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Day 16: St. Cloud, MN to Minneapolis, MN

This post is coming a day late, but I was just too exhausted last night from the heat. Today is even more of a scorcher (humid with a high of 93 or 94), so I’m taking a rest day in Minneapolis, which also means I’ll give a bit of a rundown of today.

Yeah, it’s nice to be in a big city again. I woke up in St. Cloud with a bit of a hangover. I blame Beaver Island for their 6-beer flights. Remember how back in Missoula I specifically didn’t finish the 6-cider flight for that very reason? That was my intention at Beaver Island as well, but I got into an involved conversation with some other people at the bar, and I kept sipping on my beers, and by the end I had drunk a lot more than I had intended to. Lesson to self: Be very aware of how much you’re drinking even if there’s a conversation distracting you.

Anyway, Nick made me some French toast for breakfast, and by the time I headed out at 7:45 the hangover had mostly worn off.

The Lake Wobegon Trail had ended at the St. Cloud city limits, so yesterday’s ride was a combination of short bike paths and on-road riding. There’s an official “Mississippi River Trail” route but it’s hard to follow. Not all the bike paths are signed, not all of them are on Google maps, and they can begin and end very abruptly. To wit: About 4 miles in, Google showed the road ahead becoming a dead end and told me to turn right. However, it also showed the bike path I was on ending, and my eyes showed the bike path clearly continuing. So I continued on the path, thinking it might go through even if the road didn’t. About 2/3 of a mile later, it just stopped. It came out to the road, and there was no sign for what to do. (In most states there would be a “Bike Route End” sign or something to that effect.) So it was u-turn time, and I added on an extra mile or so to my ride.

Most of the ride for the day was pretty nondescript. It was a mix of wooded suburbia and farmland, not dissimilar to what you’d see 40 miles outside of any major city, except the roads were a lot straighter and flatter than what you’d see in Massachusetts. At 29 miles I stopped for a more full breakfast in Monticello, and at 54 miles I stopped for lunch at a Greek restaurant in Osseo. They did a really good spanakopita, but the service was a bit too pushy.

While I was at the Greek restaurant, I checked to see if there were any breweries in the area. OMNI Brewing showed up as being about a mile and a half behind me, but they hadn’t been open when I had passed them. Now that I’d spent some time eating lunch, they were open and I decided I was close enough to Minneapolis that I could tack on an extra 3 miles doubling back to visit them.

Everything I had at OMNI was above average, but nothing really stood out as exceptional. Definite creativity points for the Sota Shake, a milkshake IPA made with local strawberries and rhubarb. I also liked the Farmer Gerry’s golden ale, which was refreshing but had good flavor. And of course points for the Game of Thrones reference with “A Beer Has No Name”.

Jason, my warmshowers host for last night and tonight, wasn’t going to be home until around 7:30, so I knew I’d have some time to burn, so I asked at OMNI for recommendations of good breweries in Minneapolis. The furthest north one that they mentioned was 56 Brewing (yes, the brewery’s name is a number) in Northeast Minneapolis, 12 miles away, so I decided to head there next.

By the way, if you want total geographic confusion, Northeast Minneapolis is the portion of the northern part of the city on the east side of the Mississippi. North Minneapolis is the portion on the west side of the Mississippi, the same side as downtown. However, due to a bend in the river, Northeast Minneapolis is due north of downtown, while North Minneapolis is northwest of downtown. Stew on that for a while.

This 12 miles was where the abruptness of bike trails beginning and ending really started to drive me crazy. Sometimes there would be a nice bike path next to the road. When it ended, sometimes there would be a wide shoulder for me to bike on, and sometimes there would be no shoulder. In the latter case I usually wound up on the sidewalk since I didn’t want to bike in a traffic lane as I got closer to the city. Also, as I got into the concrete jungle, the temperature went up a few degrees. It has been about 84 in Maple Grove, where OMNI was, but it was 88 in Minneapolis despite being late afternoon.

On the bright side, as soon as the road crossed into the Minneapolis city limits, a bike lane miraculously began! And then half a mile later I was treated to a nice wide bike path down the middle of a greenway!

That path actually took me all the way out to the river. The bridge over the river gave me a nice view of a train crossing and some kayakers.

And then it was only a short distance down the river on the other side and I was at 56 Brewing.

I asked about the name. Apparently the owner has just been obsessed with the number 56 for a long time. For the beer itself, my favorite was definitely the Fuzzi Lil’ Pucker peach sour. Very peachy, and the sour part wasn’t overwhelming. I also liked the Nose Hair Bender IPA, which was designed to have a little bit of everything. It’s made with 5 different hops, so it winds up not too bitter, not too fruity, a bit chewy but not overly so, and with a lot of complexity on the palate.

The other brewery that was recommended to me at OMNI was Modist, in downtown Minneapolis only a couple of blocks from Target Field, so I headed there next.

(Of course, when it was recommended to me I heard it as “Modest”, so I had trouble finding it online. Now I’ll have to open a Mussorgsky-themed brewery called Modest Brewing.)

Anyway, when I got to Modist it was mobbed because the Twins had a home game, first pitch was in an hour, and a lot of people were pre-gaming. Accordingly, it soon emptied out quite nicely. Once I settled in, I discovered that Modist is a truly unique brewery. They have this crazy mash system that pounds their malt down to basically flour (see photo below). Accordingly, they can use different grains in proportions in their beer that would normally be almost impossible for yeast to digest. The bartender told me only 3 breweries in the country have a system like this.

At this point, both given the time and given my hangover experience yesterday morning, I knew I had to limit myself, so I got a few of their lower ABV beers and promised myself I’d come back today. Of the lower ABV beers, my favorite was the Fruit City apricot & peach sour ale. I’ve had a few apricot beers before, but this one really brought out the flavor of fresh apricots in a nice way.

And then it was on to Jason’s to retire for the night. En route I stopped by USBank Stadium, home of the Vikings. Maybe someday they’ll even win a Super Bowl.

When I got to Jason’s, it turned out that he’s a craft brewer himself, under the label Dancing Bird. He has a keg system set up, and even runs a beer CSA. So I was lucky enough to get to try his brown ale. First time ever having home brew on draft rather than out of a bottle! And I wound up giving him the crowler from Copper Trail in exchange, since my host in St. Cloud wasn’t a drinker.

Now, in most of the homes where I’ve stayed on this trip, whether my warmshowers hosts’ in Lewiston and Missoula, my cousin’s in Seattle, or my AirBnB hosts’, the guest room has been in the basement. This meant that I always had a nice cool guest room and never had to worry about it being too hot. In Jason’s house the guest room is on the second floor, there’s only one small air conditioning duct in the floor, and unbeknownst to me the duct was mostly closed for some reason. And while Jason had fans I hadn’t thought to ask him for one before he turned in. You can see where this is going. I wound up on the living room couch for much of the night because even though the bed was much more comfortable, the living room was (barely) cool enough to sleep in. For tonight I made sure to open the duct fully (but really, who puts an a/c duct in the floor?), and I have a fan set up to circulate the air better.

Today’s goal was mostly about taking it easy and staying indoors. Jason lives on the southeast side of Powderhorn Park, and on the northwest side is this giant indoor market called Midtown Global Market. (Another geographic oddity: Midtown Minneapolis is south of downtown, but uptown is west of midtown. Why? Beats me.) So I walked across the park to it. While the market tended to skew towards Latin American- and Asian-oriented stalls, there were a few European and African ones as well, so it’s decently global. And I had a really good lunch of saag paneer on the cheap! Also, they had cool Somali-themed statues in the lobby.

Of course, the craft beer craze being what it is, the market is also home to Eastlake Brewery, so I had to check it out.

As with OMNI, Eastlake didn’t have anything super amazing, but it was all quite good. I thought the Mud in Your Eye nut brown ale was particularly good for a brown ale, and as previously mentioned I’m a sucker for Citra IPAs, so I really liked the Sun Dogs’. Also good nostalgia for the 1987 World Series with Kirby Pucker.

After hanging out at the market for a few hours, just because I didn’t want to go outside, I caught a Lyft back to Modist so I could check out their stronger beers. Wow is the Boozehound amazing! Besides being the second-strongest beer I’ve ever had, at 20%, it really does manage to recreate an Old Fashioned in beer form. Which is to say it tasted like an Old Fashioned but also tastes like a beer, which is a pretty impressive accomplishment if you ask me. Apparently they aged it in barrels for a full year. I washed it down with the Triiips, which is a mere 10% ABV and very good. One of those beers that could be dangerous if you drank it on its own, because you really don’t taste how much alcohol is in it. (Note to anyone worried about my alcohol consumption: I only had 4oz pours of each of these strong beers. Drink responsibly!)

Before leaving downtown, I stopped by the Nicollet Mall, which had been closed for construction the last time I was in Minneapolis, to get a photo with Mary Tyler Moore.

Total distance: 76.3 miles
Average speed: 13.9 mph

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