A packed line meanders through the halls of Mary Our Queen School, where intermittent refreshment tables allow visitors to replenish their beer pitchers/cups in one of Omaha’s most-popular Lenten fish fries. Young volunteers walk up and down the school’s hallway to collect emptied pitchers. Popcorn is available in the line near the cafeteria. A drive-through allows motorists to avoid the packed halls. Food options include: fried or baked fish, macaroni and cheese, spudsters, fries, coleslaw, bread, with assorted soft drinks and desserts also available for sale. Fridays (5-8 p.m.), March 3 to April 7

ST. PATRICK’S CHURCH OF ELKHORN (2017 Best of Omaha Winner)

20500 West Maple Road, Elkhorn, NE 68022 . 402.289.4289 . stpatselkhorn.org

The fish fry at St. Patrick’s features fried or baked catfish and/or pollock. Margaritas and a variety of beers offer a change of pace from the adult beverages typically available at area fish fries. Cheese pizza, fries, coleslaw, macaroni and cheese, and dessert round out the available food options. There’s a drive-through, and there are clowns and face-painting for the kids inside. Fridays (5-9:30 p.m.), March 3 to April 7

ST. VINCENT DE PAUL CATHOLIC CHURCH

14330 Eagle Run Drive, Omaha, NE 68164 . 402.496.7988 . svdpomaha.org

A cheerful and welcoming atmosphere radiates from the jam-packed line snaking through the halls of St. Vincent de Paul Catholic School. The event features $3 cups, $8 bottles of wine, and $8 pitchers of Boulevard, Lucky Bucket, or Bud Light beer. For those seeking better quality beer on the cheap, St. Vincent de Paul’s fish fry is an excellent choice. Food options include fried or baked fish, cheese pizza, macaroni and cheese, coleslaw, and fries or baked potato, with assorted soft drinks and desserts also available for sale. Credit cards accepted. Fridays (5:30-8:30 p.m.), March 3 to April 7

ST. JOHN’S GREEK ORTHODOX CHURCH

602 Park Ave., Omaha, NE 68105 . 402.345.7103 . stjohnsgreekorthodox.org

Alcohol is not sold at the event; however, St. John’s offers possibly the most delicious food available at any Omaha area Lenten fish fry. The church also offers historic tours of its Byzantine-style building from 5:30-6:30 p.m. A kitchen full of volunteers (some of whom grew up in Greece and migrated to the United States) cook and serve plaki—a Greek baked cod with Mediterranean sauce. Also available: panko-fried cod, breaded-fried shrimp, baked salmon, and vegetable moussaka (an eggplant lasagna), spanakopita (a pie filled with spinach and feta cheese), and piropita (cheese baked in phyllo dough). Specialty cheesecakes and baklava sundaes await at the dessert bar. Fridays (4:30 to 8 p.m.), March 3 to April 7

HOLY GHOST CATHOLIC CHURCH

5219 S. 53rd St., Omaha, NE 68117 . 402.731.3176 . holyghostomaha.com

Clam chowder is one of the unique offerings at Holy Ghost Parish’s annual Lenten fish fry. The varied menu offers: shrimp, baked or fried cod, macaroni and cheese, or a combo dinner. Each dinner comes with baked potato, salad, fruit bar, and a drink. Beer, margaritas, and “watermelons” (a mixed drink) are sold. While the line is long, the wait is neither the longest nor the most beer-soaked in town. Expedited takeout service is available at the west end of the church. Fridays (4-8 p.m.), February 24 (pre-Lenten) to April 7.

This article was printed in the March/April 2017 edition of Omaha Magazine.

Groovy Gravy

January 12, 2017 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

UPDATE (Jan. 12, 2017) : After the publication of the January/February issue of Encounter Magazine, Cask Republic announced that it would no longer sell poutine.

“We realize that the food aspect, especially the poutine, was not financially viable,” says Ryan Frickel, co-owner of Cask Republic. Snacks will soon be available, and the bar allows patrons to bring in food from several area restaurants.

* * * * *

Foodies generally regard the 1950s as the nadir of 20th century cuisine in North America. It brought us TV dinners, jello salads, and tuna casseroles. However, it also brought us a Canadian dish that, depending on your disposition, is either a trinity of salty, starchy, fatty goodness, or a cardiologist’s dream for stirring up new business (in truth, it’s probably both).

Poutine is, essentially, french fries topped with gravy and cheese curds. Like the Reuben sandwich, there’s been a few claims to its origin, but the general consensus is that it came from rural Quebec in the late 1950s. It’s a prominent staple for restaurants downtown (Block 16) as well as Benson (1912, Benson Brewery). For the Cask Republic bar in Dundee, it’s their primary focus.

Co-owners Ryan Frickel and Craig Lundin opened Cask Republic this past summer in the former home of the popular French Bulldog restaurant. Frickel came to the decision to focus on poutine after eating it in Benson last year. Frickel says there have been poutine-focused eateries sprouting up on the West and East coasts for the past few years. Frickel wanted to be the first in Nebraska to have such an eatery.

“Who doesn’t like meat and potatoes in Nebraska?” Frickel says.

poutine1For their version of poutine, the Cask Republic double-fries their french fries to get them crispy enough to withstand the heavy coating of gravy. Their beef gravy (they also have chicken and vegetarian variations) is a combination of homemade beef stock, spices, herbs like rosemary, and some chicken. Finally, their cheese curds, served at room temperature, top the dish. When you bite into one of the curds, it should sound faintly like a dog toy.

“If it’s not squeaky, then people in the poutine world get super pissed off,” Frickel says.

Like other greasy spoon staples such as hamburgers and hash browns, there have been plenty of high-end takes on poutine. 1912 has a variation that includes duck. Block 16’s gravy incorporates a red wine reduction. The Cask Republic has poutines that include burnt ends, and even “seasonal” poutines, including turkey for the holidays. Still, focusing your menu on dish that’s basically french fries and gravy is risky. Frickel, however, compares poutine to other dishes that are now commonplace around Omaha.

“[We] kind of likened it to sushi, where 20 years ago, people in Omaha either didn’t know what sushi was or never tried it. But on the coast, it was starting to explode,” Frickel says.

Of course, if you’re going to clog your arteries with starch, cheese, and gravy, you might as well go all out and wash it down with a brew. That’s where beer comes in at Cask Republic. Frickel and minority- owner Alex Gunhus are both beer enthusiasts; they traveled to breweries throughout the United States to come up with their beer menu. Frickel says he eventually wants to build his own brewery inside the Cask Republic.

“There’s nothing like that in the Dundee area, which blows my mind,” Frickel says. “We want to be the first to do that.”

Visit facebook.com/caskrepublic for more information.

Obviously Omaha

August 26, 2016 by and
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

As the air turns crisp, and leaves begin to fall, mugs of cold beer start flowing for Oktoberfest. Actually, those mugs of Oktoberfest beer will flow throughout September. The event began as a public wedding celebration for Germany royalty on Oct 12, 1810. Subsequent celebrations have traditionally begun on the third weekend of September and concluded on the first Sunday of October. In Omaha, however, you can find festivities all month.

1GerdasGerda’s German Restaurant and Bakery
5 p.m. to 1 a.m. Friday, Sept. 9;
4 p.m. to 1 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 10
5180 Leavenworth St.

One of Omaha’s largest Oktoberfests, this event has been going for more than 20 years. The celebration runs late into the night with music from the Dave Salmons Polka Band. Wash down a variety of German beers with Bavarian-style baked chicken, schweinshaxe (ham shank), or spaetzle, the German-style noodles made by the German-born Gerda herself. No admission.
gerdasgermanrestaurant.com

2LuckyBucketLucky Bucket Brewing Co.
6 p.m. to 11 p.m. Friday, Sept. 9
11941 Centennial Road, Suite 1

The beer is brewed on site. There are also sausages, pretzels, cocktails from Cut Spike Distillery (which shares a building with the brewery), and live music by Barry Boyce Band. Walk-in admission is $5 per person. Ticket bundles are selling on Groupon for $12 dollars (admission for two with two commemorative glasses) or $22 (admission for four with four glasses). Commemorative glasses do not come filled with beer.
luckybucketbrewing.com

3GermanAmericanSociety132nd German Day Celebration and Oktoberfest at the German-American Society
5 p.m. to midnight Friday, Sept. 16;
11:30 a.m. to midnight Saturday, Sept. 17
3717 S. 120th St.

The German-American Society of Omaha was founded in 1884 as the “Omaha Plattdeutscher Verein.” Ever since, the organization has held a Deutsche Tag, or German Day, every year. Deutsche Tag is now celebrated in conjunction with their Oktoberfest. This event for the whole family (not just the 21-and-up crowd) features games and face painting. The food menu features roast pig, schnitzel, and German potato salad. Admission is $5 each day for adults, which does not include beer or food. 402-333-6615
germanamericansociety.org

4HuberHausCrescentMoonCrescent Moon and Huber-Haus Oktoberfest
4 p.m. to 2 a.m. Friday, Sept. 23;
noon to 2 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 24
3578 Farnam St.

The Huber-Haus, adjoining the Crescent Moon, celebrates Oktoberfest for the 15th time this year. They serve Hofbrau, Spaten, Warsteiner, Paulaner, Hacker-Pschorr, and Weihenstephaner beers on tap along with plenty of favorite German foods. Admission is $5 for adults ages 12 and older and does not include food or beer.
beercornerusa.com/huber-haus

5BensonGardensBenson Oktoberfest
6 p.m. to 11 p.m. Friday, Sept. 30
1302 North 60th St.
The annual fundraiser for the Benson Community Garden gives new meaning to term “beer garden.” Grilled brats and live music—with performances by the Polka Police—will entertain the whole family. Children under the age of 18 must be accompanied by an adult. Admission is $5 per person.
bensongardens.org Omaha Magazine

Monkeying Around

July 6, 2016 by
Photography by Contributed by Douglas County HIstorical Society

You would think Omaha, safely ensconced in the Midwest, where no monkeys come from, wouldn’t have much of a monkey problem. But Omaha history is surprisingly full of problematic monkeys and apes—here are just a few:

Our first was a female baboon who appeared at the Creighton theater downtown in 1899. The ape was trained, and was part of an animal act by Professor Fred Macart. The baboon acted as a sort of animal stagehand, cleaning up after other acts.

But on this night, the baboon went wild, attacking a stage manager and then running rampant through the theater. The baboon then charged into an attached bar and stole a bottle of whiskey and two bottles of beer, drinking them and then flinging the bottles through mirrors. The whole ordeal ended when Macart calmed the animal, putting her to sleep with a towel around her head, as you would with anyone suffering from a hangover.

Then there was Diavolo, whom the World-Herald declared an “outlaw” in 1901. He had been a pet monkey to an organ grinder in Little Italy, but escaped and terrorized the neighborhood for several weeks. Diavolo bit a child, which monkeys will do once in a while, then attempted to steal money from the boy.

Diavolo made a habit of breaking into neighbors’ houses while they were sleeping and waking them by smashing their possessions against the ground. He became especially notorious for murdering the neighborhood’s canary birds. Neighbors eventually rallied to bring the monkey to justice—if need be, to execute him—and called on Officer Sam Riegelman, one of the city’s first bicycle cops, to find or kill the creature.

The newspaper never followed up on the story, so perhaps they are out there still, Riegelman on his bicycle, chasing the chattering figure of a tiny monkey through the Omaha nights.

We should also mention Monkey Island, which was a bit of design disaster, built in Elmwood Park in 1933. The plan was simple: The city would build a little island in the park, fill it with monkeys, and then put a fence around the monkeys. Unfortunately, they seem to have forgotten that monkeys can climb fences, and so the opening of Monkey Island was soon followed by a mass jailbreak. Monkeys were found miles away, and some were never recovered.

Finally, we come to the greatest escape artist in the history of apedom. His name was Fu Manchu, and he was an orangutan at the Henry Doorly Zoo in the late 1960s. Fu Manchu had a bizarre talent for escaping his enclosure, often accompanied by
other orangutans.

At first, this was chalked up to human error, as a connecting door from the enclosure to the furnace room was found opened. But it continued to happen, and nobody could be found who might be responsible for leaving the door open.

One day, the head keeper caught Fu Manchu headed down toward the door, and noticed he had a piece of wire in his mouth. The ape kept the wire hidden during the day and used it to pick the door lock when unobserved. Without his trusty lock pick, however, Fu Manchu was trapped, and so faded from the news, as all apes eventually do.

More recently, the Henry Doorly Zoo’s silverback gorilla—Kijito—made international headlines with his glass-pounding displays of dominance. In 2015, Kijito broke his enclosure’s safety glass. His antics went viral online after terrifying a visiting family.

Monkeys

Die Geschichte von Omaha Bier

September 16, 2015 by

Since 1587, when Virginia colonists first created ale using corn, beer has been a big part of American history.

The first known brewery in the New World opened in 1612 in New Amsterdam (now New York City). The Massachusetts Provincial Council mandated in 1775 that each soldier receive a daily quart of spruce beer (flavored with spruce tree needles) or cider during the Revolutionary War.

Omaha’s first hops-and-grains manufacturer, founded by Frederick Krug, came nearly two centuries later.

Krug trained as a brewer in his hometown of Niederzwehren, Germany, before leaving the country at age 19. He founded Fred Krug Brewery in 1859 at 26 years old. The original factory was in a small building near 10th and Farnam streets.

He moved his business in 1867 to a plant at 11th and Jackson streets and soon occupied the entire block. By 1880, Omaha had four large-scale beer makers: Storz, Willow Springs, Metz, and Krug, the largest of them all.

On October 17, 1894, Krug unveiled a new plant at 24th and Vinton streets. The new brewery employed approximately 500 men, many European immigrants like their boss.

A new century brought with it new opportunity—and new advances in…uh, medicine? Advertising in 1910 extolled Krug’s beer brands as “a tonic,” stating it “leaves no bad after effects.” Brand names included Cabinet, Fred Krug, and Luxus.

Krug’s capital gains helped them support an amateur baseball team, called The Luxus after the brew, which reached the 1915 National Amateur Baseball Tournament in Cleveland. The Omaha players lost 11-6 to home team the White Autos as a record-breaking crowd of more than 100,000 watched. That event is considered one of the highest-attended baseball games in history.

The loss symbolized things to come for Krug. The thirst-quencher known to cause startling behavior (and subsequent memory loss) gained political adversaries, who succeeded in getting the 18th Amendment passed. Prohibition hit the nation at midnight on Jan. 16, 1920, and pubs and breweries closed while speakeasies filled the void. The Krug plant reopened in 1933 following the repeal.

In 1936, the Falstaff Brewing Company of St. Louis acquired Krug and remodeled the plant that operated as one of the country’s best-equipped breweries before folding. They experienced a half-century of business before closing for good in 1987.

The new American at the helm of the company served on the board of directors of the German Savings Bank and of the State of Nebraska immigration board. He also owned Krug Park, an amusement park in Benson.

Krug and his wife, Anna, lived just south of downtown on 20th Street.

Krug’s brewery was a family affair. His sons, William, Fred H., Jacob, and Albert worked there. Frederick Krug and three of his sons are buried in Prospect Hill Cemetery, believed to be Omaha’s oldest.

Krug Brewery1

Prepare to Meet Our Makers

May 21, 2015 by

This article appears in the Spring 2015 edition of B2B

Remember these lyrics from the popular television show Cheers:

“Making your way in the world today takes everything you’ve got, taking a break from all your worries sure would help a lot. Wouldn’t you like to get away….”

The Omaha Convention and Visitors Bureau took a page out of the old Cheers songbook and created a marketing campaign based on the premise that everyone does like to get away and that a beer just might be an interesting incentive to convince some folks to get away to Omaha.

What helps is that over the last couple of years Omaha’s craft beer scene has really come of age, offering brews that are distinctly Omaha and worth the trip. Visitors can sample some of the best beers they’ll ever taste created by craftsman who have made beer their life and Omaha their home.

The Omaha CVB partnered with eight area craft breweries to offer the Omaha Craft Brew Explorer’s Journal. Since the goal is to attract out-of-town visitors to Omaha, anyone living outside the metro area can request the Journal, which includes coupons for a free beer at each of the participating breweries. The brewery will stamp the Journal and after visiting all locations visitors can stop by the Omaha Visitors Center and pick up a souvenir pint glass to commemorate their beer journey. To promote the campaign, the Omaha CVB purchased regional advertising—it was a short but sweet 12-week campaign that ended in October of 2014. However the requests keep coming and so do the visitors. As of the end of December, close to 4,000 people had requested the Journals, and many have emailed, tweeted, and Facebook’d to tell us how much they enjoyed their experience.

So just a quick thank you to Sam, Woody, Coach, Cliff, and (everybody say it with me) Norm! You were right. Cheers!

BeerGlass1

Hoplicious

November 4, 2014 by and
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

It is a good time to be alive if you are a craft beer lover. The state now boasts over 20 breweries, with more than half of those right here in the metro. Here’s my list of fave notables to try the next time you reach for a cold one.

Flagship IPA
Upstream Brewing Company
Loaded with hops, this India Pale Ale is a full-bodied, unfiltered ale with a gorgeous amber hue. A generous use of malt offers a mild sweetness to back the robust citrus, piney, hop flavor. Dry-hopping intensifies the wonderful aroma and complexity of this brew.
6.4% abv
Available at Upstream Brewing Company and select bars.

Cardinal Pale Ale
Nebraska Brewing Company
Copper in color with a lasting white head, this beer is the quintessential example of an American Pale Ale. It is hopped with copious amounts of Cascade for a wonderful grapefruit aroma and mellow bitterness.
6.0% abv
Available in cans at craft beer retailers.

Certified Evil
Lucky Bucket Brewing Co.
Dark and ominous, this imperial porter is aggressively hopped and full of roasted malts. Complex, dark fruit flavors of raisin and fig, along with molasses and honey, make this a wonderful addition to a steak dinner or chocolate dessert.
9.1% abv
Available in bottles at craft beer retailers.

Chocolate Pistachio Milk Porter
Infusion Brewing Company
Brewed with English Malt and a generous amount of cocoa powder, this beer begins with a round, full-bodied, chocolate flavor accompanied by notes of coffee and vanilla. With a sweet beginning and long cocoa finish, this porter is a wonderful dessert brew.
5.8% abv
Available on tap at Infusion Brewing Company and select bars.

Jalapeno Ale
Jaipur Brewing Company and Restaurant
A wheat beer base fermented with fresh jalapenos delivers a pleasant pepper aroma and flavor. This is the perfect accompaniment for the spicy Indian cuisine found at Jaipur.
Currently available only at Jaipur Brewing Company and Restaurant.

Brewer’s Duet – Coffee Cream Stout
Benson Brewery
Brewed in collaboration with neighbor Aroma’s Coffee Shop, this beer offers beautiful aromas of coffee and chocolate. Unlike some coffee stouts that can be astringent and bitter, this one is blended with high quality, cold-pressed coffee and brewed with added lactose milk sugar in lending a slightly sweet finish.
6.2% abv
Currently available only at Benson Brewery.

Keller German Lager
Farnam House Brewing Company
An unfiltered German-style amber lager, the cool fermentation temperature yields an extremely crisp and clean beer with a mild bitterness, perfectly balancing the caramel malt profile.  A wonderfully easy-drinking, sessionable beer that is perfect on any occasion.
5.5% abv
Currently available only at Farnam House Brewing Company.

Borgata Pilsner
Borgata
This is a crisp and clean lager with a thick white head. Subtle notes of honey, melon, and biscuit start on the nose and end with a mellow, bitter finish.
4.8% abv
Available in cans at craft beer retailers.

Nut Brown
Zipline Brewing (Lincoln)
Made with a blend of specialty dark malts, this English-Style Brown Ale is a harmonious blend of coffee, chocolate, and caramel flavors. A dark brown sugar sweetness later yields to a dry-roasted bitterness.
5.8% abv
Available in bottles at craft beer retailers and select bars.

Burning Skye Scottish Style Ale
Empyrean Brewing Co. (Lincoln)
Inspired by Scotland’s easy-drinking, malt-forward beers, this brew has a subtle caramel sweetness and a hint of smoke. It pairs wonderfully with grilled game or barbecue.
5.3% abv
Available in bottles at craft beer retailers and at Lazlo’s Brewery and Grill.

 

Chad Rozniecki is the Beer Specialist and Systems Implementation Manager at Brix Wine and Spirits. The professional brewer formerly owned The Lauter Tun craft beer bar in Omaha. Over the last decade he has also bartended at various craft beer bars and breweries around town.

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Winter Is Coming

December 2, 2013 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

The day after Christmas 2011 coincided with the eight-year anniversary of the day Matt and Kim Mixan first met. At the skating rink on 10th and Howard streets, a small group of their friends quietly encouraged Matt to go through with the afternoon’s plan: proposing to Kim. “It was something I’d been wanting to do for years,” he explains. “I’d always planned that spot, that day, that event, for three years in a row, and it never panned out.”

“At lunch, he was downing the margaritas,” Kim recalls. “I was like, what is going on?” The nerves didn’t go away. It took several laps around the crowded rink and Kim wanting to stop due to bruised ankles from the skates before Matt coaxed her to the center of the ice. With their friends surrounding them, he got down on one knee and said, “I couldn’t think of a better place to do this than on our eight-year anniversary with people who love us.” Laughing, Kim asked a couple times if he was serious, then answered, “Yeah, okay!”

Of course, it’s not strictly necessary to be prepared with that level of commitment before enjoying the ConAgra Foods Ice Skating Rink, and you don’t have to plan for three years. As of Sat., Dec. 14, all that’s really required is a five-dollar bill for admission and skates, because who has those? On the weekends, night owls and lovebirds alike can skate till midnight. Wear an elf hat and feel good about yourself, because 100 percent of proceeds go to Food Bank for the Heartland. The donations translated into 1.3 million meals last year, according to event manager Vic Gutman of Vic Gutman & Associates.

Still, the rink’s varying hours can get a little tricky to keep in mind. If you just want to soak up some holiday cheer already, Downtown’s Holiday Lights Festival is in full swing from Thanksgiving evening until about a week after the New Year. What that means in English is the trees along the Gene Leahy Mall are lit by more than a million fairy lights every night. As are six blocks of 24th Street in North Omaha. And six blocks of 24th Street in South Omaha. Soak up even more nostalgia and stop by the Mall around 7 p.m. on Saturdays. Choral groups, ranging from youth to professional, will regale passersby with holiday tunes for an hour.

But sometimes standing around admiring sparkling lights isn’t that appealing because, you know, winter. It’s cold. Get thee to Beer Corner USA on 36th and Farnam streets for Holiday Beerfest. This is a one-time deal on Sat., Dec. 7, and it’s from 1–5 p.m. (drinking in the afternoon? Psh, it’s the holidays. Also, good prep for long-planned proposals, apparently). The seasonal-brew-sampling fest has been going on for the past seven years, so get your tickets early ($22 in advance, $27 at the door) and drink your way through 100 or so winter brews and three separate bars: Crescent Moon, Huber-Haus, and Max and Joe’s. “Winter beers,” explains Michael Perdue, manager of the attached bottle shop, Beertopia, “are darker, use more roasted malt, and there might be some spice as well—cinnamon, cardamom. We’ll have a lot of porters, stouts, some strong English ales, too.”

What is beer without a little snack? The Old Market Candy Shop officially has its annual offering of pumpkin pie fudge. Owner Jeff Jorgensen promises that egg nog fudge is not far behind. Sometimes they have ribbon candy too, but don’t hold your breath. It may or may not be available when you go. Of course, right next door to the Candy Shop is Downtown’s permanent homage to Christmas, Tannenbaum Christmas Shop, also owned by Jorgensen.

Consider working off the chocolate with an amble along Farnam Street near 33rd. The shop windows at Midtown Crossing are decorated once again for Miracle on Farnam, a series of intricate holiday displays. More than 20 sponsors have designed these nostalgia-inducing, shadow-box-like tableaus. The windows housing animated pieces in particular call to mind postcards of old-fashioned toy shop windows decked out for the season.

It makes for quite a romantic stroll in the evening, by the way. No ice skates required. And let’s be real, you don’t want to be that guy who stole someone else’s proposal technique anyway.

Just Can It!

August 27, 2013 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Chances are, in recent visits to your local grocery store, liquor store, or pub, you may have noticed a change to some of your favorite products. Shelves once lined so perfectly with that beautiful bottled nectar we call beer have started to deviate from their normal lineup and now include a plethora of various containers—most notably, cans. From some of the largest breweries to the mom-and-pop brewpub down the street, cans are popping up everywhere. But why on earth would a brewery put their product, their labor of love, in a vessel so “low class,” so “cheap,” so…aluminum? The answer is simple—because it tastes better!

Through my years in the beer industry, I have witnessed that look of confusion, doubt, and utter disgust when a guest is informed that their favorite lager is not available in their preferred container.

“But we do have it in cans,” a staff member may explain.

“Uh…no, thank you. I’ll just have something else,” they state with a sense of superiority, visibly repulsed at the notion.

It’s no wonder that many consumers turn their noses up at the thought of drinking canned beer. For decades, most beers that could be found in cans were mass-produced, mass-marketed, often watered-down domestic beers. In the even more distant past, cans did not contain the proper inner lining to protect the beer. In fact, tin cans were the norm, and lead—yes, lead—was used in the seams of these cans. Thankfully, this is no longer the case.

Though I don’t often tip my hat to the macrobreweries of this country, some of the “big guys” figured out long ago that cans are far superior to bottles. Cans are more recyclable than their glass counterparts, they weigh less and therefore require less fuel to ship, and are typically more portable than bottles. (Go Green!) And while bottles are often not allowed at pools, parks, or concerts for fear of breakage, cans are generally more acceptable.

In addition, have you ever popped open a bottle, especially an import, and it tasted a bit like cardboard or wet paper? This is called oxidation. It occurs when oxygen comes in contact with finished beer. Bottles, especially those with twist-off caps, are more prone to oxidation, whereas cans have less air in the container, which helps to prevent this type of spoilage.

While all of these aforementioned statements are valid arguments in favor of the can, there is one solid fact that cannot be refuted—cans block out light.

It’s a very common, albeit terribly unfortunate, assumption that imported green- and clear-bottled beers are supposed to have a unique ‘twang’ to them. That funky odor that stings the nostrils upon first inhale is more commonly known as a “skunked” beer. Do not be fooled. Your beer is NOT supposed to smell or taste like that. Green and clear bottles are the worst possible container for your beer, as they allow light to penetrate the container, which interacts with the acids in the hops, creating a sulfur smell—a reaction known as “light-struck.” Even artificial light sources can skunk a beer.

Needless to say, cans, on the other hand, do not allow any light to come in contact with the precious liquid they protect inside.

Still don’t believe me? I challenge you to buy a 6-pack of green- or clear-glass bottles that have been sitting under your local grocery store’s fluorescent lights, and then grab a 4-pack of the same beer sold in cans. Pour each one into a glass, take a sip, and be amazed at the difference.

Next time you find yourself shopping for your favorite brew, whether import, domestic, or craft, don’t ignore the cans. They’re good for the environment, easier to store, safer, and prevent you from getting “skunked.”

Here’s to drinking good, unadulterated beer! Na zdrowie!

Chad Rozniecki is the owner and operator of The Lauter Tun – Fine Ales and Spirits, located at 3309 Oak View Dr. #102.