I have spent a disproportionate amount of my life in three cities: my home town, Redlands, California; Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; and Duluth, Minnesota. "Disproportionate" in terms of these cities' esteem in the world's eyes. No one asks you why you are living in Washington DC or Tokyo -- although they probably should. But Duluth?

I love these three cities. Redlands, for obvious reasons of sentimentality and intrinsic beauty. (And less obvious ones, like its newly chic bed and breakfast industry.) Kuala Lumpur, because my family spent two wonderful years there in a colonial rubber-planter's bungalow that now sits in the shadow of the 88-story Petronas Towers. It's just off to the right in this picture. And Duluth for a long list of reasons. The grand homes built during its golden era as a grain-and-minerals port, and now heartbreakingly cheap. The long, beautiful walkway built along Lake Superior, for running or walking, and the similar lakeside course for an annual summer marathon. The outdoor life. The culture (yes! including an outstanding symphony orchestra I saw this evening, thanks to my friend Ian Bentley). The most innovative and successful small aircraft company in the world, Cirrus Design. A sense of, well, niceness among the people that can be unnerving to those not from the midwest.

But here are two more immediate and beer-related lowbrow reasons: Fitger's brewery and hotel, with a view over the lake; and a small liquor store with as broad a range of good beers from small breweries as I can remember seeing. But I can't find its name on a web site now! I will check it out. This is a very nice city. (The weather, of course, is a different matter.)