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Maybe I died and went to heaven

By Staff | Mar 2, 2014

I just can’t wait for summer.

Oh, I know what you are thinking. Here goes another person whining about the long, cold, snowy winter. The worst winter ever.

Nope. The truth of the matter is, as a native Southern Californian, born and raised in San Diego, I am pretty much tired of winter by about Thanksgiving every year.

Actually, I want it to be summer for another reason.

I want to be able to sit out on my new patio, sipping on an ice-cold beer from Blue Earth’s new Oswald Brewery Company, while munching on some five-pepper cheese curds from Blue Earth’s new Crazy Cow Creamery and enjoying an award-winning teriyaki beef stick from Blue Earth Locker. All the while grilling up some award-winning brats from that same BE Locker.

Tell me, what could be better?

I have to wait to do this until summer arrives. There are several reasons for that.

First, my patio is under three feet of snow. Second, it is hard to enjoy an ice cold beer when the temperature outside is below zero and your beer can be so ice-cold it freezes solid.

The other problem is Oswald brewery isn’t going to open up until Memorial Day anyway. So we have some time to let the snow melt and the temperature warm up to patio enjoying warmth and that could very well take until Memorial Day this year.

But just think of it.

Beef sticks, jerky, brats, jalapeno cheese curds and quality beer with flavor, not that Miller or Bud product which passes as beer. Perhaps I died and went to heaven. No, I’m just lucky to live in a city which will soon have a meat locker, creamery and brewery.

I have written before in this column space about the fact there once was a brewery in Blue Earth, as there were in many small towns across America.

Here it was the Fleckenstein Brewery which was located practically in my backyard, at the corner of Nicollet and 10th Street (which at the time was known as Douglas, not 10th.)

The Fleckenstein Brewery operated in Blue Earth from about 1860 to 1902. There was also a Fleckenstein Brewery in Faribault (the city). When one is looking for information, or possibly memorabilia from the Fleckenstein Brewery, a person has to be careful it isn’t connected to the one in that other Minnesota Faribault locale.

The Blue Earth brewery had started out as the Schimek Brewery.

It seems one of Fleckensteins from the city of Faribault moved to Blue Earth, married brewer Schimek’s daughter and renamed the brewery with his own last name when he took it over.

But, like the original Kato Brewery in Mankato and many other localized brands, it went away.

Much the same story can be said of creameries.

Once upon a time, every small town had one. In fact, every township or even crossroads in the middle of nowhere had one. After all, didn’t every farmer have a small herd of milking cows and some pigs and chickens.

A little research reveals there once were 22 creameries all operating at the same time in Faribault County. They bought raw milk and separated cream from all the local farmers and sold milk and dairy products to the public.

The creameries in the county started as early as the 1880s. Most of them quit operation by the 1930s to 1950s. The last ones in Faribault County ceased doing business by the 1970s.

The typical brick buildings were converted into homes, meat locker plants or storage facilities. The one in Winnebago became a meat locker. In Blue Earth it became a laundry and dry cleaner. In Bricelyn it was turned into a home.

But, for 40 years there hasn’t been a creamery in the county. Until now.

With the opening of the Crazy Cow Creamery in the former Food and Fuel Mart building, located directly in front of the Green Giant statue and Giant Park, we can claim an operating creamery is here, taking milk and turning it into cheese, butter and ice cream.

Iowa farmer Bruce Meinders is starting off slow, offering only a few cheese products including cheese curds and will work into making butter and ice cream more later. And he will be open very limited hours for now; just Fridays from 3 to 6 p.m.

My prediction is, when summer comes and the tens of thousands of visitors show up to have their pictures taken with the Giant, he might have a run on those cheese curds and ice cream.

I just hope there is a little left for me to enjoy on my patio with that ice-cold Blue Earth brew.