SKOL! The Minneapolis Brew Scene

SKOL! The Minneapolis Brew Scene

Reward your palate with five fresh takes on traditional beers while in Minneapolis

 Photo by Cynthia Lozano, provided by Keith Richardson

Photo by Cynthia Lozano, provided by Keith Richardson

Story by Kevin Miller

Minneapolis has one of the most well-established craft-brewing scenes in the country. As tall-cans and growlers abound, the options can be overwhelming. Here are  five standout breweries with reasonably-priced pints and creative interpretations of classic brews that shouldn’t be missed in Minneapolis.

 

Where sours are sweet

With a basement full of barrels and bacteria, Fair State Brewing Cooperative is quietly experimenting with singular brews for the open-minded drinker. Their tap list features a number of sours, along with German-style lagers, and an India Pale Ale (IPA). Their barrel-aging program is extensive, with live bacterium creating new, tart, and funky flavors in small-batch undertakings.

“Every [beer] is an experiment, to some extent,” says Caleb Levar, assistant brewer at Fair State. Caleb  has a Ph.D. in microbiology from the University of Minnesota, and has put it to good use in Fair State’s  sour program. His ability to help isolate bacteria like lactobacillus and brettanomyces has helped push their flavor profile beyond the traditional Belgium gose or lambic.

The focus on non-traditional brews pushes visiting beer fans out of their comfort zones. “For so long, people would come in and just ask, ‘What have you got for an IPA?’… They just default to getting that,” says Davin Haukebo-Bol, member coordinator and project manager. However, with other styles available, people started trying the other brews Fair State has to offer. “Now, something’s changed where people come in and try other things.”

One of the new brews that’s taking off at Fair State is their Roselle, a hibiscus kettle sour. It pours a gorgeous, murky pink with tart aromas. The flavor is quite lively, starting sweet but finishing sharp and acidic. Caleb says the beer is made with lactobacillus bacteria, which he isolated from a red wine barrel.

Along with the Roselle, Fair State has an ever-rotating tap list of sours. Their LÄCTOBÄC series, where Roselle was first developed, is now on its twelfth feature.

 

While the size of a pour varies per brew, expect to pay between $3 and $6 per beer at Fair State. They’re located at 2506A Central Ave. NE

Libations with Representation

  Getty Images

 Getty Images

At just over a year old, 56 Brewing is a community-supported brewery (CSB) committed to reclaiming industrial space for green use. CSB is a twist on community-supported agriculture (CSA), where consumers purchase a membership share and are delivered a box of local, fresh produce from a farmer. With a CSB membership share, members receive monthly growlers of fresh beer rather than fruits and vegetables.

While they are still in the process of constructing a taproom complete with hop gardens and a rainwater-collection system, they are brewing quality beers available to the public in growlers, mini growlers, and bombers.

Their Dark Territory Stout is brewed with coconut, delivering notes of chocolate and roasted malt on the nose. Upon first taste, a smooth, comfortable hop bitterness rounds out the sweetness of the chocolate. Developing later on the palate, notes of delicate coconut come through without overpowering the malt.

 

Growlers from 56 cost $12 to $14, and mini growlers run $6 to $7. The brewery is located at 3134 California St. NE Suite 122.

Art and Tradition Collide

 Matt Schwandt from Bauhaus Brewlabs. Photo by Kevin Miller

Matt Schwandt from Bauhaus Brewlabs. Photo by Kevin Miller

Bauhaus Brewlabs is a true family-owned brewery serving consistent, well-crafted beer in Northeast Minneapolis. Matt Schwandt, president and head brewer at Bauhaus, says they focus on making non-traditional lagers with unique twists.

The brewery, which is named after the German Bauhaus art school, strives to brew beer that is complicated but approachable, artistic but not snobby, Matt says. Some of the recipes that Matt started back in 2005 when he began home-brewing because he “needed a hobby” are now served on tap. The seasonal brews at Bauhaus are vastly different from their everyday taps, and are all quite excellent. Their Copperpop, a hoppy red lager brewed in spring, pours a delightful deep amber with a citrus forward nose. Its stylistic backbone comes from the traditional Irish red lagers, which is “kind of a dying style,” according to Matt. The Copperpop, however, is far from dead or dated. A dose of Pacific hops give Copperpop a piney, citrus flavor, like that of an IPA. The melding of styles makes for a pleasant brew, coming in at a comfortable 60 international bittering units (IBUs).

 

A pint at Bauhaus Brew Labs is always $5, and can be found at 1315 Tyler St. NE

Pour Me the Brown at Midtown

Located in the old Sears & Roebuck building by the Midtown Global Market, Eastlake Craft Brewery produces an impressive list of American and European style beers. With thirteen rotating taps, five flagships, and six seasonal beers, anything from a vegan milk stout to lemon and ginger sour can be found at Eastlake.

Their Mud in Your Eye American Brown Ale stands out as a well-crafted libation. Pouring a dark and murky brown, it’s nutty and malty on the nose. Its flavor is heavier and slightly sweeter than a typical brown ale, departing from the style to please porter fans. When paired with an aged sharp cheddar, even more subtleties reveal themselves on the back palate.

 

Eastlake is at 920 E. Lake St.,  Suite 123 Pints run from $4 to $6.

More than Able

Able Seedhouse, which opened in November 2016, wants to bring local ingredients back to local beer. Eventually, they plan to use only their own malt in each of their beers. For now, they buy their malt and grains from farmers in Minnesota and Wisconsin. They do their best to create as small of a footprint as possible, says Ashleigh Blasey, bartender and wife of brewer, Bobby Blasey. They were one of the first breweries in the state to install solar panels on the roof, and their bar is made from rescued Douglas fir.

While seasonal varieties might be coming later, Able currently has five beers available in its taproom. Their Blk Wlf stout on nitro pours dark, with roasted malts on the nose—toffee and dark chocolate flavors abound. This one’s for the candy lovers. What’s more, unlike Russian Imperial Stouts, which are heavier and can run 11 or 12 percent alcohol by volume (ABV), the Black Wolf is lighter and only 3.7 percent ABV, pairing perfectly with long pub crawl sessions. In fact, all of Able’s brews are 6 percent ABV or under. The Black Wolf is also available “on neon,” where a splash of cold-press coffee is infused with the stout.

Pints at Able Seedhouse are $5, with half-pints running $3 and flights for $8. They are located at 1121 Quincy St. NE

 

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Kevin is a Minneapolis freelance writer. His work has been featured on Minnpost, The MetropolitanHaute Dish Literary Magazine, and a nonprofit called The Enitan Story. When he’s not bobbing his head at an indie rap show or talking politics over spicy street tacos on Lake Street, he’s helping strangers find humor in their failed love experiments on his blog DrKevsLoveAdvice.com. He’ll travel anywhere with a beach, but is partial to California and the Great Lakes. Kevin is also a collector of old records and enjoys reading.

Kevin is a Minneapolis freelance writer. His work has been featured on MinnpostThe MetropolitanHaute Dish Literary Magazine, and a nonprofit called The Enitan Story. When he’s not bobbing his head at an indie rap show or talking politics over spicy street tacos on Lake Street, he’s helping strangers find humor in their failed love experiments on his blog DrKevsLoveAdvice.com. He’ll travel anywhere with a beach, but is partial to California and the Great Lakes. Kevin is also a collector of old records and enjoys reading.