Minnesota, Know Your Local Breweries

Dearest readers,

As I sit in my not-so-cubical cubicle, I think to myself, what advice/knowledge can I impart on my avid readers today? As I peruse my daily blogs and articles about beer and the like, I realize that I find myself getting excited daily (yes, daily) about the new breweries that are opening up in the Twin Cities. Here they are, in lists, for your reading pleasure. Each brewery is linked to their website,and I’ve also made some brief comments about their flagship (first and best, generally) beer and their other good beers, if they got them. I don’t know if I’ve ever said this, but I’m always open to discussion and suggestions, so although I give off this air of over-confidence with my ‘know-it-all’ attitude, tell me what you think or if I missed anything!! Also, check out this related City Pages article.

The Ones You’ve Probably Heard Of (Good for you):
1. Summit: famous for their EPA, which is delicious, but I recommend the Oatmeal Stout
2. Surly Brewing: famous for their Furious, which is delicious, but I recommend the Coffee Bender
3. August Schell (related: Grain Belt): Famous for… being from New Ulm, the most German part of Minnesota; Grainbelt is cool because I work down the street from the old brewery (they were bought by Schell in 2002, but were originally brewing in NE)
4. Finnegan’s: famous for being at all of Macalester’s SpringFests until Surly came around. Contract brewed by Summit, but a very average beer IMHO.
5. Liftbridge: famous for y’know, the Stillwater liftbridge, and beer (flagship: Farm Girl)

The Ones You Probably Haven’t Heard of (Shame on you):
1. Brau Brothers: Try the Moo Joos, it’s delicious
2. Flat Earth Brewing: The Angry Planet is the best
3. Fulton: Sweet Child of Vine is their best, and they just got their first real brewery (in Mpls near the Twins stadium!)
4. Staples Mill Brewing Company: I had the Stout of Morning Destruction the other day and it was epic — 750ml limited release bottles, and so yummy in that drunk-after-breakfast on coffee/beer/bourbon type way
5. Lake Superior: The Kayak Kolsch is my favorite, which is weird because I normally like stouts, but it’s a great summer session beer*

The Newest Ones (Get with the program):
1. Lucid Brewing: Minnetonka has a brewery now, too, say what?!
2. Harriet Brewing: I’ve had the West Side, it’s awesome, and this Friday they’re having their one year anniversary at the Blue Nile!
3. Dangerous Man: This dude is a baller; there are antiquated MN laws about having a brewery within some amount of feet of a church and unlucky for him, NE has a lot of churches and a lot of nice spaces for breweries so he’s had to fight for his right to brew, so double support him (plus, sick logo!)
4. Steel Toe: SLP representing! The Number 7 I had at Muddy Waters was fantastic, I WANT MOOOAR
5. Mankato Brewery: So, so fresh; they were recently looking for support to start up operations (again?)
6. Boom Island Brewing Company: Across the river from my work, I only just heard about them and haven’t tried any of their beers
7. Bemidji Brewing Company: Even fresher than fresh, their website is not even complete and they’re still asking for support

The Ones That I Hadn’t Even Heard Of (and don’t have opinions on, unfortunately):
1. Big Wood (Vadnais Heights, MN): The newest of the new
2. Leech Lake (Walker, MN): I’ve heard more about them recently but I don’t know how new they are
3. Olvalde (Rollingston, MN): I lied, I think I’ve actually had/heard of one of these Farmhouse Ales
4. Dubrue (Duluth, MN): Apparently all up in Duluth, I had no idea
5. Castle Danger (Two Harbors, MN): New as of March 2010, looks pretty sweet

The Ones That Don’t Really Matter But Are Still Interesting (Not craft breweries per se):
1. Cold Spring: A lot of historical significance for the MN beer scene, but generally average beer
2. Pig’s Eye Brewing Company: Gross cheap-ass beer, but still exciting because St Paul was almost called Pig’s Eye, which makes no sense — silly pioneers
3. Vine Park: Doesn’t count because it’s like homebrewing extra light; you go there, they brew for you, you call the beer your own — good for corporate parties

Brew Pubs of Note (My favorites):
1. Fitger’s (Duluth): Home of one of my favorite stouts of all time, the Big Boat Oatmeal Stout; definitely the best brewpub in Minnesota
2. Town Hall Brewery (West Bank): An awesome brew pub, great food, topical beers that they brew, and just a neat building overall
3. Herkimer’s (Uptown): Uptown’s only brewpub? I feel like I find myself here when other (better?) places are full… but still good

For more about good brew pubs, check out this article from Michael Agnew (A Perfect Pint)

A message from the MN Craft Brewer's Guild

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* (Thanks to Blackmer for bringing this up, sorry!) ‘Session Beer’: a beer that’s light/pleasant enough to drink many of in one session (ie. a beer you can drink lots of, not drink one of and feel like you ate a steak, had a milkshake, and just want to take a nap like the big baby you are. This is especially important in the summer when you’re doing a lot of session drinking and I mean, it’s summer, so you don’t want to gorge yourself on Russian Imperial Stouts for hours, if you know what I mean).

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