As I mentioned earlier, this summer has been a bit hefty on libations. While my beverage of choice will always be a gin and tonic when the temps hit the 90s, I discovered a new hobby I love this summer: touring craft breweries and taprooms!
Minneapolis has a large population of great local breweries, and I have a secret weapon: my bff of a decade, Kelsie, is a taproom expert. Her roommates used to brew their own beer, and she's got a wealth of knowledge of the best places to grab a pint.
We paid our first breweries a visit very early in the summer with a planned brewery crawl! Kels and her delightful sister Jamie, as well as Kels's friend Maren, started our day at the 612 Brewery and Taproom, which opened up in February of 2013. I started my day off with a super dark nitro-charged stout, which was delicious, as were the pulled pork barbecue nachos we all split while enjoying the sunny weather on their expansive outdoor patio!
We then trekked the short half-mile to Indeed Brewing Company, which has graced Northeast with its presence since 2011. I personally preferred the atmosphere of Indeed to 612...their taproom was cozy with rich woods and large warehouse windows, and their back patio, though smaller than 612's, was festooned with café lights and fragrant flower boxes. Here, we sampled the "LSD" summer brew, a "kaleidoscopic combination" of lavender, sunflower honey, and dates. The beer was unlike anything I've ever tasted--smooth, sweet without crossing the line into cloying, and incredibly refreshing.
Our next stop on the tour departed a bit from our beer adventures, as we headed to Sociable Ciderwerks. Located just a little over half a mile from both Indeed and 612, Sociable specializes in hard ciders. We couldn't even come close to picking between the eight (!) different varieties of hard cider and beer, so we did two samplers and split them among ourselves.
Favorites included the special, a cucumber-infused cider that totally hit the spot, as well as the Freewheeler, a classic dry apple. We weren't as crazy about the Hop-A-Wheelie, a hopped cider that overwhelmed a bit, or the jalapeño-spiced cider.
A few weeks later, we hit another new Northeast brewery, Dangerous Man, for an afternoon of board games and beer. I LOVED Dangerous Man...their Vanilla Rooibos Red Ale and their Dark Chocolate Stout were both beers I would order again with no hesitation.
I liked Dangerous Man so much I took my dad back a few weeks later! I had a blast drinking beer and people-watching with my favorite dangerous man. We actually met the head brewer's wife and darling toddler daughter, who seemed to have acquired an early taste for beer foam...too cute.
To round out our beer-heavy summer, Kels, Jamie and I gathered up a great conglomeration of my Twin Cities friends from all eras and hit up the Northeast Brewers' Block Party! Hosted by all the Northeast breweries, the inaugural year of this event was home to a little over a dozen different summery beers, four food trucks, and...oh yeah...7,500 other beer fans. Fortunately we arrived early enough to get a few rounds in before the lines stretched to over an hour long, at which point we bailed to go soak up the beer with some nachos in a less crowded environment. That said, I'm already looking forward to next year--hopefully the kinks will be ironed out!
The coolest part about the Minnesota brewery scene? We've barely scratched the surface! On my list for the coming months: Bauhaus, Day Block, and Fulton in Minneapolis, as well as Bang! Brewery and Vine Park in Saint Paul. I'd also love to organize a weekend trip to check out some other locations...Lift Bridge in Stillwater, Leinenkugel in Chippewa Falls, WI, and Bent Paddle in Duluth, perhaps? Let's be real...I'm not going to stop until I see this actually happen in real life: