Are you in the mood for some great craft brew? Well, you've come to the right place!
The Twin Cities micro-brewery scene has exploded in the past 7 years, thanks to the passing of the Surly Bill in 2011. Named after one of the most prominent breweries around, this bill allowed for breweries to sell on premise, rather than only through distributors, and started the taproom revolution in Minnesota.
To help you navigate the large and small, near and far, experimental and traditional, malty and hoppy, we've compiled an expansive list of breweries in the Twin Cities. This article covers Minneapolis and is loosely arranged by neighborhood. Stay tuned for a later article on beers from the saintly city next door, St. Paul.
Sit back, pop open a brewskie, because this list is bound to make you thirsty.
We have to start off with the brewery that is responsible for making Minneapolis a mecca for beer lovers of the north! When Surly wanted to move from the suburbs to a larger brewery in city limits, with a taproom and events space, a prohibition-era law prohibited this idea. They didn't change their vision, they changed the laws of Minnesota. This stubborn, driven attitude is also reflected in their beer, with bold flavors, brash beer names, and bright beer cans.
The brewery and taproom have a beer hall vibe (as they are enormous) with outdoor seating and a fire pit. The brewery may have been raised on metal music, but the taproom plays a less aggressive mix of rock n' roll. If metal is your jam, make sure to visit during Darkness Days, a music and beer festival that marks the release of a limited-edition brew: Darkness. People from across the country can be found camping out, in line, awaiting the beer's release.
Although Surly is called "Surly", the company is also kind. The "Surly Gives a Damn" program organizes volunteer opportunities and provides charitable contributions to community partners.
Northbound Brewpub is a bit different from most of the taprooms on the list, as they are also a full-service restaurant with a full bar. This small, cozy neighborhood joint boasts a from-scratch kitchen with 2 industrial smokers, used to smoke meats, cheeses, and even vegetables on their menu.
Their beer selection features a few staples and some more adventurous seasonal offerings. If you are heading Northbound in the winter, make sure to try their award-wining "Snownami", a double-chocolate raspberry stout.
Venn Brewing Company is one of the newest taprooms in town. Since opening in December of 2017, Venn has become the go-to spot for people in the neighborhood and light rail commuters, as it is directly next to the 46th St. Station. The beers on tap are brewed in small batches and constantly rotating. If you get the chance, try the delicious Pomegranate Guava Sour.
Venn is likely to get even more popular as the weather warms, with garage doors opening to a descent sized patio and a killer location near Minnehaha Creek and Falls. Food trucks are on hand and dogs are welcome.
If you need a little nosh to go with your brews, but are having a hard time deciding what you are in the mood for, head over to the Midtown Global Market. This building houses 18 restaurants in a public marketplace with vendors from around the globe.
Eastlake Craft Brewery also caters to an array of tastes, with a rotating menu of staples and seasonals. My favorite is the every-changing Kirby Pucker Sour where each batch is an experiment in flavors, from grilled peaches to pickled beets. They also brew their own kombucha. Try it alone, or mixed with beer in the "One-Two Punch".
Insider tip: Most restaurants deliver right to your table in the brewery, so check out the menus at the bar and order from your beertender.
Wild Mind Artisan Ales lives up to its name by using wild Minnesota yeast to create ales brewed in the old ways of yore. Each brew is distinct and each batch varies from any other before it, due to the wild yeast, open-air fermentation, and the barrel ageing process. Although they specialize in the more rustic style of ales (sours, farmhouse, saison), their eclectic tap menu also features IPAs, Stouts, and Lagers.
This kid- and dog- friendly taproom is a great option to meet up with friends or family. It has a fresh, bright, clean, and open atmosphere. When the weather is nice, large doors open to the outdoor patio, equipped with yard games and food trucks.
If you find yourself in Uptown, head on over to LynLake Brewery for some solid brews in a hip, industrial setting. Housed in the historic Lyndale Theater, this taproom has a slew of flagship beers, rotating seasonals, and the occasional limited-edition ales. They also usually have a beer or two on nitro, if a creamy finish floats your boat. Speaking of creamy, they brew their own root-beer in house.
Although Uptown is a mecca for restaurants, if you decide you'd rather stay at the brewery than stray, they've partnered up with a few neighborhood restaurants to provide food delivery to your table.
An Uptown staple, the Herkimer is one of the original craft breweries in Minneapolis. Since opening in 1999, this brewpub has been offering their own versions of German style beers. Although they began by following the Reinheitsgebot (a German law restricting beer to 4 ingredients: water, barley, hops, yeast), they have since expanded their offerings to include beer styles from around the world and their own hand-brewed energy drink.
If you are visiting during football season, be prepared for a bar full of enthusiastic fans, Packer fans. This place has been dubbed a Packer bar and fans from around the city coalesce here to cheer the cheese together.
An even older staple of the Minneapolis craft beer scene is the Town Hall Brewery. They may have the longest tap list of any brewery around, with a wide selection of traditional ales and exotic infusions. One of my favorites here is the coconut stout.
Their flagship location (with the brewery) is located in the Seven Corners Neighborhood, but they also have expanded to three sister restaurants.
Town Hall Tap is a small neighborhood restaurant with a vintage vibe on 48th & Chicago.
Town Hall Lanes is a bowling alley with beer and pub fare located at 50th St & 34th Ave S.
Town Hall Station is a diner in Edina.
Just past the last Light Rail stop, in the warehouse district of downtown Minneapolis, lies a hip, art-centric, experimental brewery. Modist Brewing Company specializes in "alternative" brews and prides themselves on breaking the rules of the beer world. They have some beers you'd recognize, but if you are the adventurous type, make sure to try a First Call (a cold-press lager) or a Ritual Night (a spicy, Mexican dark chocolate stout).
Take a look around the brewery as you sip your suds. Modist hosts a bunch of art shows throughout the year and have permanent pieces up from the Rogue Citizen art collective. The back room is often the venue for art markets, charity fundraisers, and fun events (like rollerskating). Dogs are welcome and food is easy to find, as their resident food truck, the Curious Goat, is open most hours that the brewery is.
Fulton is one of the bigger breweries around town, distributing their brews around the country. Check out their taproom to try some of the lesser known and seasonal brews. The communal seating and friendly atmosphere makes this a great place to bring a group of friends or make new ones. In warm weather, their patio is a lovely, cozy retreat, despite the fact that it is nestled into a busy area of downtown, right by the Twins Stadium.
Hungry? You are in luck! Fulton just added a kitchen to the taproom, serving elevated versions of Minnesotan delicacies. Vinyl lovers should head here on Thursday nights. Bring a record to play, get a free beer, and nerd out with other music aficionados.
Completing the trifecta of North Loop taprooms, Inbound Brew Co. is a mere block away from Fulton and two blocks from Modist. You may think that that would cause the little guy to get competitive, but Inbound is decidedly collaborative. They have a couple of interesting brews created with the help and ingredients of other area businesses, including tea makers, distilleries, and breweries. The bravest beer buffs should try the Oyster Stout, a collaboration with three other breweries with the not-so-secret ingredient of... you guessed it, oysters.
Head to Inbound on a Monday night for trivia or a weekend for live music. They occasionally have other fun events, like interactive craft night, adult coloring time, and pet portrait sessions.
For steampunk vibes with session-style brews, head on over to Clockwerks Brewing, in the middle of downtown Minneapolis. This intimate space is a perfect for small groups gathering for a game of cribbage on their cog-shaped boards. Like Inbound, Clockwerks is really into collaboration, but with the local community of home brewers! Whenever possible, one of the taps is reserved for a special batch of home-brew.
There has been a pretty big farm-to-table movement in the Twin Cities restaurant industry, but did you know that the model can also apply to beer? Lakes & Legends is a farm-to-table brewery that specializes in Belgian farmhouse style beers. Their rotating seasonal beers are crafted around the ingredients available from their farm partners, resulting in balanced and complex, refreshing ales.
The sitting-on-a-farmhouse-porch-on-a-warm-spring-day vibe extends beyond their beer to the atmosphere of the taproom itself. With rustic wood and dim yard lights, a lounge area complete with adirondack chairs, and indoor yard games, this brewery is a nice escape to summer in the middle of a blizzardly winter evening.
Set along a beautiful stretch of the Mississippi River, just north of the North Loop of Downtown Minneapolis, lies a cozy taproom with a modern-industrial vibe. Pryes first came into the market with their bright and smooth Miraculum IPA (which you can also get on nitro), but has extended their offerings the a bundle of refined classics.
Pryes also offers an activity that you can't find anywhere else in town, feather bowling. This traditional Belgian game is similar to Bocce, fun and easy to play, but hard to master. In the summer, bike along the West River Road trail and stop to enjoy a beer or three on their river view patio. Dogs are welcome and food is friendly, with sandwiches and pub fare by Seventh Street Truck Park.
Not every brewery origin story starts with a few pals in a garage. Sisyphus Brewing began on a more serious note. As the founder studied philosophy and struggled with depression, the idea to embrace life's absurdity and have fun inspired the creation of a haven from the toils of everyday life. Sisyphus Brewing (located near the Basilica, Loring Park, and the Walker Art Center) is part taproom, part comedy club.
As far as beer goes, Sisyphus has a something for everyone. With a small selection of batch brewed beers, you get to try something new on each visit. The cozy taproom is bursting with games, including shuffleboard and pinball machines, so bring some friends, play some games and stay for a fun, affordable comedy show.
Although the Freehouse is more of a restaurant than a taproom, their on-site brewery pumps out small batches of brew that is crafted to pair with the restaurant menu. The drink menu is extensive, serving Freehouse beer alongside other popular craft brews, wine, and cocktails. If you can't decide whether it is a beer or cocktail kind of night, try a beer cocktail. Far from your average michelada, these are craft cocktails with just enough ale to give a bubbly finish.
The restaurant and patio are huge with a modern industrial vibe and often busy with the condo crowd from the North Loop area.
At the eastern most point of downtown, just before you reach University of Minnesota territory, there is a small brewpub with good beer and wonderfully weird pizzas. Day Block offers up some solid standard beers and brews small experimental batches that are available on the first Wednesday of the month. They also have a "bands that brew" program, where the brewery pairs up with a local band to craft a beer, which is released in conjunction with the band's show at the brewery.
The atmosphere of the taproom is befitting of the old building it is housed in. Exposed brick and duct work, wood and black accents give it a cozy industrial vibe. The back patio feels like you are sitting in a parking lot, but sometimes in Minnesota, you have to soak up the sun where ever you can get it!
At the northern most tip of downtown, lies a bit of Belgium, literally. Before starting Boom Island Brewing, the founder and head brewer traveled around Belgium, brewed alongside some of the Belgian greats, and brought back strains of yeast that were used to create Boom Island brews. These yeasts and brewing traditions create a fresh and unmistakable Belgian flavor profile.
The Boom Room, as they call their taproom at Boom Island, is unpretentious, intimate, and friendly. Saturdays usher in a jazzy crowd with live jazz music. Unlike most breweries, Boom Island has a happy hour. Visit on Wednesdays and Thursdays between 4-6pm for $4 brews.
Blocks away from Theodore Wirth Park, nature lovers and neighborhood folks alike enjoy the sole brewery in North Minneapolis. Specializing in European style brews, Utepils uses the highest quality water from the nearby historic Glenwood Spring. This results in clean, crisp brews that are steeped in flavor and tradition.
The large taproom manages to feel warm and cozy despite it's size. Utepils hosts weekly events, like yoga & beer, cribbage tournaments, and acoustic jam sessions. Food trucks are always parked outside and a patio is slated for construction in the near future.
Indeed has made quite the name for itself among beer lovers of the Midwest. The whimsical art that adorns their cans reflects the interesting brews inside. With strange ingredients, like sweet potatoes, lavender, and Mexican orange blossom honey, they are always coming up with creative combos for the adventurous drinker. Not feeling adventurous, they have some staple beers that are well balanced and fresh tasting.
The intimate taproom can feel a bit snug on a busy night, but happily Indeed has opened an auxiliary taproom down the hall, named The Ox. Stop by on a Wednesday night to help Indeed do good with their "Indeed we Can" program, which donates its net profits to a local, employee-chosen charity. During warm weather, watch the passing trains and pet the neighborhood pups on their back patio. They also host a weekend long concert fest during Northeast's Art-a-Whirl, the largest open-studio art crawl in the country.
Bauhaus is big, bold, and boisterous. Taking its name and ethos from the experimental art movement of post-WWI Germany, this brewery exudes joy, goofiness, and a "why not?" attitude. They have a cast of "haus" beers always on tap, with a rotating selection of seasonals that are flavor-forward and as bold and bright as the brewery itself.
The best part of the taproom is undoubtedly the patio. Sidled up against the railroad tracks, the patio is tucked under a huge, industrial covering that harks back to its days as an iron works warehouse. The expansive area around the patio is often the host to events, including art fairs, concerts, fundraising events, motorcycle shows and more.
Just around the corner from Bauhaus, in another historic building, is 612 Brew. Their warm, exposed brick taproom is often the host to themed trivia nights, craft nights, and fundraisers. The brew selection includes their signature pale ales and lagers and a rotating selection of seasonals. If you are a coffee fan, make sure to try the Coffee Mild, a beer brewed with coffee from Spyhouse, a local coffee roaster that shares the same building.
Able Seedhouse and Brewery celebrates the beauty in simplicity. Looking back to simpler times for inspiration, Able creates beer from local ingredients and promotes appreciation for the wilderness through the beers' names and hosting outdoors-focused events. The clean, minimalist style of the taproom allows you to focus on what's important, the beer and your companions.The beer itself is as clean and balanced as the brewery. Try the BLK WLF, a complex, smooth, award-winning stout.
Insider tip: Grab a hot dog from Uncle Frankie's, a northeast staple, down the street on your way to the brewery.
Dangerous Man lives dangerously...at least with their experimental, small-batch brews. They have a constantly rotating selection of staples and concoctions, like a Mango-Habenero Milkshake IPA and a Peanut Butter Porter. With 12-16 beers on tap, there is something for everyone.
The brewery itself is a pillar of the community. It is a weekday gathering place for neighbors, a weekend party-place, and gathering place for Dangerous Man's Volunteer Club. The taproom features art from local artists, which is fitting, as it is in the middle of the Northeast Arts District. Make sure to visit the Growler shop next door for beer-to-go and Dangerous Man branded gear.
Minneapolis loves cooperatives, whether our abundant co-op grocery stores, restaurants and coffee shops following the cooperative business model, or cooperative beer brewing. Fair State is owned by Member-Owners, who invest in the brewery, come up with ideas for seasonal and small-batch releases, and give back to the community with volunteer work and donations.
The beer is varied and tasty. The tap selection is always rotating with new beers released every Thursday. Sour aficionados should be sure to stop here and try the staple Roselle Hibiscus Sour, Lichtenhainer Smoked Sour, or the hoppy 4Hop Sour. The taproom is pretty small and unassuming, decorated with photos of the hundreds of members. Dogs are welcome inside and on their graveled alley patio.
Drinking a flight of Insight Brews is like taking an epic journey through a magic, faraway, beer-laden land. Each beer name sounds like a chapter of a fantasy novel, while the taste is adventurous to match. My favorite is the award-winning Sunken City, a saison made with sauvingnon blanc grapes.
The mid-sized taproom has an industrial feel and overlooks the brewery, with a selection of their year-round, small-batch and barrel-aged brews. Check their calendar for a variety of events, from weekly trivia nights to outdoor music, BBQ, or craft shows. This brewery also gives back to the community through their WITHINSIGHT program.
At nearly one year old, HeadFlyer is still just a pup in the brewery world, but they have already accumulated quite a following. With a modern interior, fun pops of colored neon lights, and a minimalist interior, this taproom is open and accommodating. They allow children and dogs, so feel free to bring the whole family and play a game of cribbage on their giant cribbage board. The patio is great for watching the hustle and bustle of Hennepin Avenue and soaking up a bit of sun.
The tap list has the basics covered, with an array of pale ales and a couple of dark ales.
Anglophiles will be chuffed with a visit to NorthGate Brewing. Set in an industrial stretch of Northeast Minneapolis, the brewery is a bit hard to see, but luckily the giant British flag on the side of the Potter's Pasties Food Truck parked outside ushers visitors in. This brewery focuses on traditional British-style beers, but isn't afraid to add a little bit of Minnesota to their offerings. Make sure to try their staple brown ale, Wall's End or do some dogs some good with the Pit Bull Pale Ale, created in partnership with the Save-a-Bull Rescue program.
56 Brewing is obsessed (in the best way) with everything local. Not only did they create a brewery inspired by northeast culture, they grow many of their ingredients on site and source others from local businesses. Their flagship honey kolsch, NE Nectar, uses locally sourced honey and they recently paired up with Big Watt Coffee to create a cold-press infused IPA.
They also try to be as sustainable as possible, as is evident in the brewery, which is built in part with recycled wood pallets. The cozy taproom has a decidedly industrial vibe with a small patio. Head above the bar to check out the very cool mezzanine, complete with pinball machines. Weekly events include trivia and metal record nights.
Last, but not least, is an option for all of you gluten-free folks and cider-lovers. Tucked away in a quiet corner of northeast (behind an armored truck company and past an expansive parking lot), is a cider company serving up delicious and unique fermented fruit beverages and beers. For the adventurous cider drinker, try the Burn-Out, a cucumber/habenero cider.
The mid-sized taproom feels like a bit of the open country, with weathered wood, an old piano in the corner, and the aroma of apples in the air. The brewery hosts lots of events, living up to its sociable name, including brunches, yoga, live music nights, and date nights.
About the Author: Sarah Holm is a writer, artist, and designer. More of her work can be found at www.sarahmholm.com