Since this is the last weekend before The Thirsty Pagan closes temporarily for its big move, I had to get the current location in for the "Every bar in Superior" series. It may well be the only one that gets two entries.
I am a huge fan of both their pizzas and their beer. "I'll be bock" is, for my money, the best name for a beer that I have ever seen. I love this location and the newly restored Soo Line building is going to be even better.
I have one complaint and one complaint only about TPB. They call their pizzas za's. To my ear, it sounds like a dad who's trying way too hard to be hip in front of his teenage kids' friends, drawing a collective eye roll in the way only obnoxious children of a certain age can manage. "Hey fam, I hope you're hungry for some za's because this shiznit is on the fleek ya heard?" And the kids are all thinking, "He's being embarrassingly stupid here, but at least there's pizza involved."
Also, the apostrophe is in completely the wrong place. An apostrophe connotes either possession or the contraction of a word. Think "of the clock" shortened to "o'clock," or "the pizzas that belong to Jeff" as "Jeff's pizzas." There is no s at the other side of the apostrophe and there is nothing on the menu that indicates something belongs to the pizzas. So the apostrophe there serves no purpose. The word is shortened, but then we should see it written as 'za. The menu has a paper insert for periodic specialties, and this errant punctuation is consistent. Somebody's doing this on purpose or no one has bothered to correct them.
My parents were in town a few weeks ago, and I brought them to the Thirsty Pagan. With no prompting from me whatsoever, my mom looks at the menu and says, "What the heck is a ZA?" "It's short for pizza." "Well then shouldn't the apostrophe be on the other side?"
|What the heck is a za?|
What can I say? I am my mother's son.
But if the only downside to a place is the menu punctuation, I say go with it. Now, on to the three questions.
Why is this place called the Thirsty Pagan?
TPB was the first craft brewery in Superior, all the way back in 1996, then called Twin Ports Brewing. (The brewery was called that, not the city. I think.) The company went under new ownership, but getting the rights to use that name was not entirely possible. So the new owners wanted to keep the same initials but come up with a different name. The staff served as a focus group of sorts and Thirsty Pagan Brewing won out as the best name.
Is there anything about the building or the business that's a bit of untold history?
I could go into detail about how TPB did craft brewing before anyone else in Superior, and the next time the place gets covered, it'll have a rundown on the restored digs at the new location. For now, the history is much more personal. It was at the Thirsty Pagan that I first decided I wanted to move to Superior. Some friends had moved here a year or two prior, so I began visiting the town and doing more than just stopping at a Subway while going from Minneapolis to Upper Michigan. I came up to celebrate a birthday, and we had some beer and za'. I met new friends and connected with old ones, and since I didn't see the menu at the time, I thoroughly enjoyed myself. I left the next morning feeling like I was drawn to Superior, and ever since then I started looking for ways to move here. If Superior were a significant other, and you asked, "When did you just know you were meant to be together?" I'd trace that back to the night at TPB.
Is there a specialty drink or menu item?
The beers rotate out, and so do the pizzas. I tend to stick with the same beer because I get to order it in an "Ahh-nold" accent and that's awesome. And then I usually try the za' du jour. I've had a potsticker pizza, a shepherd's pie za', and most recently a jalapeño popper pie. Those have all been great, although I put corn and not peas in my shepherd's pie.
"Last Dance with Mary Jane" running tally: 0. There's no jukebox. Live music is a staple, and a sign instructs patrons to not request several songs. Among them are "Freebird," and "Stairway to Heaven," but this song is not yet prohibited. So there's hope.