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True brew in the Twin Cities

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

Cans of Surly beer.

© Sean U.

Surly was one of the first local breweries to sell its beers in cans.

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

Bud, Coors and Miller 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 tap rooms and also tours, trivia nights and food trucks. 

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

Yet the Twin Cities are nowhere near the saturation point for microbreweries; Minnesota is 13th in the nation in craft beer produced per capita.

The craft-beer segment of the U.S. market still is small, but it's 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.

Bad Weather brewery.

© Madeleine Ringham

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

MnBeer.com keeps a current list of Minnesota breweries.

The breweries below have taprooms, many open daily. 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.

With a $25 PubPass, you can get a pint of craft beer or cider at 25 breweries, pubs and restaurants.

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.

Barrel Theory in St. Paul. This Lowertown taproom has a patio and serves four-ounce pours for sampling from rotating taps.

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 and has a wood-paneled taproom.

BlackStack Brewing in St. Paul. In the industrial Midway neighborhood, this brewery is near the Green Line and in the same building as Can Can Wonderland miniature golf. It offers Monday trivia nights, food trucks and occasional concerts.

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. 

Bauhaus Brew Labs in Minneapolis.

© Madeleine Ringham

Bauhaus Brew Labs is named for the famous German design school.

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

Clockwerks Brewing in Minneapolis. This downtown brewery, near Target Field, specializes in European styles of session beers and has a large steampunk-inspired taproom and small kitchen.

Clutch Brewing in St. Paul. In the West Seventh neighborhood, this brewery occupies the mezzanine of the Keg & Case food hall, in the former Schmidt Brewery keg house.

Dangerous Man Brewing in Minneapolis. This brewery in northeast Minneapolis, just four blocks from the old Grain Belt Brewery, has a tap room and 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 taproom often holds special events and offers tours.

For more, see Cruising around Excelsior.

Fair State Brewing Cooperative in Minneapolis. This brewery in northeast Minneapolis has a taproom with 20 of its beers on tap and a large patio.

56 Brewing in Minneapolis. In northeast Minneapolis, this brewery is not far from the Mississippi, a nice stop for bicyclists on the Grand Rounds. It has a patio and offers live music and trivia.

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.

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 is just north of Minnesota 36, off Washington Avenue. 

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.

A row of microbrews.

©

612 Brew in Minneapolis. This brewery at Broadway and Central in northeast Minneapolis has a taproom and patio. 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 patio.

Summit Brewing in St. Paul. This pioneering brewery and relative behemoth, founded in 1986, 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 44 rotating taps and a full menu of food, pizza 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.

Tin Whiskers brewery in St. Paul.

© Madeleine Ringham

The engineer-brewers at St. Paul's Tin Whiskers call themselves Team Robot.

12welve Eyes Brewing in St. Paul. This Lowertown brewery, named for its bespectacled founders, has a taproom right on the Green Line, close to the river and downtown.

Under Pressure Brewing in Golden Valley. The medieval-style taproom is furnished with books, board games and a gas fireplace. Malty, English-style beers are featured, and food trucks are available. Events include chess and cribbage tournaments.

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, salads 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.

For more, see Best brew fests.


Last updated on April 6, 2019