Digital Mike: Cheers to the shiny lights and beverages of the season

December 22, 2018

Saddle up! It’s time to enjoy the season — I hope you’ve already been doing it. I’m coming off a fun weekend visit to La Crosse, Wis., where I enjoyed Christmas lights and some of the city’s breweries. So here are some sites to help you perhaps enjoy both topics closer to home in Minnesota.


This seems like a well cared-for site that takes the time to track down whether home light displays are still up in the current year. The Internet is rife with listings, but you might find that many aren’t verified or there might be comments about the people no longer displaying or who have moved. So give this one a look. It’s heavy on the Twin Cities, but it will give you some options to go do your own light tour. Maybe even start up a helpful website for next year. Enjoy!


Home displays

This is a good site again with more focus on the Twin Cities addresses, but I like that it’s noted when they have verified addresses. There are some good sites listed, so take a look and enjoy.


Santa Tracker

This is the gold standard of tracking Santa. I’ve found other sites, but the good folks who do the NORAD tracker have a great history and have stepped up their site each year. Don’t know the story? It all started with a wrong number and blossomed from there. Give this a look whether you believe, whether you’re young or old. It’s fun.


Best beers

You should be able to Google many best beer lists of the year or even the holiday brews. With the ever-changing brewery world, those lists are a pleasant mix of new items each year. Here’s a good list from Bloomberg on this year’s best brews. I’m not certain you’ll find many in our stores, but you might. Or get to know your liquor store owner or manager. They’re always looking for good finds that customers will appreciate. Use this as a guiding document or create your own.


In stores

My previous item might have foreshadowed why I like this Men’s Journal list of best beers. It’s the one where you can find them in stores. That is the challenge. I’m all for visiting craft breweries and really enjoy the exploration. My wife is a good sport and comes along to provide a contrast to my taste for porters and stouts. But I also like to tote home tasty brews. Use this list as a guide and a conversation-starter with your own store’s manager.


Better brews?

Here’s a more complex list and one I found fascinating to read as I embarked on learning more about various breweries around our great United States. Give them a read. It might also provide a guide for your travels. It’s a delight to find a local brewery in a place you’re visiting or overnighting en route elsewhere. Give it a read.


Brewery density

I liked this mapping as I continue to worry about how many breweries are too many. I have faith that good beer-makers who combo up good business plans and promotion will survive and thrive. But take a look at the density of breweries. Minnesota and our neighbors aren’t the top tier, but most of those go to states below 1 million people or just into 1 million. However, the great states of Colorado and Oregon show why they have so many good brew makers.


Advent reflections

What’s the reason for all this saturation of Christmas celebration? I’m such a fan of Advent reflections. They keep me on track, reflective of why we hold Dec. 25 so special and thankful for the chance to worship and be grateful. Here’s one of my picks for the last few days before Christmas. You may have your own, but if you don’t, give this one a try for a few days to see how it might shade your approach to Christmas. I hope it’s a shiny one. Rejoice!


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