DULUTH — Greetings to everyone. I’m continuing my very grateful and optimistic attitude on the backside of the pandemic. I hope you are all doing well, and I encourage discourse on our returning to pre-pandemic interactions.

So, this week I would like to talk about a brief trip my family took over the Fourth of July weekend. The fourth happens to be my birthday and, for many years, I have enjoyed our country's birthday and my own. That being said, it’s traditionally a fun time for most of us.

For many years, our family has traveled to Madeline Island in Wisconsin, and this year, I really felt that it was a time to enjoy the simple pleasure of a pint of beer with friends and loved ones. As summer hits, the beers are amazing: hefeweizens, shandies, nice German-style lagers and, of course, wonderful hop-forward beers.

One highlight of the weekend was the return of hugs! I cannot say enough how much I appreciate getting wrapped up in a warm embrace; it has been too long, clearly, so a great beer and a great hug — not too many better things, to my way of thinking.

A quick internet search explained it further: Oxytocin is often called the “love hormone,” and it's released when we cuddle or bond. It's the reason why being hugged feels so good. So, when you're feeling down, give someone a squeeze and feel your mood lift.

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Madeline Island was in full Fourth of July mode this year. The weather was great, people were excited to be out, and it felt great. The ferry personnel were saying that it felt like 2019, and the long lines of cars getting on the ferry supported those comments.

At the brewery, and especially in our regular lives, we have dealt with cancellations of birthday parties, weddings, graduation parties, grooms’ dinners, confirmations and many more celebrations. I’m so happy to report that all these joyous events are returning at a furious pace. For all of us, it makes me very happy to see folks getting together again.

So, that being mentioned, I would like to highlight some beers for events that we are getting back into.

Graduations

  • Light beers that are low in alcohol and manageable.
  • Fruit beers, fun and tasty, a nice alternative to wine.

Weddings and reception dinners

  • Hoppy beers for the enthusiasts of craft beer (we appreciate you very much).
  • Classic styles, such as brown ale, stout, porter, session ales.

Birthday parties

  • I’m a fan of craft-brewed sodas and mild ales for these events, ideally served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream (the beer is poured over the top). It's very tasty and pretty fun.
  • Beermosas, blending orange juice with either an IPA or Mexican lager. Highly recommended.

Picnic by the lake

  • A classic that needs no introduction. Pale ale is my pick for this timeless event. Pick a good one from our many local breweries and have a great time.

Dave Hoops lives and works in Duluth and is a veteran brewer and beer judge. Write to him at dave@hoopsbrewing.com.