During a recent trip to the Twin Cities, I was on the hunt for some Oktoberfest beers. One place that I found in south suburban Burnsville was a place called Blue Max Liquors. The sign out front says, "Over 1100 beers and over 300 single malts." Oooo... I couldn't wait to get inside.
Tom and Diane Pilney are the owners of Blue Max Liquors, which has been in business for over 30 years. It's located in a small shopping area near where I-35W and I-35E split off in the southern part of the Twin Cities (see map). As soon as I walked into the place, I was in beer and Scotch heaven. First of all, Tom Pilney has a collection of Springbank whisky on display. Springbank is Scotland's oldest family owned distillery and they put out some of the best Scotch there is on the planet. Blue Max Liquors had some Springbank collectibles - special run Scotch that some call priceless. And they weren't for sale. I was overly impressed.
Their selection of Scotch just made my mouth water. They had TONS of different types of Scotch. They had everything - Maccallan, Laphroaig, Glenlivet, Glenmorangie, Glenfiddich. I must have spent 20 minutes just looking at all the Scotch they had. I was just absolutely blown away.
But I'd come in for beer and not really Scotch (although I did pick up a bottle of Talisker 10 year at a pretty good price of $44.95). I was even more impressed with the beer selection. I have to say that they have at least one of everything that is available from all the area distributors. I mean, they had their beer sectioned off by countries! I was in beer heaven!
I found August Schell Octoberfest, Summit Oktoberfest, and Lake Superior Oktoberfest. I found something called Brau Brothers Scotch Ale. I had to try that. And to my pleasant surprise, I found some Full Sail pale ale. I first had Full Sail on my first trip to the Pacific Northwest a couple years ago. Their pale ale is outstanding. My only wish is that Alaskan beer would be available in Minnesota. That would make my world complete.
I grabbed about three cases of assorted beers and took them up to the counter along with my bottle of Scotch. The guy at the register said, "Looks like you're stocking up!"
I said, "I'm from Iowa and I can't get a lot of these Oktoberfest beers down there. This is what I like about Fall. Oktoberfest beers."
He said, "Well, I hope that we had enough for you. Looks like we did!"
He was telling me that he gets a lot of people from Iowa that come in and fill up their trunks with beer. "We're so close to the I-35 split that it's easy to get here for people on their way back to Iowa, he said. "I just had a guy in here yesterday from Iowa. He got a bunch of beer."
The guy helped me carry the beer out to the car. I told him he didn't need to do that, but he insisted. "Part of the service," he explained.
Blue Max Liquors has just made it into my Top Ten of best place to hunt for beer. Great selection, great prices, great service. I was overly impressed. And it will be a must to stop there on my future trips to the Twin Cities.