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First look inside Tin Whiskers Brewing

A brewery and taproom is coming to the building I live in (the Rossmor) in downtown St. Paul. The owners of Tin Whiskers Brewing Co. held an open house Saturday to meet neighbors. The guys are three electrical engineers who have basement-brewed for several years in Roseville, but are now launching their taproom in the fairer of our Twin Cities.


Jeff Moriarty (left) and George Kellerman in their new Lowertown St. Paul space. The Tin Whiskers Brewing Co. owners held an open house for friends, family and neighbors Saturday, Dec. 21.

Beer was available for tasting, so I tried the Flip Switch IPA, which contains a variety of American hops and was nicely balanced. The guys said they’re still on track to open in the second quarter of 2014. George said they’re hoping for April if everything goes as smoothly as possible. For now, the owners said they are holding onto their day jobs, joking about how “all the money is in craft beer,” but hey, look at Indeed and its meteoric rise in the local market. It feels like yesterday when I was touring the skeleton of Indeed’s now buzzing taproom in northeast Minneapolis during Art-a-Whirl a few years back. More photos of the space, which looks to be about 3,000 or so square feet with 16-foot ceilings:


The windows out to Ninth Street. Jeff said one of the reasons he liked the space was because of how much natural light the massive Rossmor building windows provide.


The windows out toward the Rossmor back parking lot. Jeff said the majority of heavy brewing equipment will line this back wall, and will be partitioned by the bar and seating area that will be closer to the front windows and Ninth Street.


The owners said this pillar will kind of split the two halves of the space. Behind it will be the brewing equipment, in front of it will be the bar and seating area.


Northern Spark 2013 in photos

This gallery contains 17 photos.

As promised, a gallery and captions from my time at this year’s Northern Spark festival. Enjoy.  

I joined downtown YMCA

This junky elliptical I bought several years ago gave out last February, and I was stuck wondering how to get workouts in amid the horror that is Minnesota winters.

Looked at a couple different gym options. Downtown YMCA is fairly close to me in Lowertown, skyway accessible, and $45 a month if I go 12 times (health insurance benefit). Anytime and places like that are cheaper, but I don’t want to drive anywhere.

Anyway, downtown YMCA is pretty good. The facilities are a bit worn, and there aren’t any sparkling atrium-like mega cardio rooms like some YMCAs around the TC, but the four floors offer a variety of exercise options. There’s a pool, hot tub and sauna. On the fifth floor, a running track circles the basketball courts, a feature that is absent in some other newer YMCAs, including Lino Lakes and White Bear Lake. Mainly, I want to be able to run in the winter, not outside and not on a treadmill. Call me a hamster, it’s better than the treadmill.

What else is going down around here? It looks like current hole-in-the-wall The Liquor Vault is going all emporium on us by moving into the old Eisenberg’s space, according to research done by someone who decided to comment on a previous blog post. Btw, shout out to that person for inspiring me to get back on here and keep blogging, I was flagging for a while.

The Penfield project is moving at a rapid pace. The framing and insulation is up on about five stories above the foundation of the future Lunds, and it keeps growing taller. It won’t affect my view of anything but many neighbors have views of the Capitol. I look at Region’s Hospital all day.

Because I didn’t have any pictures for you, I’m inserting this ace footage of the Purity Ring show at First Avenue last Thursday:

How will Penfield affect Northwestern Precinct?

I snapped some photos of the Penfield construction last week.


It’s taking form nicely, with an old facade still standing along 10th Street, and about four stories of the wooden frames of apartments stacking up along 11th Street. That, along with the impending light rail bells about to ring throughout our fair downtown, is giving my recent strolls around these blocks a “transitional” feel, as in a “neighborhood in transition.”

photoOr more aptly, a neighborhood first forming. If and when the Pedro Park gets built, and people are living at Penfield, I suspect a lot of dog owners to congregate at the park, like a mini-Mears. It won’t quite have the quadrangle feel of Mears, but on at least two sides there will be impressive, historical and aesthetically-pleasing building features facing the park. It will be nice to get it established.

I’m not expecting a flourishing Mears Park-style environment for some years, but it will be better than what was at the corner since I moved here, namely a Penfield sign announcing big changes soon that were delayed a half-decade. There still isn’t critical mass to get residents to *want* to walk around outside around here, but hey, it wouldn’t be St. Paul if it did.

My Mexico City hotel review

I reviewed my hotel in Mexico City for Orbitz. You can read it below, or check it out on the Orbitz site, it posted the other day:

I was happy with this place for my first stay in Mexico City, but I’ll also make this an honest review. Firstly, the Internet is extremely nice to have if you have devices to help plan and map out your trip. However at times it faded in and out. One night it was frustratingly in and out and streaming video didn’t work, but otherwise it works well enough for e-mail and social media. Ask the front desk for the password (contrasena), before heading to your room. The location of this place is a bit odd. All of the people I know in Mexico City were a bit puzzled as to how to get to this place in a car. If you’re going by yourself and plan on using the Metro, it’s fine, but trying to drive a car through the tiny, narrow streets in this neighborhood can be a time waster. Luis Moya is a nice enough street to walk despite narrow sidewalks. You can walk north to Alameda Park and the Juarez Monument, and then swing over to the historic center and Zocalo, or you can walk south to Arcos (a lively strip with a bunch of streetside food and magazine vendors) on your way to Balderas, which was my Metro stop of choice. Balderas is only two stops east of Insurgentes, a convenient way to get to tourist area Zona Rosa, and the Paseo de Reforma, which has a big American style mall at 222. The room was always clean, and the bathroom was nice and modern. The sheets have a few holes in them, but that’s not a big deal. Unfortunately, they were cleaning and renovating other rooms around mine for a couple of days during my stay, but they were only making noise during the day. The staff is nice, they give you a free bottle of water everyday. There appears to always be someone at the front desk. When you leave, they ask you if you need a taxi, which was considerate. Overall, if you’re looking for a cheap place to stay, this place doesn’t disappoint. The city sort of comes down to neighborhoods. This one is interesting because it sits between the historic center and its stunning architecture and the more modern, Euro-influenced Zona Rosa. Colonia Centro is more working class and blue collar. It has a bunch of hardware stores and streetside vendors. If you want to see that sort of everyday life, by all means stay here and walk or use the Metro. If you want something right in Zona Rosa, the historic center, or in some other westside neighborhood (Condesa reminded me of nice Brooklyn), then look at hotels there.

Photos from Mexico City

This was outside of Insurgentes Metro Station, two stops west of my hotel. It provides easy access to tourist area Zona Rosa.

This was outside of Insurgentes Metro Station, two stops west of my hotel. It provides easy access to tourist area Zona Rosa.


Metropolitan Cathedral on the north side of the Zocalo. Tours for 13 pesos allow you to climb to the top and take photos from the roof.


She was taking a walk through the park with her friends, looking for a boyfriend. I couldn’t resist.


This was taken from the top of the castle in a large park that anchors a portion of the western edge of Mexico City. The main artery heading northeast is Paseo de la Reforma, Mexico City’s effort at a Champs Elysees.


Adventurin, or tourist trappin’ as my brother in law calls it, at Teotihuacan. It’s about a half hour drive northeast of the city.


Glass curtain at Palacio de Bella Artes.


Ivonne and Ivan drove us to Xochimilco with help from a hitchhiker, who provided directions. I’ve never been over so many speed bumps, they are everywhere on snaky roads through the southern portion of the city. Here we are at a cafe in Ivonne’s delegacion, Chalco. It’s about a 70 minute collectivo ride to the city from here. Apparently she uses them frequently, and just prefers to live way outside the city.


The Mendoza sisters were a huge help showing me museums in the park. We’re taking a little train ride up the hill to the castle which was once called home by Maxmilian and Carlota, who seem to be somewhat still revered in the annals of Mexican history.


I tried some premium mezcal at a trap restaurant outside Teotihuacan. Yes it had the worm on the bottom and it was very delicious (the booze not the worm). It tasted like extra-aged with smoke and charcoal tequila. Pip Hanson take note.


These stores are like a cooler Express, and are everywhere in Mexico City. The cool kids go here to shop. Somewhat inexpensive Euro-style.


The morning in Chalco. This is a little public square with stray dogs and morning walkers. I was about to embark on my harrowing collectivo ride, not just because of the aggressive driving and traffic with no seat belts, but a… let’s say unstable stomach… to boot.


Clowning at El Castillo.

Video from Mexico

With high temperatures in Minnesota not expected to crack zero degrees today, here are two videos from my recent trip to Mexico City I hope will warm you up. The first was took on my first night after arriving, when I stumbled upon “El Angel.” The second was my first time walking around El Zocalo, the city’s main square, one of the largest in the world.