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True brew in the Twin Cities

Craft breweries are popping up all over, offering taprooms, music and food trucks.

Bad Weather brewery.

© Madeleine Ringham

Bad Weather's taproom is on West Seventh Street, not far from downtown St. Paul.

It used to be that rebellious young men started garage bands. Now, they're starting garage breweries.

Miller and Bud may rule the beer world, but craft brewers are its rock stars. At first, they made their own, getting supplies from St. Paul's Northern Brewer (“Good beer is your right'').

Then, they started real breweries with names like Surly (“the anger fueled by the inability to find good beers'') and Flat Earth (“Join the movement against the reign of watered-down domestics'').

Summit Brewing has supplied the Twin Cities with good beer since 1986. But in 2006, Surly led a second, edgier wave of microbreweries that stirred the pot with heaps of hops, exotic malts and beers named Furious, Abrasive and Cynic.

The fans who loved them became known as Surly Nation and pushed the so-called "Surly bill,'' which passed in 2011 and allows Minnesota breweries to sell their own beer on the premises.

Now, the rebels are going mainstream, offering tours as well as tap rooms.

Breweries are popping up all over the Twin Cities; now, nearly every neighborhood has one. 

But the Twin Cities are nowhere near the saturation point for microbreweries; Minnesota is only 16th in the nation in craft beer produced per capita.

And the craft-beer segment of the U.S. market still is tiny, though growing.

"Ninety-five percent of people don't know any better, or they're scared of craft beer,'' says Broc Krekelberg of Badger Hill Brewing. "But once they try it, they say, 'Holy buckets, that's pretty good.' ''

Visiting the breweries

Two companies offer organized van tours, with a different slate of breweries each day: Hoppy Trolley Craft Brewery Tours and Bitter Minnesota.

Cans of Surly beer.

© Sean U.

In a break from craft tradition, Surly sells its beers in cans.

MnBeer.com keeps a current list of Minnesota breweries.

The breweries below have taprooms. Many are open Wednesday-Saturday. Some offer tours.

Many small breweries sell their beer in refillable 64-ounce glass jugs called growlers.

Don't forget to bring identification; some breweries ID everyone, regardless of age.

Able Seedhouse & Brewery in Minneapolis. This farm-to-taproom brewery in northeast Minneapolis uses locally grown grains and malts onsite.

Bad Weather Brewing in St. Paul. Not far from downtown on West Seventh Street, it has a taproom and schedules food trucks, trivia and music.

Badger Hill Brewing in Shakopee. This brewery and taproom is between Canterbury Park and Valleyfair in this southwest Minneapolis suburb. It also offers half-pints, flights and sodas.

Bald Man Brewing in Eagan. The taproom in this suburb south of St. Paul has a patio and is across the street from the Twin Cities Premium Outlets.

Bang Brewing in St. Paul. This tiny brewery is in a grain bin next to train tracks in the University-Raymond neighborhood, near Urban Growler Brewing.

Bauhaus Brew Labs in Minneapolis. Named after a German modernist design style, this brewery is in northeast Minneapolis and features live music and food trucks.

Big Wood Brewery in White Bear Lake. This brewery is three blocks from the lake in this northern St. Paul suburb. The wood-paneled taproom is open Wednesday through Saturday, and free tours are given Friday and Saturday.

Boom Island Brewing Co. in Minneapolis. This brewery off Broadway Avenue in north Minneapolis, across the Mississippi River from Boom Island Park, specializes in Belgian-style beers. 

Burning Brothers Brewing in St. Paul. This brewery in the Midway neighborhood, not far from Bang and Urban Growler, makes gluten-free beer.

Lucid Brewing tour in Minnetonka.

© Beth Gauper

In Minnetonka, Jon Messier gives a tour at Lucid Brewing.

Clockwerks Brewing in Minneapolis. This downtown brewery specializes in European styles of session beers and has a large taproom and small kitchen.

Dangerous Man Brewing in Minneapolis. This brewery in northeast Minneapolis, just four blocks from the old Grain Belt Brewery, has a tap room that's open Thursday through Saturday. It serves craft sodas as well as craft beer.

It's in a small business area that includes restaurants, so customers can bring their own food.

Eastlake Brewery in Minneapolis. This brewery and taproom is in one corner of the Midtown Global Market on Lake Street, with many excellent food choices a few steps away.

Excelsior Brewing in Excelsior. In this southwest suburb of Minneapolis, a former resort town on Lake Minnetonka, the brewery's tap room is open Thursday through Saturday, and tours are given on Saturday.

For more, see Cruising around Excelsior.

Flat Earth Brewing Co. in St. Paul. This brewery occupies part of the old Hamm's Brewery, off Minnehaha Avenue on the East Side.

It sells growlers Monday through Saturday and also offers occasional tours and public tasting events.

Fulton Brewing in Minneapolis. This Warehouse District brewery is a stone's throw from Target Field, which sells its Sweet Child of Vine IPA. It has a tap room with attendant food trucks. It offers tours on Saturdays.

Harriet Brewing in Minneapolis. This brewery is in the Longfellow neighborhood, two blocks east of the Lake Street light-rail station.

It offers tours Wednesdays and Saturdays, and on weekends it offers live music and food trucks at its tap room.

Inbound Brewco in Minneapolis. This large brewery is just north of Target Field and includes a patio, event-meeting space and live-music stage.

Indeed Brewing in Minneapolis. This brewery in the Logan Park neighborhood of northeast Minneapolis has a handsome tap room and outdoor patio. It's open Thursday-Saturday, with a rotating schedule of food trucks.

Lake Monster's building in St. Paul.

© Madeleine Ringham

Lake Monster's brewery is a popular stop off the Green Line through St. Paul.

Insight Brewing in Minneapolis. This brewery on East Hennepin Avenue, in the Como neighborhood west of Minnesota 280, has a taproom with a rotating schedule of food trucks.

Lake Monster Brewing in St. Paul. This brewery has a taproom on Vandalia Street off University Avenue, between I-94 and the Green Line train.

Lift Bridge Brewing in Stillwater. This brewery, just north of Minnesota 36 off Washington Avenue, offers tours on Saturdays. 

Maple Island Brewing in Stillwater. This downtown brewery and taproom, in an old creamery building with a patio overlooking the St. Croix River, offers flights and free popcorn.

The town is a popular day-trip destination; for more, see Summer in Stillwater.

Modist Brewing in Minneapolis. This North Loop brewery has a patio, lounge and education station for sampling and descriptions of the beer.

Pryes Brewing in Minneapolis. This downtown brewery is on the Mississippi River just north of the Plymouth Avenue bridge and has a full kitchen.

612 Brew in Minneapolis. This brewery at Broadway and Central in northeast Minneapolis has a taproom that's open Wednesday through Saturday. Food trucks provide food.

Steel Toe Brewing in St. Louis Park. The brewery in this suburb just west of Minneapolis, in the southeast corner of the junction of highways 100 and 7, has a tap room and offers weekend tours.

A row of microbrews.


Summit Brewing in St. Paul. This pioneering brewery and relative behemoth is in the West Seventh area. It has a beer hall and gift shop and offers tours.

Surly Brewing in Minneapolis. The brewery that paved the way for taprooms in the city has its own brewery off University Avenue, near the Prospect Park stop of Green Line trains.

It has a large beer hall downstairs that offers a full menu of food, the Brewer's Table restaurant upstairs and patios with fire pits outdoors. Tours also are offered.

Tin Whiskers in St. Paul. This downtown brewery is in a 1916 shoe factory that was converted for use by artists. The taproom doesn't serve food, but the building also houses several restaurants.

Urban Growler in St. Paul. This women-owned brewery has a taproom and beer garden in the University-Raymond neighborhood, near Bang Brewing. It also serves sandwiches, a salad and a few appetizers.

Utepils Brewing in Minneapolis. This brewery in the Bryn Mawr neighborhood of north Minneapolis has a large taproom and beer garden with visiting food trucks and uses water from the historic Glenwood Spring. Its name is Norwegian for "the first beer enjoyed in sunshine after a long winter." 

Wabasha Brewing in St. Paul. This brewery, across the Wabasha Bridge from downtown St. Paul, has a small taproom and visiting food trucks.

Wicked Wort Brewing in Robbinsdale. This small brewery in a Minneapolis suburb has a taproom and dog-friendly patio.

Wild Mind Artisan Ales in Minneapolis. This brewery in far south Minneapolis specializes in sour and saison beers made with wild local yeast. It has a large patio as well as tasting room and schedules trivia, comedy, music and food trucks.

Wooden Hill in Edina. The brewery in this affluent Minneapolis suburb has a large taproom and its own kitchen, where it prepares sandwiches and flatbread pizza.

Twin Cities beer festivals

MnBeer.com lists Minnesota beer events. The Minnesota Craft Brewer's Guild sponsors winter, summer and fall festivals.

February,  Minnesota Craft Brewer's Guild Winterfest in St. Paul at the Minnesota History Center. Tickets go on sale in early December, and the 700 tickets sell almost instantaneously.

June, Summer Beer Fest in St. Paul. Beer from more than 70 breweries are available at this festival in the International Bazaar area of the Minnesota State Fairgrounds.

August, Summer Beer Dabbler in St. Paul. This festival, held at CHS Field in Lowertown, features beers from more than 70 local, regional and national breweries.

September, Autumn Brew Review in Minneapolis. The Minnesota Craft Brewers Guild sponsors this festival at the old Grain Belt Brewery in northeast Minneapolis. Tickets go on sale in July and sell out quickly.

Brewery tours elsewhere

For information about brewery tours in Milwaukee, see Mad about brew.

For more about other tours, see Road trip: Breweries of southern Wisconsin.

For more about Schell's and Bock Fest in New Ulm, see A German Mardi Gras and Where the Germans are.

Last updated on April 16, 2018