Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Beer, brats & bare feet January 24, 2014

RIGHT NOW YOU’RE likely wondering about that title, Beer, brats & bare feet. What’s the connection?

The commonalities, my friends, are the letter “b” and Minnesota.

Let me explain.

The other morning a customer stopped by the automotive machine shop which my husband runs in Northfield, Minnesota. Nothing extraordinary about that. Customers filter in and out all day.

Imagine wearing sandals right now outdoors in Minnesota.

Imagine wearing sandals right now outdoors in Minnesota.

But this customer arrived in sandals. On a day when temperatures hovered around zero degrees Fahrenheit and the windchill plunged the “feels like” temp even lower. This guy wasn’t wearing socks with his sandals, as you might expect, although he was wrapped in a winter coat.

Naturally, my spouse inquired about the bare feet and sandals. The customer replied (and this is not an exact quote) that he was tapping into his inner hippie.

Alright then.

My husband loves brats and grills them in the winter along with meats that I will eat. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.

My husband loves brats and grills them year-round along with meats that I will eat. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.

Over at St. Peter’s Lutheran Church in rural Gibbon, Minnesota, parishioners are apparently tapping into our state’s Scandinavian and German heritages via a Sven & Ole Book Fair at an All You Can Eat Pancake & Bratwurst Dinner from 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. Sunday, January 26.

Bars made by Lutherans, but not from St. Peter's Church. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.

Bars made by Lutherans, but not from St. Peter’s Church. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.

Also on the menu are applesauce, cheese, cookies and bars. Yes, bars. How Minnesotan is that?

And how Minnesotan that the book fair comes via Sven & Ole’s Books in the nearby noted German city of New Ulm. And, yes, the proprietor’s name truly is Sven and his brother’s middle name is Olaf, Ole for short, according to the bookstore website.

Icy cold beer served up in a Minnesota Vikings mug.

Icy cold beer served up in a Minnesota Vikings mug. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.

Now about that beer, which I think would be a better accompaniment for brats than pancakes. I like neither brats nor pancakes, although I am 100 percent German. But I do like bars, the kind you eat. And I enjoy an occasional mug of beer.

I learned through a recent column in The Gaylord Hub, a small-town newspaper where I worked as a reporter and photographer right out of college, about the Minnesota Historical Society’s “Beer and Brewing in the Land of Sky Blue Waters” lecture/workshop offering. It is funded through grant monies from Minnesota’s Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund as part of the Minnesota Historical Society in the Libraries Adult Programming.

August Schell Brewing Company in New Ulm. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.

August Schell Brewing Company in New Ulm. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.

A “discussion of brewing history along with beer tasting by Schell’s,” a New Ulm brewery, was recently held at the Gaylord Public Library, for adults 21 and over with valid ID, according to info written by Gaylord’s librarian. Two days later, nearby St. Peter hosted the same beer event at its community center.

So there you have it. Beer, brats and bare feet in Minnesota. Cheers.


© Copyright 2014 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


30 Responses to “Beer, brats & bare feet”

  1. From the land of sky blue waters…reminds me of Hamms Beer commercials (circa 1979 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JP8JgQxXO8U). I haven’t thought about Hamms beer in years. Schells beer is plenty good and New Ulm is a fantastic town to visit. I regularly see seemingly extra-warm-blooded individuals in shorts (never sandals though) throughout our winter season – gives me chills. To each their own. The site of that grilled meat is making me hungry even at this early hour. Some inspiration for the weekend.

    • You know your Minnesota beer commercials, Dan. I always loved that “land of sky blue waters” slogan.

      I totally agree about Schell’s beer and New Ulm. Both are great. I knew about Schell’s long before it became well-known state-wide. It was the beer of choice for my dad and uncles.

      My husband grills nearly every weekend, year-round, on the Weber charcoal grill unless it’s in the negative temps.

  2. Beth Ann Says:

    Love brats and not a fan of beer. Definitely a bare foot kind of gal but not in this weather. That is just nuts. IMHO Brrr. The wind is howling and the snow is blowing. It looks like more is on the way and I have yet to get a path cleared by the road. Sigh. I wish someone would take pity on me.

  3. treadlemusic Says:

    Great post!!!! Love the photo! Last Monday, on the way to Spring Grove quilting, I came up to a stop sign, looked to my left and then my right……………oh my!!! There, coming at me from the West along the edge of the highway, was a jogger dressed only in board shorts, with his shirt tied around his waist/bare-chested, and jogging shoes!!! The weather was in the “teens”F, blustery and snowy!!!!! And, yes, is guess-timated age was around 17…..but still……………….
    I love grilled brats and I would think they would be a suitable sausage accompaniment for pancakes (as would any smoked sausage).
    Have a great day!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  4. I wear flip flops from the time the snow melts to the time the snow flies but I’m not quite brave enough to risk frost bite. It was fridged cold yesterday. Talk about crazy. YUM brats… must go BBQ in the snow. 😉

  5. The inner hippie made me chuckle! As I read this, I realized this would go well with what you’re talking about today: the ice patio has opened at Groveland Tap in St. Paul (http://www.grovelandtap.com/) and will be there until it melts. Nothing like having a beer at a table made of ice. I think I’d wear socks, though.

  6. Here’s another b word – Brrrrrrrr!!! I have toured the Schells brewery when I was a teenager, so I was offered their root beer. You really make me miss the Midwestern Church events – pancakes, spaghetti, bars, turkey bingo, etc. I love when people here say it is May we can grill again – WTH?!? We grill and smoke year round – if the grill happens to be covered in the white stuff just brush it off and shovel a path to that baby! Happy Weekend:)

  7. At my age I probably do have an inner hippie but you won’t find me frolicking in the snow in sandals. I do miss American church dinners (or suppers as they were called in Maine)

  8. hotlyspiced Says:

    Surely it’s too cold to be a hippy in Minnesota? Most of our hippies live a long way north of Sydney where it’s almost the tropics. I’m surprised his blood was able to flow through to his toes. You’d think he’d have severe frostbite. But each to his own I guess xx

  9. Jackie Says:

    You have no idea How many times I’ve wanted to run out to do errands in my sandals, and I would but I really dont want all the stares and questions….so I dont (except out too the mailbox). I think It’s great that Randy grills in the winter, even better he uses a charcoal grill…. those brats and kabobs look amazing 🙂

    • Oh, yes, I thought of you when I wrote this post, Jackie, but didn’t think you actually would wear sandals in winter. Except to the mailbox. Channeling your inner hippie, right?

      Randy loves to grill and I am quite appreciative as it gives me a break from cooking.

  10. Thread crazy Says:

    Umm, grilled bratwurst – love it. We do a lot of grilling here but with the cold weather this year, the gas grill just takes too long!

  11. Carstens Says:

    The Tibetan Buddhist monks in my neighborhood are routinely barefoot year round. It always makes me smile and to gives me a sense of proportion on the weather. If these gentlemen can smile and wave while barefoot on ice, I can certainly summon some warmth and friendliness towards others regardless of temperatures.

  12. Someday you need to travel to Eugene, OR. Talk about hippies. There’s even something called the “county fair”, I think it is, where clothing is optional – never mind just socks – anything at all! Ah, Eugene. Gotta love it.

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