Four Stars: A Snowstorm is brewing in New Ulm, headed this way

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Kyle Brink, cook and back-of-house manager at the Lost Cajun, demonstrates the proper technique for deep-frying a beignet. Tip: Splash a little oil on the top of the square dough to get it to puff up.

The August Schell Brewery in New Ulm is celebrating winter with another Snowstorm.

For 20 years, the state's oldest brewery has been cooking up a winter beer called Snowstorm, with a different recipe each year. The 2014 concoction is a hearty, hoppy copper-red Grand Cru , and it's one of the better Schell's brews I've had. It's fuller-bodied and more complex, with hints of coriander and citrus.

Some Schell's beers are too light and fizzy for me, but this one is well put-together, with Red Wheat, a relatively new malt called Red X, along with Special Roast and Light Chocolate malts, balanced out with 20 IBU Opal and Cascade hops. It also has a slightly higher alcohol content, at 6.5 percent. Hard-core craft beer drinkers will want to know that it's brought to life with a Belgian yeast called Forbidden Fruit.

It's only available now through the holidays, so don't wait for Santa to slide a six-pack under your tree.

One more Schell's beer that's out there at this time of year is Chimney Sweep , a chewy black lager that looks great in a glass when everything's white outside the living room window. It's definitely heavier and packed with a half-dozen malts, including Smoked and Chocolate, but the bittering hops lighten it up -- it's a surprising 31 IBUs -- and it's definitely a lager, not a stout, so it's less filling. You'll still be able to shovel the driveway comfortably after enjoying a bottle of Chimney Sweep.


Schell's, which has made beer in Minnesota since before the Civil War, is trying to get more traction with craft beer drinkers, and if they keep putting out more aggressive, complex brews like Grand Cru and Fresh Hop, it'll happen.

Find oysters at Lost Cajun

After last week's ode to oysters in this column, Theresa Peplinskiof the Lost Cajun restaurant, the New Orleans-themed franchise at 2025 S. Broadway, sent this pearl of wisdom about area oyster options:

"Our oysters aren't fancy, but they are quite tasty and on the menu every day. We have fried oysters served as a side, an oyster platter as part of a seafood platter, and an oyster Po' Boy -- my personal favorite way to eat them. They're marinated, dredged in corn flour and fried to perfection. Come in and try them, and then you'll have more oysters to write about."

That was enough for me -- I jumped in the truck and drove to the Lost Cajun, where cook Kyle Brinkwhipped up a batch of fried oysters, which were juicy and tender, with a crisp corn-flour batter, and he added half an oyster Po' Boy on the side.

"We sell three times as many oysters as any of the other restaurants do," says Theresa's husband, Joe, who's 54 and worked for 28 years at IBM before getting into the Cajun food business. Typically, they're West Coast oysters, small enough to deep-fry easily but big enough not to get lost in the batter.

Rochester also loves beignets , dusted up in a cloud of powdered sugar, and the Voo Doo Pasta, which is peppery pasta with andouille sausage and shrimp. As I told Joe, I'm planning a Four Stars column in February on Mardi Gras food, and I'll definitely keep their jambalaya in mind.

You can get family-size takeouts of Cajun classics, including gallon-size portions of seafood gumbo and crawfish etouffee. Call Joe at 258-5192, and he'll fix you up, and expect a big friendly hi from manager Amber Bacon.

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