Phil Platt, who I befriended at the Campus Club at the University of Minnesota, is the outgoing Executive Director of the Minnesota Craft Brewers Guild and this is his first crossword puzzle. After pitching the idea of this puzzle to Phil, I recruited my friend John Child to join the effort, and the final product reflects ideas and contributions from all three of us.
The idea of the puzzle is very simple. The name of Phil's organization is 68-Across / 104-Down. The puzzle showcases ten breweries, but all ten of them are clued in an orthogonal manner, i.e., in a way that has nothing to do with the brewery's name. As for the puzzle's title, it riffs on Minnesota's informal state motto.
Breweries mentioned in the puzzle, together with links and further explanations, are:
Please understand that there are any number of additional fine Minnesota breweries—e.g., LAKE SUPERIOR, URBAN GROWLER, NORTHBOUND, ROCKBOTTOM, BAUHAUS, BEMIDJI, INDEED, SUMMIT, LUCID, and SURLY—that we would have loved to work into the puzzle, except that the crossword symmetry rules and/or the absence of orthogonal cluing possibilities got in the way. Maybe another puzzle, in the future?!
There are additional answer words and/or clues in the puzzle that might interest or amuse its solvers. Examples include:
The timely clue for YODA is a faint echo of arguably the greatest five-word phrase to ever appear in a movie review (you'll know it when you see it!)
The BUNNY HUG was a dance craze in the early 20th century, but we clued it in a jokey fashion.
Paul Molitor currently MANAGES the Minnesota Twins. When they lose, we say "there IS_NO joy in Mudville."
The definition of CHUTZPAH is classic.
LSD is colloquially referred to as "acid," but when you look at its chemical structure, it's actually a base. Which reminds us of the Meghan Trainor hit, "All About That BASS," covered here by Kate Davis in retro-swing style. Back to chemistry, alprazolam has the trade name Xanax, but this is referred to in phonetic slang as ZAN.
From the technical point-of-view, the puzzle's high theme density led us to use a somewhat higher word count (144 words) and percentage blocks (18.1%) than the customary limits for a Sunday New York Times puzzle (respectively 140 words and 16.7%). Still, we trust you will enjoy what we've brewed for you.