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Monday, January 23, 2012

Review: The Thirsty Pagan, Superior WI

We initially went to this brew pub to taste some interesting beer and to purchase t-shirts because of the very unusual name. But you can't help but be drawn in by the amazing food and funky vibe of the place.
I was referred here by a member of the women's beer brewing club I belong to, who raved about the craft beer and the pizza. But, we were staying in Duluth, so we had planned to just stop, grab a pint or two, and head back over closer to our hotel for dinner. I am so happy we decided not to do that !

The Thirsty Pagan is well known in the Duluth/Superior area for their pan style pizzas, and interesting craft beer. We sampled several of the beers, as well as some of the food, and were very impressed with the simple, yet creative twist on a "beer and pizza" pub.

First let's talk beer. Thirsty Pagan has several house brews that are always available, as well as some seasonals, and a hand pump that changes periodically. We sampled the Capitalist Pig Russian Imperial Stout and Kick Your Own Ass IPA, both of which were seasonals. The Russian Imperial Stout was a rich, robust stout with a good mouth feel. And drinkable enough that you could have more than one. The Kick Your Own Ass IPA was not as hoppy as some I have tried, but was well balanced with the malt. But I love a good hoppy beer, and I was not disappointed with the India Pagan Ale, which is one of the house brews. It is a nice West Coast IPA, hoppy but not overly so, and I liked it enough to get a growler to go.

There is just a feeling you get from the Thirsty Pagan that makes you want to stay, and hang out with the locals. And the management at this place is feeling comfortable enough in the industrial town to introduce specials onto the menu like an African Peanut Stew, which they unfortunately had run out of by the time we arrived.
We decided to try the pub pretzel, which is served with a bright, zesty mustard sauce. It is a perfect compliment to the India Pagan Ale, I could have eaten the mustard sauce with a spoon ! There are several options for pizza, some specialty pizzas as well as a build your own option. We chose a Pizza Diane, which had a pesto sauce, spinach, cherry tomatoes, chicken, feta cheese and loads of mozzarella. These are enormous pan pizzas. We ordered a medium, because my husband says "I don't want to overeat." We couldn't finish it, the portions are so generous. The crust is perfect, crispy on the bottom and still a bit chewy in the middle. Really, an excellent pan pizza, which are not normally my thing, but I LOVED this one.

We were there for an early dinner, and the place was packed with a mixture of families, and the happy hour crowd. The music even started early, so we were able to enjoy the whole package of local flavor. With their huge collection of vintage beer signs decorating the entire place,cheerful and effficient staff the Thirsty Pagan is definitely an experience not to be missed. We will definitely be back...many, many times. Thanks to the manager Steve for stopping by as well, and completing our introduction to this really spectacular pub.

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