New Choices for the Craft Beer Connoisseur

From High Plains Reader

JL Beers and the South Moorhead Atomic Coffee have graced the metro with an amazingly diverse list of high-quality craft brew. For the uninitiated, craft beer loosely refers to a brew made with traditional methods—no adjuncts, such as rice or corn, are added to reduce costs or change the characteristics of the beer. Craft brews tend to have a more distinctive taste than mass-consumed beers, which may limit the audience of any one brand. The explosion of microbreweries in the United States and around the world, however, virtually guarantees that an individual can find a variety that appeals to their taste buds.

Atomic Coffee may have the smaller selection of the new establishments, but the choices they’ve made fall in line with a quality-over-quantity approach. Residents of Fargo-Moorhead can finally enjoy a refreshing pint of Surly from the tap, without having to cross the city limits.

The Surly Brewing Company is a relative newcomer to the industry, with beers starting to flow off the line of their Brooklyn Center location towards the end of 2005. The Surly family includes several year-round beers, and one or two seasonal varieties. The most sought-after of these is “Darkness,” the high-alcohol, Russian Stout available in the weeks following Halloween.

Atomic Coffee has blessed us with what could be considered the flagship of Surly’s year-round lineup, Surly Furious, brewed with a blend of four different American hop varieties. Hops are the flower of the vermicular hop plant and are used to give beers their bitterness and aroma. The result is a flavorful crimson brew, with an eye-opening citrus bouquet. The beer starts with a complex caramel taste and finishes with a delicious bitterness from the hop blend, a sensation that stays with you well after the liquid has left your tongue on the way to your stomach. This is one beer that may very well be an acquired taste if you’re coming from the world of Anheuser-Busch.

Atomic rounds off their selection with two fabulous stouts from Bell’s Brewery including a java stout. The perfect accompaniment to the fragrances of a coffee shop, the java stout enhances the inherent coffee flavor of the stout by blending Sumatra and chocolate to make a rich, filling brew. Also available are a Widmer IPA and Lindeman’s Raspberry Framboise, a sweet fruit beer that pairs well with desserts. If you’re looking for a unique beverage without the noise of a pub, Atomic should be at the top of your destination list.

South Moorhead Atomic Coffee:
For the craft beer drinker: Surly Furious
For coffee lovers: Bell’s Java Stout
For desert lovers: Lindeman’s Raspberry Framboise

If a more traditional bar scene is to your liking, or if you’re looking to pair your beverage with a burger and fries, JL Beers fits the bill. With 32 taps, 33 bottle varieties, numerous cans, and even a few “big beer” 750ml varieties. JL Beers has raised the bar for craft beer in downtown Fargo. Here you’ll find everything from a can of Hamm’s to the finest Belgian dubbel.

The entire space and concept is set up to make the beers the focal point. A long bar surrounding an impressive shelf system of bottles, cans and taps makes up almost all the seating in the long, skinny pub. The beer list not only gives you names of the products, but also descriptions of the taste, alcohol content, and even a glossary of general beer categories and terms.

JL Beers brings a new level of convenience to the person looking to enjoy a craft beer from the comfort of their own home. Burgers can be ordered to go, along with bottles or growlers (a half gallon from any of the taps). If you happen to find yourself unable to finish one of JL Beers’ big beers, the staff will happily reseal the bottle so you can take the remainder home.

For those who quiver at the prospect of making one choice among the formable selection of suds, JL Beers also provides beer flights, consisting of five small glasses of different varieties.

JL Beers:
For the craft beer drinker: start on the leftmost tap and work your way right
For the Anheuser-Busch fan: enjoy your old standby or dip your toe into the world of craft beers with something from the New Belgium Brewery.
For non-beer drinkers: Woodchuck Draft Cider or a 750ml of Lindeman’s Rasberry Framboise
For non-alcohol drinkers: Delicious 1919 rootbeer on tap!
For everyone: an egg-burger with seasoned chips

Now get out there and start expanding that palette.

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