Recently I was lucky enough to spend a long weekend in the Minneapolis/ St. Paul area to attend the Northern Lights Rare Beer Fest. While the festival was certainly a blast, the beauty of the Twin Cities is that you can visit any time and experience world class beer.
There are so many bars and breweries in the area. From intimate neighborhood bars to the modern (and huge) new Surly facility, there is truly something for everyone. I saw a little bit of everything, and took notes to share with you. Here are my thoughts on a few places to go…
Town Hall Brewery, www.townhallbrewery.com
Downtown Minneapolis brewpub with above average food choices and good beer. Town Hall produces it’s own beer and maintains a few guest taps. The whiskey selection is a nice bonus. Great place to stop during happy hour for a beer and appetizer. Try their Masala Mama IPA.
Lake Monster Brewing, www.lakemonsterbrewing.com
St. Paul brewery located under a water tower. This newer brewery is starting out with a hip-feeling facility and a line-up of solid beers. If you are in the mood for food, there is usually a food truck right outside. I enjoyed the Empty Rowboat IPA.
Wicked Wort Brewing Comapany,www.wickedwortbrewingco.com
This brewery in Robbinsdale is unique in that all the beer seems to be lower abv. The Geno Stout was solid, and only 3.6% (really!). The tap room has bit of a night club feel, which I did not enjoy. If you are having dinner nearby at Travail, it is worth stopping in for a quick drink.
Surly Brewing Company, www.surlybrewing.com
Modern and shiny, Surly’s new Minneapolis facility is absolutely huge. There is a downstairs beer hall featuring 20+ taps, an upstairs Brewer’s Table restaurant, and over an acre of outdoor space to hang out with your beer. If you are the type that likes brewery merchandise, the store is well stocked with lots of cool gear. Try any beer that appeals to you, it’s all good.
Indeed Brewing, www.indeedbrewing.com
This brewery is home to one of my favorite Minneapolis beers, Let It Ride IPA. The taproom is fairly small, the service was great and felt personal. Taps change frequently, try the Wooden Soul series if you get a chance.
Able Seedhouse + Brewery, www.ablebeer.com
It’s simply cool. The Minneapolis tap room has a clean, hip vibe that somehow still feels warm and welcoming. The beer is good, really good, especially the Blk Wlf stout that I was able to try. If I hadn’t been to two other breweries before this, I could have spent the whole evening here. Dogs and kids are welcome (kids until 9pm, but the dogs can stay late).
Dangerous Man Brewing, www.dangerousmanbrewing.com
Located in NE Minneapolis, this brewery was the surprise of the trip. This taproom has the feel of a neighborhood bar and the beer of a great brewery. If you don’t want beer they have cold press coffee on nitro, soda, and Kombucha too. The Big Watt Coffee Porter was my favorite, but mad props to the Black Kolsch and Calypso’s Promise IPA. Go around back to the growler shop for a crowler or three to go. You will want more later.
The Happy Gnome, www.thehappygnome.com
Located in the Cathedral Hill area of St. Paul, this refined neighborhood bar is usually packed with good reason. With 89 craft drafts, you are bound to find something you like. It has an upscale food menu to compliment your beer choices. I enjoyed the steak tartare and ramen bowl. They hold lots of beer events and even host weddings too.
Many thanks to my friend Ben, the “beer guy” at Lakeridge Liquors in Vadnais Heights for showing me around his hometown. You can find him @Ben_TheBeerGuy on twitter if you’d like to learn more about Minnesota beers.