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Published February 19, 2011, 12:00 AM

Lamb: Coffee shops hop to it

Something different is brewing at downtown Fargo’s Atomic Coffee today. The Fargo Brewing Company hosts its second beer-tasting from 2 to 8 p.m. in the coffee shop’s meeting room.

By: John Lamb, INFORUM

If you go

  • What: Fargo Brewing Company hosts Fantastic Fe-brew-ary Fun-Fest tasting

  • When: 2-8 p.m.

  • Where: Atomic Coffee, 222 Broadway, Fargo

  • Info: Samples are free, but an ID is required.

  • Online: Follow the Fargo Brewing Company on Facebook. See the south Moorhead Atomic Coffee beer list at http://fmatomic.com.

Something different is brewing at downtown Fargo’s Atomic Coffee today.

The Fargo Brewing Company hosts its second beer-tasting from 2 to 8 p.m. in the coffee shop’s meeting room. The small samples – approximately 2 ounces – are free, though you do need to be 21 to taste, of course.

Brew master Chris Anderson and his brother John say the group will showcase its India pale ale, tentatively called “Wood-chipper,” a reference to the movie “Fargo.” They half-jokingly talk about fashioning a tap to look like a leg.

Also on tap will be a porter they call “Jag Wagon,” the name of the horse-drawn carriages that wheeled folks across the Red River to Moorhead when Fargo was dry a century ago. The group also hopes to serve a lighter, crisper American lager.

With about 10 gallons of each brew at the event and limiting the sample size, they still expect to run out before 8 p.m. As of this writing, 134 people said via Facebook that they would attend the tasting. At the company’s last tasting, about 40 people responded, and over 200 showed up.

There is a growing interest in craft beers – those from smaller breweries than the major domestics, like Budweiser, Miller and Coors. Tapping into those taste buds are coffee shops, with more and more getting the necessary licenses to sell beer. At least two area spots have a good selection of suds on tap.

At Jitter’s, 1414 12th Ave. N., across the street from North Dakota State University, the coffee shop boasts three beers. Shock Top, a Belgian white ale produced by Anheuser Busch, Drifter Pale Ale by Widmer Brothers and Bell’s Two Hearted, which has staked its reputation in the F-M market over the last year.

“It’s interesting to come into a place like this and see craft beers on tap,” says Chris Anderson, who ordered the Drifter.

He says the $3.25 drafts and $7.25 pitchers are a pretty good deal. Those deals are even better during happy hour from 7 to 9 p.m. when all beers and wines are $1 off.

Across the river at the south Moorhead Atomic Coffee, 805 30th Ave. S., beer – and wine – looks to be taking over. The spot is now called Atomic Coffee & Wine Bar.

A hand-written sign outside reads “Surly now on tap,” a reference to the Minneapolis brewer, and a placard in the window declares it a “quality beer zone” by the local Prairie Homebrewing Companions.

Prices range from $3.50 for a 10-ounce Red Chair Northwest Pale Ale to $7.50 for a pint of Hop Henge IPA, both by the Deschutes Brewery in Bend, Ore.

Chris Anderson, who works at the neighboring Bridgeview Liquors, picks the kegs and rotates them once they run out. The only standard is Surly Furious, which requires a new keg about every 10 days.

Those at that Atomic Coffee on a recent night were anything but surly or furious in disposition. One group of four had a table of empty pint glasses and loudly talked about upcoming concerts, playing videos of the bands on cell phones.

Students looking for the typical coffee shop as a quiet place to study could be in for a brewed awakening.


Readers can reach Forum reporter John Lamb at (701) 241-5533

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