128 Bottles of Beer on the Wall…

Photo: Front row: the evening’s samples. Back row: Jean Ahrends of Johnson Brothers, Fuel’s owners Kammy and Curt Nelson, and DJ Jared Wingert

Take one down and pass it around, as the song goes – or take down a few and share.

Every third Thursday of the month, Fuel hosts an alcohol tasting. On April 17, they opened 10 beers, five wines, and eight liquors to share one-ounce samples with a crowded, polite house. On June 12, a tasting at the pizza pub will feature tents from several distributors in celebration of both Festival in the Park and Fuel’s one-year anniversary.  

Fuel carries 128 beers in stock, a diverse selection one attendee happily described as “ungodly.” Among Fuel’s selection are brews from Deschutes Brewery (Oregon), North Coast (California), and Bell’s (Michigan). Every time we bring in a new beer, I sample it, because you need to be able to know what you’re talking about,” said Fuel’s co-owner Kammy Nelson, who handles the restaurant’s alcohol and pastries, while her husband, Curt, works with the restaurant’s pizza.

Later in the evening, Kammy cracked open an aptly-named bottle of Tangerine – the first beer she chose for Fuel – “a step up from summer shandy,” as a drinker described. The event brings in customers from Clarion, Belmond, Eagle Grove, and as far away as Manson. “I like the food and the service,” said one attendee. “The people are really friendly. You can hear and can take your kids.”

 In conversation, one beer enthusiast mounted a defense of the much-maligned Schlitz, sadly not available in the immediate vicinity to speak for itself. For brief reviews of beers available for sample: Red Chair tastes like “a hoppy Fat Tire” and “a red beer to me, and that’s what it is.” Shiner Ruby Redbird “tastes like a grapefruit, but it’s not overpowering.”

Jean Ahrends of Johnson Brothers distributors offered samples of the “Moscow Mule,” which mixed ginger beer with with one of four New Amsterdam-brand flavored vodkas. A customer appropriated the reporter’s notebook and returned the taste-text question, acquiring an endorsement that the mixture tasted “well-balanced [and] sweet.”

Read more in the April 24 issue of the Monitor!