Podcast Episode 1: Republic, City House, AX Fitness, Top Ten Liquors

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On my first independent episode, I spoke with Matty O’Reilly of Top-100 craft beer bar Republic about navigating two big new projects — one on the Mississippi River, another in the MSP International Airport — and what he would open if he was guaranteed success in it (4:07)

Christine Jaques of AX Fitness talked about who trained her to become the trainer she is today, the challenges small gyms face in the era of megaplex gyms and YouTube sensations, and her upcoming concert at The Cabooze in Minneapolis. Did I sound gassed at the start? It’s because she made me do burpees while interviewing her at one point (26:48)

Tyler Hitchcock has become the face and voice of the Top Ten Liquors family of shops. He talked about how he found craft beer, who his company’s biggest threats are (and who they aren’t), and we previewed this weekend’s Minnesota Craft Brewers panel (45:20).

Other topics include what we’re doing on a boat this week, and how Ryan Tuenge’s car is behaving these days (hint: not good).

 

Constantine’s Chef-Tender Series Takes Fund-Raising Underground

DeCamp
This photo was brought to you by the world’s most obnoxious phone camera flash.

Kids are hungry, so what is Constantine doing? Sending the chef out front to make cocktails.

Underneath Monello, the not-so-secret and sorta-spooky drink hideout has teamed up with No Kid Hungry for a bi-weekly fund-raising effort. Every other Tuesday (including this coming Aug. 16), local drink wizard Jesse Held is joined behind the bar by … a chef? Yep. A chef. It runs from 8 p.m. until midnight.

I came when Constantine’s own Mike DeCamp was clocked in. I found more than benevolence, though: I found prices that didn’t intimidate, a good line of snacks, and a welcoming crew.

If it’s a comfy shadow you’re after, come creep into Constantine.

The Basics: Monello is latched onto Hotel Ivy, on 2nd Ave. S and 11th St. in Minneapolis. Constantine (named after Constantine) is located just below. They are similar only in their front entrance.

Ready to lose a minute or two? Here, go to the Constantine website and watch drinks get made on the front page. As for the Chef-Tender series, there’s no cover charge. Proceeds from the drinks benefit NKH.

Pictured (in no order): Ben Quam, Lizzie B., and other people much cooler than I am.
Pictured (in no order): Ben Quam, Lizzie B., and other people much cooler than I am.

Constantine plays perfectly to its subterranean setting. Most of its lighting comes via candles; the wonky layout makes it feel like a mini-maze; and the artwork lets your imagination run wild. Who are these portraits of in this corner? How old is that armor? What’s a whiskey chapel? What does it all mean?

To make an matters worse for an over-thinker, the music oscillates between rap, metal renditions of Backstreet Boys tracks, hitting anything with a good beat on the way. Hey, it’s dark in there but they need to keep you alert because

It’s gonna get weird,” announced Held, right around 8 p.m. Rap music began bumping, and out came Mike DeCamp to sling cocktails. Don’t worry: a pre-set menu is laid out with the four cocktails you can choose from per tender.

DeCamp made a Louisiana Purchase for your humble author. It tasted like Faygo orange soda, but boozy … and make no mistake, that’s a high grade in my classes. DeCamp didn’t move at the speed of Held, of course, but he kept up okay.

ConstantineBurger

The menu is highlighted by small, inexpensive snacks. The cheeseburger had the look, the gooey bite, little snap, nice patty. I’d pay $5 for this any night. Better yet, I’d pay $30 for a hexaburger version of this. Very satisfying burger.

Oh, but the wrapping paper doesn’t make sense? It’s not supposed to make sense. Just shut up and eat.

The tater barrels, at $7, are a good helping that’ll keep you and your pals busy a while. The buffalo bleu chicken wing (not plural – one wing) tasted great; but, at $3, had nowhere near the bang/buck you get from the cheeseburger.

Then there’s the pop-tart. Imagine the toaster version you enjoyed as a kid (or this morning, I won’t judge) and imagine it better. This is it. Eat it right away, though, or the filling soaks through and gets messy.

PopTart

You can find more information about the next Chef-Tender event on the Facebook event page.

STILL GOT TIME?: Check out the recap of this year’s Taste of the Nation Hotlist, which also helps No Kid Hungry; and I believe tickets are still available for Taste of the Nation next month.

Whiskey Chapel
This is Constantine’s Whiskey Chapel. If a doctor tells me I’ve got three hours to live, I’m breaking in here and drinking as much as I can before I die.

Far Better is it to Dare Mighty Things

LastShow

… to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure… than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much, because they live in a gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat.  — Theodore Roosevelt

Some people knew. Others are just now finding out. I have left Sizzlin’ 99.9.

The reasons are several-fold, and fall generally under these categories:

  • Increased responsibilities at my day job left me unable to fill 90 minutes of a show every week with content worth listening to.
  • Said increase also precipitated the need to work by my own schedule.
  • Glug and Play would have likely never materialized with the demands the Skinny presently had (proceed to the bottom).

Spring into summer was, I thought, fairly organized for a shitshow. I was stressed out, high-strung, and drinking a little too much. It was time to change a few things. I laid everything out a couple of months ago, identified problems, and took action before it could spiral out of control.

I cut back on the sauce. I socked away some of Dat OT Money and began paying writers. Still, a 90-minute show meant my Sunday nights (planning), Monday afternoons, (recording), and Tuesday nights (editing) were eaten up. With my workload not slowing down, and the demands of my website increasing, I just couldn’t do it anymore. So here we are.

Pardon the corny Self-Q&A here, but I want to get this information out quickly and this is the quickest way:

Is the show done then? No. I don’t want to scramble and throw together a show this coming Monday, so we’re skipping this week, but we’re back at it August 22.

Where will you record? I’ve had a few people approach me already. The plan is to establish a home base, but record elsewhere occasionally (like on Aug. 24, when 56 Brewing, 6Smith, and us are recording a show as we cruise around Lake Minnetonka!). I’m going to take a look at it over the next few days and make a decision.

(Master P voice) Who you wit’? I’m not planning to join another podcast network at this time. There are some good ones, but I need to complete this reinvention before I worry about any of that.

Tuenge still in? Of course he is. I’d never let him off the hook that easily.

How will the show be different now? That fcking crime quiz I had to scour the Internet to find questions for every week? Gone. Sports talk for the sake of talking? Gone. That’s not to say we won’t ever talk about sports; we just won’t really dive in unless we’ve a sportsy guest on, or a particular topic to focus on (like how badly my Dolphins suck).

Another big difference will be distribution. Once I’ve got an RSS feed set up, you’ll finally be able to download and subscribe to the show on popular platforms like Stitcher, Soundcloud, and (maybe) Spreaker in addition to iTunes.

Another big difference will be show length. Expect it to drop from 90 minutes to about 45.

Finally, the ability to edit and post on my own schedule will precipitate more consistency in posting. No more shows vanishing because of some technical riff-raff or whatever.

A small difference will be music. Since I can’t use copyrighted tracks anymore, the hope is to bring local bands in for short segments and song features. It’s not becoming a music show. We’re talkin’ like 3-minute spots here and playing one track.

If it’s podcast-only now, why music at all? Ever hear me talk 45 minutes straight? Trust me, I’m doin’ this for you.

What won’t change: Never more than one brewer. The format is still beer first, and whatever we talk about after that. I want the conversations to feel natural; and now, with no clock ticking in the back of my head, I can relax and let that happen more (buzzword incoming) organically.

(barfs)

We will still record on Mondays, unless special circumstances arise (like that boat). As for the finished product, I’m thinking Thursdays.

EDIT: I FORGOT TO TALK ABOUT GLUG AND PLAY! Webshow! Tuenge, Joe Giambruno of Bad Weather Brewing and I! One beer, a topic, one video game, a topic! Guests! Smack-talk! Cartridge-blowing! Controller-throwing! A couch! Look out!

I’m looking forward to it, all of it. My equipment won’t look as cool as it did working for Sizzlin’, but restrictions are gone. I’ve got my fingers crossed for some pretty cool stuff to give writers to do. It’s all happening because I’ve got a great support system, a solid foundation, and the best readers a 3,000-calorie sandwich junkie could ask for.

You guys are the best.