Disclaimer No. 1: All five places listed below are located in Minneapolis. St. Paulites and suburban dwellers, please know that I have nothing against the beer brewed in your zip codes. I love Summit and Surly, Bad Weather and Steel Toe. But these are my go-to taprooms—the places that make me feel warm and cozy inside (before, during, and after imbibing). Think of this more as an invitation than a snub. There’s plenty of room at the bar for all.
Disclaimer No. 2: The breweries are listed in alphabetical order. Asking me to rank them would be like asking me to choose whiskey or red wine or beer as a favorite beverage. It’s unfair, unfeasible, and just plain impossible.
If you’ve never gotten take-out from Anchor Fish and Chips and brought it to Dangerous Man for a pub-grub picnic, you’re missing out. Fish and chips with an Extra Special Bitter (5.5% ABV), a veggie pastie with a Cream Ale, and a Chocolate Milk Stout or Hazelnut Porter for dessert—heaven. All of it.
Fair State head brewer Niko Tonks is best known for his sours, but I’m a sucker for his pilsner. It’s clean, crisp, and low in alcohol content (4.9%), which I appreciate, as I’m more of a lightweight than I care to admit. Plus, it pairs well with tacos (Maya Cuisine), Thai (Karta Thai), and pretty much anything from Holy Land Deli. Can you hear “My Favorite Things” playing right now, or is it just me?
There’s a lot to love about Fulton. Its proximity to Target Field and garden patio are key in summer months, and its yet-to-be-super-developed (but quickly being developed) North Loop location usually means cheap parking isn’t too hard to find. But the best thing about Fulton is—surprise!—the beer. My go-to taproom choice is MPLS Mild (4% ABV): smooth, flavorful, and different than anything else in town, it’s only available onsite, making the trip to the brewery that much more satisfying.
Anyone who’s known me for more than a minute has likely heard me mention Northbound. While I could gush on and on, I’ll keep my obsessing to this: smoked trout spinach salad, 18-hour porketta sandwich, housemade chips, and Smokehouse Porter (6.2% ABV). This beer has gotten me through many a bitter winter night, cured writer’s blocks, and fueled more deep conversations than I can count. It’s a special beer for me, and I think it could be for you, too.
The cornerstones of Minnesota beer can easily be lost in the wave of recent newcomers. One such cornerstone is Town Hall Brewery. Their beer is some of the best in the state (and the nation) and is only available at this dark, cozy, classic pub. My last trip consisted of a Midnight Breakfast oatmeal porter (5.7% ABV), a Vikings win, and an impromptu conversation about the weirdness that is brandy. It was a Sunday afternoon for the books, and I give full credit to this West Bank institution.
Words by Ellen Burkhardt, Associate Editor at Growler Magazine