Though I live in Minneapolis, I don't make it to the best local brewpub, Minneapolis Town Hall Brewery, nearly enough. This is something I've been saying I need to change for four years now. Nice atmosphere, new beers virtually every week, good food if you're interested. Luckily, I was able to find my way there twice in the past four days, and though I enjoyed only one beverage each time, both stops were well worth the barely ten minutes it takes me to get there. Plus, I FINALLY got to try the much ballyhooed Mango Mama, which has eluded me for all these years.
I stopped in Saturday afternoon with a California uncle (who has more Town Hall paraphernalia than I do), and both of us decided to try the seasonal cherry ale. Good reviews from the bartender. Won't get bad reviews from me, but I'd put them a half-star short of good. On the spectrum of cherry beers I've had, this one fits right about in the middle when it comes to both tartness and enjoyment. If a Belgian kriek is a ten on the tart scale, this one would be about a four I'd say, but it's not nearly as sweet as the sweetest of girly fruit beers I've had. And when you can compare every cherry beer you ever have to Sam Adams Cherry Wheat, nothing looks that bad.
Fairly easy to drink, especially on a sunny afternoon. Bonus points for drinkability perhaps, but I don't think I'd say I'd order another if I was presented with other options. Cherries were about the only detectable flavor, though, and while I can appreciate a delicate summer ale, I usually am looking for more of a kick. This was simply the appetizer for a huge day of beer. Did its job.
Tuesday evening, however, on a whim, I found myself back on the 7 Corner patio with a friend I wanted to introduce to the Minneapolis brewpub scene. Since we both work in St. Paul, and there are a handful of great beer options within a stone's throw of the 9-5, we rarely cross the river. Plus, there's this weird deal where people from St. Paul DO NOT venture into Minneapolis. Only out of necessity. I'm not a lifelong Minneapolitan, so I have no problems splitting my time, but seriously, weren't they ever curious? Didn't they ever see a restaurant review that intrigued them? No trips to the record stores? The coffee shops? The garage sales? Anything? This is a chapter in a book I'm not writing.
Anyway, I was expecting to enjoy a Cascale Ale, their first in a series of single hopped beers intended to help drinkers identify their favorite hop varieties. A nice idea. To my surprise, Mango Mama appeared on the whiteboard draught list! I was shocked enough that I yelled to the loitering waitresses as we walked in, embarassing my already hesitant St. Paulite companion.
I love the original Masala Mama, but had heard from various sources that the Mango tops it. The trouble is, it's rarely around for more than a day (Monday) and I haven't been able to find my way there in time to get one before. This was my night.
There was a tiny problem in this plot: I don't like mangoes. Don't hate them, but would never buy one. Is it perhaps because my wife is allergic to them? Doesn't help. But no, mangoes just don't do it for me. I'd rather have a pineapple, but there is no Pina Mama.
I'm living proof that you need not like mangoes to love the hell out of a Mango Mama. The sweetness was definitely present in the smell, but danced nicely with the bitter hops I associate with the Masala. And the sweet mango bounces off your lips instantly. Lingers for a bit, and then gives way to a majestic mouth-sweep of bitterness. It's interesting to read the reviews of this one, because half of them say the mango dominates, and half say the hops balance it out at the end. Place me squarely in the second camp. I did not think the mango was overbearing. At all.
This was a beer I wanted to make last two days. How good was it, you ask? With one solid swig left in my goblet, a moth found its way into my remaining suds and was unable to hoist itself out. I thought about it for a while, at first resigning myself to giving away that final sip, but then deciding I would be doing the beer an injustice by not finishing it. I have no fear of moths, but it's no fun fishing one out of a beer. But it had to be done. My companion agreed. After all, there haven't been any diagnosed cases of Moth Flu yet, have there?