Beers, Bites, Buddies, and the Bitter Cold

Everyone has their own idea of a good time.  In Minnesota, some hearty souls even think that fishing… in a metal shack… in the middle of a giant frozen lake… surrounded by -15 degree bone-chilling air… is “fun.” 

I was honored to be invited to my coworker Andrew’s ice house on Lake Mille Lacs, affectionately named the Silver Bullet, for our second annual ice fishing trip to experience what truly is fun (without quotes).  Joining Andrew and I were current and former coworkers Jim and Jon (who flew from Pittsburgh).  Fishing is a barely veiled excuse for a get together of friends and beer snobs.

While ice fishing isn’t an Olympic sport yet, I’m going to break down our performance a la Bob Costas in four individual point categories:  Food, Beverage, Sport, and Sportsmanship.

Food: 9/10  A typical ice fishing meal plan would consist of jerky, chips, and lots of pick-your-light-beer-of-choice.  That’s basically what we had, but with homemade curry-spiced jerky, cranberry rye crackers, Moroccan-spiced cheese, and some of the best beers in the world.  While still amazing, I’m deducting a point because I miss the herbes de provence-dusted popcorn from last year.

Beverage: 10/10  We brought more than 50 awesome beers for the weekend, but got nowhere close to drinking them all.  Despite some stiff competition, the best beers were:  Gouden Carolus Tripel 2012 & 2013 (a beer vertical!), Surly Syx (cellared for a year), New Glarus Serendipity, and Goose Island Bourbon County Coffee Stout.

Sport: 2/10  Let’s be honest… we did more biting than the fish did.  We haven’t caught a single fish in two years.  I’m starting to think we should just stop drilling holes. We also lost in the great sport of meat raffling, a Northern Minnesota tradition, that took part at the local resort, Castaways. However, we did play an epic ice bocce tournament. 

Sportsmanship: 10/10  After coming back from the first round of ice bocce, we started smelling some bad fumes.  While some of the fumes were the result of the curry jerky and the resulting meat matrix, it’s clear this smell was gas or propane.   Not a good thing when you are in a 12 x 8 metal box.  No worries!  Dave, Andrew’s cousin, to the rescue.  He opened up his ice house, more like an ice palace, to us and let us sleep fume free.

I can’t wait until next year’s beer buddies on ice event.  Perhaps we will even catch a portion of our food.

Until we eat again,

Two Happy Cooks

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