The Bar Guide 2015: Taprooms, brewpubs & cocktail rooms

Rounding up the best taprooms, brewpubs and cocktail rooms in the Twin Cities.


Updated 4/2/2015

Surly Brewing *NEW*

520 Malcolm Av. SE., Mpls. • 763-999-4040 • www.surlybrewing.com

As tired as we got of the phrase “destination brewery,” Surly made good on its promise. The $34 million attraction is a mecca for beer nerds pilgrimaging via light rail. The main beer hall is thrice the size of the average Twin Cities taproom and shirks food trucks for in-house charcuterie, bone marrow, BBQ and more from Solera vet Jose Guzman. The temple of brew looks to hit its stride as an upstairs finer-dining restaurant and beer garden are readied for deployment.

 

Du Nord Craft Spirits *NEW*

2610 E. 32nd St., Mpls. • www.dunordcraftspirits.com

The first Twin Cities cocktail room is, you know, pretty much a taproom with cocktails. It’s the kind of place you could roll into wearing dusty Carhartts and order a martini, and it works. The South Side distillery keeps it quaint and offers signature and classic cocktails with its vodka and gin.

 

Urban Growler *NEW*

2325 Endicott St., St. Paul • 651-340-5793 • www.urbangrowler.com

Part of a growing number of St. Paul breweries, Urban Growler has local beer fans begging for more CowBell, its hit cream ale.

 

Tin Whiskers *NEW* 

125 E. 9th St., St. Paul • 651-330-4734 • www.twbrewing.com

Lowertown’s come-up was incomplete until three electrical engineers opened the neighborhood’s first taproom.

 

Fair State Brewing Cooperative *NEW*

2506 Central Av. NE., Mpls. • 612-444-3574 • www.fairstate.coop

With each visit we leave this beery co-op a little more impressed. Lately the Nordeasters have been dabbling with sours and you might catch their next one on New Beer Thursday, which is pretty self-explanatory.

 

Eastlake Craft Brewery *NEW*

920 E. Lake St. #123, Mpls.• 612-224-9713 • www.eastlakemgm.com

Forget food trucks. This Midtown Global Market brewery has an arsenal of worldly eats on its doorstep.

 

HOT TIP

Stop into Eastlake during a local sports ball match and score $3 saison pints while the good guys are winning. (Midtown Global Market, 920 E. Lake St., Mpls.)

 

Bauhaus Brew Labs *NEW*

1315 NE. Tyler St., Mpls. • 612-276-6911 • www.bauhausbrewlabs.com

Anchored by three lager-brewing brothers, the Schwandt clan’s colorful taproom made a splash on the crowded northeast Minneapolis scene.

 

LynLake Brewery *NEW*

2934 Lyndale Av. S., Mpls. • 612-224-9682 • www.lynlakebrewery.com

Does your taproom have a rooftop patio? Didn’t think so.

 

612Brew

Rick Ross-bumpin’, doughnut-grubbin’ co-founder Robert Kasak and the 612 crew know how to have a good time in their sleek and spacious taproom. Their open-brewery plan shows off their stainless steel tanks (brewer bling) and a midnight weekend closing time makes them the closest thing to a late-night taproom option in the Twin Cities. (945 NE. Broadway, Mpls. • 612-217-0437 • www.612brew.com.)

 

Bang Brewing

Sustainability-focused Bang might have a baby-sized footprint. But its silo-style, corrugated metal brewery decorated with reclaimed wood is a big draw for those looking for an outside-the-box taproom experience. It’s like an urbanized barn party with better beer. (2320 Capp Rd., St. Paul • www.bangbrewing.com.)

 

Boom Island Brewing Co.

This North Side brewery added its sparse “Boom Room” to finally get in the taproom game. It ain’t much, but it’s an intimate to place to sip Boom Island’s Belgian-leaning brews. (2014 Washington Av. N., Mpls. • 612-227-9635 • www.boomislandbrewing.com)

 

Dangerous Man

Maybe it’s the sweet beard logo (a silhouette of Rob Miller, the Dangerous Man himself) or the damn near sensual Chocolate Milk Stout, but beer geeks are crushing on this Northeast brewery. (1300 NE. 2nd St., Mpls. • 612-236-4087 • www.dangerousmanbrewing.com.)

 

Day Block Brewing Co.

Pizza and beer: a combination so elementary it’s brilliant. The Day Block dudes are keeping it simple, stupid, with their pint-and-pie brewpub. Day Block has garnered some media buzz with its solid lineup of relatively inside-the-box beers. Nothing wrong with the basics. (1105 Washington Av. S., Mpls. • 612-617-7793 • www.dayblockbrewing.com.)

 

Fulton Brewing

Fulton hit a home run with Minneapolis’ first taproom, adjacent to Target Field. Between its small-batch Garage series and the draft-only, easy-drinking Ringer pale ale, there’s ample reason for year-round visits. Fulton moved most of its production to northeast Minneapolis, but this top-notch taproom stays put. (414 6th Av. N., Mpls. • 612-333-3208 • www.fultonbeer.com.)

 

Freehouse

Freehouse sets itself apart as the “friendly” brewpub. The house roster goes from kolsch to stout to IPA, and the guest lineup invites in all your favorite bedfellows from Indeed, Lift Bridge, et al., and some sexy exchange students from Belgium and Ireland. Naturally, the eats have been designed to pair with all these hops. Breakfast all day sweetens the deal. (701 Washington Av. N., Mpls. • 612-339-7011 • www.freehousempls.com.) (Mecca Bos)

 

Great Waters Brewing Co.

This downtown St. Paul brewpub is part of the old guard, getting yeasty with it for more than 15 years. Pace yourself if you feel like sampling. Great Waters boasts the most serious flight in town (our last came with 10 different beers, and they were out of a few). (426 St. Peter St. • 651-224-2739 • www.greatwatersbc.com.)

 

HammerHeart Brewing Co.

It’s only 20 minutes from downtown Minneapolis, but this rustic taproom feels like a snow-buried cabin somewhere in the Norwegian hinterland. The black metal-blasting brewery taps Nordic and Celtic influences and its suburban beer lodge’s decorative battle gear and a few antler draft handles fit the vibe. (7785 Lake Dr., Lino Lakes • 651-964-2160 • www.hammerheartbrewing.com.)

 

Harriet Brewing

While swankier taprooms have opened in its wake, Harriet — one of the earliest aboard the on-site-pint train — has kept its inviting garage vibe intact. Aside from its Belgian- and German-style beers, the South Side taproom showcases local art and music. (3036 Minnehaha Av. S., Mpls. • 612-315-4633 • www.harrietbrewing.com.)

 

Indeed Brewing Co.

This brewery set the standard for taprooms. Its hopped-up flagships and knockout limiteds, such as Rum King and the summertime L.S.D. Honey Ale, keep Nordeasters and party-bus renters coming back. (711 15th Av. NE., Mpls. 612-843-5090 www.indeedbrewing.com.)

 

Lift Bridge Brewing Co.

This Stillwater suds hub’s taproom has the simple warmth of an Up North townie bar without the crap on tap. To christen specialty releases, the Farm Girl purveyors often expand the party into the brewery and host live music. (1900 W. Tower Dr., Stillwater • 1-888-430-2337 • www.liftbridgebrewery.com.)

 

Northbound Smokehouse & Brewpub

Pair a Town Hall-tutored brewer with a meat-smoking magistrate and let the googly eyes ensue. True story: We once saw a beer fan so floored by having a first-rate brewpub close to home that he bought the bar a round on his birthday. Luckily, the Blue Line light rail is nearby in case the Smokehouse Porter proves too addictive. (2716 E. 38th St., Mpls. • 612-208-1450.)

 

Sociable Cider Werks

From its garage-like brewery and pew-furnished taproom, Sociable has brought something new with its apple graffs — beer/cider hybrids, in a nutshell. Using home-state apples, Sociable’s gluten-free craft graffs shirk the sweetness of the big-name cider brands for a tart and dry tipple. A handful of small-batch brews give the beer purists something to sip, too. (1500 NE. Fillmore St., Mpls. • 612-758-0105 • www.sociablecider.com.)

 

Steel Toe Brewing

This little brewery that could cranks out some of the best beer in the state. Owner/brewer Jason Schoneman’s personally handmade sliver of a taproom reflects his commitment to craft and DIY spirit. (4848 W. 35th St., St. Louis Park • 952-955-9965 • www.steeltoebrewing.com.)

 

Summit Brewing Co.

The best part about Summit being a godfather of Minnesota craft beer is that Mark Stutrud and his band of exceptional beer-makers don’t run a ruthless, Corleone-style crime ring (or do they?). Instead, they invite beer fans over on Fridays and Saturdays (4-9 p.m.) for specialty firkins and food trucks at their bluffside taproom. (910 Montreal Circle, St. Paul • 651-265-7800 • www.summitbrewing.com.)

 

Town Hall Brewery

Like a good brewpub, Town Hall offers its own libations as well as those of others. Opened in 1997, the bar is an exercise in antiquity — pop on a sepia filter and your Instagrams will look straight out of Prohibition. (1430 Washington Av. S., Mpls. • 612-339-8696 • www.townhallbrewery.com.) (Spencer Doar)

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