Ah, Minnesota… The land of a thousand lakes and a thousand beers.
Minnesotans are fond of their beer, which makes the state the perfect environment for the art of microbrewing. These small scale breweries churn out some of the best artisan handcrafted brews around, especially in the north east portion of the state – which is nicknamed the ‘Nordeast’ – an area that is currently going through something of a microbrewing revolution.
Everybody has their personal favorites, but there are always those that are considered the best of the best…
1. 612 Brew
It’s not hard to find a brewery that offers tours, but 612 Brew takes a different route. Instead of offering a tour, it lets you look right into the brewing room so you can watch the beer being brewed as you drink it. Located in a huge building, 612 Brew is a great place to get a good brew with good friends. While opinions differ, its Main Stage amber ale seems to be the general favorite.
2. August Schell Brewing Company
The August Schell Brewing Company can trace its history all the way back to the 1860s when it was founded by its namesake, a German immigrant by the name of August Schell. It holds both the title of oldest brewery in Minnesota and the largest brewery in terms of gallonage, so it is definitely no baby microbrewer. Schell’s Brewery brews 38 different kinds of beer including a 109-year-old grain belt recipe that the brewery acquired to save it from extinction.
3. Summit Brewing Co
The Summit Brewing Co prides itself on the tradition of throwing out tradition. Its brewers aren’t afraid to tread into areas of flavour where other brewers fear to tread. Summit Brewing believes the key into crafting a high quality, balanced beer is to select the right strain of yeast and have a holistic approach to beer making. Its Summit Horizon Red Ale and Unchained Series are prime examples of that unique tradition.
4. Surly Brewing Co
The brews at the Surly Brewing Co started as a home-brewing kit that owner Omar Ansari received as a gift – which in the art beer making is starting from the bottom of the barrel. As the owner’s love of brewing grew, so did his business. Now the surly beers that come out of this company are served all over Minnesota. Its IPAs, including its Abrasive Ale and Furious, have grown to be loved by Minnesotan beer drinkers.
5. Indeed Brewing Company
The Indeed Brewing Company is all about focusing on the positive things in life. What’s the best thing about life? Well, of course, it’s beer. Minnesotans are going absolutely crazy for Indeed, raving about everything from its well-run taproom to the history behind its chairs and tables. However, the best thing is its beer. There seems to be a constant war being waged on which of its flagship brews are better – the Day Tripper pale ale or the Midnight Ryder black ale.
6. Fulton Brewing
Fulton Brewing boasts a real-rags-to-riches tale of four guys who had a brewing kit in a garage. What started off as a fun hobby soon blossomed into a profitable business. Now they are providing handcrafted beer to thirsty Minnesotans at affordable prices. What makes it different from other microbreweries is its popular seasonal brews, like winter’s Worthy Adversary, a Russian Imperial Stout. There’s also a Garage series beers that are experiments straight from their lab in their garage where it all started.
7. Dangerous Man Brewing Co
The Dangerous Man Brewing Co believes in limiting your carbon footprint through beer. Good beer is fresh beer and it should be drunk locally – that’s the motto to live by. It has a rotating draft, which puts off some visitors who are creatures of habit, as they may not be able to find their favourite brews there all the time. However, it never hurts to be adventurous with some of their more innovative beers like the Chocolate Milk Stout or Cream Ale.