Flat Earth Brewing Company

January 28, 2019

We have a couple of friends that spend most of their leisure time exclusively in the Minneapolis area. Imagine our surprise when we received a text asking if we’d like to accompany them to a relatively under the radar brewery in St. Paul. They’d seen a photo of their patio on Instagram and they wanted to see it first hand. After meeting them at another brewery in Northeast, Minneapolis we headed to the Dayton’s Bluff neighborhood of St. Paul. Our ultimate destination: Flat Earth Brewing Company.

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Minnesota Craft Beer: Best of 2018

January 3, 2019
Tap Traveler Post at Bobbing Bobber

I really enjoy writing this article, but these awards get harder and harder every year! That’s mostly because there are so many great breweries in the state and partly due to some self imposed limits. Every award must go to a brewery I’ve visited in the calendar year and I won’t give a brewery the same award two years in a row. I also added a Best Innovation category to reward the breweries that are consistently pushing the envelope! I’ve visited almost 100 breweries in Minnesota and written posts about a healthy amount of them. If I’m missing your favorites I’d love to hear about them. Let’s get to it!

Best New Brewery / Waldmann Brewery & Wurstery

Waldmann ExteriorWhile they technically opened in November 2017 it was late enough that I consider them new. This award is fairly ironic for a brewery that’s located in the oldest commercial building in St. Paul! My first visit to Waldmann was during their Oktoberfest celebration and I fell in love with their cozy taproom and German style beers. The next time we’re in the middle of a major snowfall I plan to pull up a seat next to their fireplace and drink some of their dark malty goodness. I suggest you make plans to do the same.

Best Branding / La Doña Cervecería

La Doña InteriorI only visited La Doña Cervecería for one beer, but they left a lasting impression on me. Regulars to the craft beer scene know that taprooms can get a little stale. You usually expect concrete floors, community tables, reclaimed wood, metal, exposed ceilings, and those chairs that seem to be everywhere. While La Doña has some of those things they also add decorative concrete blocks, beautiful murals, plywood, and a healthy dose of vibrant colors throughout. It’s a breath of fresh air and I hope to visit again soon to see if the beer matches the creativity of their branding.

Best Patio / Lake Monster Brewing Company

Lake Monster PatioI’ve been visiting Lake Monster since they opened and it took me this long to realize that their patio was a real gem. It’s tucked into the gaps of the Vandalia Tower complex which provides a fantastic setting for craft beers on a Minnesota summer evening. What put them over the top this year was the greenery. In the past they’ve seemed almost purely industrial but the trees and bushes have matured enough to soften the edges. Also, their umbrella game is on point!

Best Destination / Junkyard Brewing Company

Junkyard Brewing ExteriorSome people say that the journey is the destination. Those people never drove Interstate 94 from the Twin Cities to Moorhead to drink some craft beer at Junkyard. Not only do they have some of the best beer in the state, they’ve got a killer taproom and a fantastic patio. They’ve also just expanded so there is no better time to visit. While you’re there you can hop across the border and visit Drekker which really makes the journey laughable in the face of the destination.

Best Vibe / Bang Brewing Company

Bang ExteriorI’ve given Bang three awards and I’ve only done this three times! It’s also the second time they’ve won Best Vibe. There may be a little recency bias at play here since my wife and I just visited and I fell in love with their taproom all over again. I always take out of town visitors to Bang and it’s primarily because they’ve created a vibe like none other and I’ve finally realized it’s their consistency that does it for me. I always get a great beer, my toes never stop tapping, and there is usually the perfect amount of people to create an energy that is unmatched.

Best Surprise / Able Seedhouse + Brewery

Able Seedhouse TaproomAble was the last brewery I visited in Northeast Minneapolis and it’s a damn shame. They’ve quickly become one of my go to breweries in the area. I love the minimalistic style, gorgeous brick building, and solid beers. I’m shocked these guys aren’t mentioned more often but maybe it’s better that way! It was one of my most visited breweries of the year and it’ll be a regular for me for some time to come. Next time you’re in Northeast, put Able on your agenda.

Best Food / Urban Growler Brewing Company

Urban Growler InteriorUrban Growler holds a special place in my heart as one of the first craft breweries my wife and I visited and their food and beer played a critical role in inspiring me to embark on this project. They were the first brewery to make me think that I was missing out on something special. Since they’ve opened, their menu has expanded and I’ve never been disappointed. It doesn’t hurt that their building is beautiful, the patio is great, and they make desserts with their beer!

Best Innovation / Wild Mind Artisan Ales

Wild Mind TapsWhile their beers aren’t for everyone you can’t deny they are innovative. I visited Wild Mind and I could count on one hand the beers on their tap list and now that same list is massive and daunting! They are constantly refreshing their selection and some of their beers are almost two years in the making! Sour beers are one of my favorite styles so this is a slam dunk for me but if you’re not too fond of them I still think I could find a couple of beers that would change your mind. For the extra adventurous consider joining their Forgotten Barrel Society which nets you ten members only bottles throughout the year as well as a whole host of other perks!

Best Individual Beer / HammerHeart (Hokan’s Fatherhood Edition)

HammerHeart Hokan's Fatherhood EditionI’ll never forget the second time I tasted Hokan’s Fatherhood Edition. The first time was when I visited the HammerHeart taproom and while I listed it as my favorite beer of the night I think it got lost in all the other great brews I had. The second time I got to enjoy it all on it’s own and it was a special moment! I’ve had a ridiculous amount of different beers at this point so for one to blow me away is a real testament to its quality. It’s simple to describe, they take their already great Hokan’s Brown Ale and add cold press from UP Coffee Roasters. Let it warm up slightly and it’s deliciously complex. Anything but simple!

Best Beer / Barrel Theory Beer Company

Barrel Theory BeerSimply put, if you like good beer you’ll like Barrel Theory. If you like IPAs, you’ll love them! That style generally makes up at least half of their selection and the beers that fill the gaps in the tap list have never disappointed. As far as quality of beer I think there are few places better to belly up to the bar and order a craft beer. They are one of the cornerstones of the Minnesota beer scene and I’d be hard pressed not to recommend them to anyone that asks what the best beer in the state is. With such high quality, these guys aren’t going anywhere.

Best Taproom / Bent Paddle Brewing

Bent Paddle is so great that they’ve revitalized a neglected Duluth neighborhood, and with their new taproom they’ve graduated from a brewery with great beer to a destination brewery with absolutely no downside. I’m not even sure where to start. They’ve got a magnificently long bar, a porch style patio, and several unique seating areas that mesh together in a truly cohesive package. Their attention to detail is unrivaled and I feel like they’ve really reset the bar for Minnesota taprooms. If you had visited their old space it’s really not a fair comparison. I’d be lying if I said I haven’t considered driving up to Duluth just to visit Bent Paddle! It’s that good.

10K Brewing

December 11, 2018

I’ve always enjoyed hitting two birds with one stone. The first bird was a brewery we’d visited but I hadn’t written about and the second was an outdated Groupon that had been driving me crazy. Our car became the stone as our destination was put into Google Maps: 10K Brewing.

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Lake Monster Brewing Company

November 28, 2018

It just so happens that the breweries that I visit the most I tend not to write about. I’m always thinking that I can take photos and write notes the next time I visit, but I just never do. This year my wife was pregnant and as a result we weren’t planning on visiting many new breweries. I vowed to do any and all blogging activities for each brewery that we visited but had never taken the time to write about. The top of that list is a taproom that’s so close to where I work that I’ve visited them more than any other, Lake Monster Brewing Company.

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Earth Rider Brewery

November 15, 2018

Dinner at Va Bene Caffe has become a tradition that we perform every time we visit Duluth, which is usually a couple of times a year. Towards the end of each meal the conversation leads to a discussion on where we will go for drinks afterwards. Only a pair of brewpubs remain that I’ve yet to visit but I’d heard about a spot across the Minnesota Wisconsin border that I had to try: Earth Rider Brewery. Continue Reading…

Lake Superior Brewing

September 11, 2018

It was just our luck that the weekend we had planned in Duluth would turn out to be cold and rainy. The weather had been warm all week at home and a rain drenched run from our car to the hotel wasn’t quite what we had in mind. Luckily there is one hobby that we share that cares little about the weather. A short drive later we were dodging raindrops on our way into Lake Superior Brewing.

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Hop & Barrel Brewing

September 6, 2018

I don’t think it would be a shock to anyone to learn that I visited a brewery for my birthday. Though, it may be a surprise that I went to one in Wisconsin. My wife and I tried something different this year. We each decided on a miniature road trip and I decided I wanted to have lunch in Hudson and then work our way up the Wisconsin side of the St. Croix river. While we were in town, it only made sense to follow our lunch with a couple of drinks at Hop & Barrel Brewing.

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Junkyard Brewing Company

August 29, 2018

We’d spent the better part of the afternoon in Fargo, North Dakota. It was now time to venture across the Red River into Moorhead, Minnesota. Our last stop of the day was my most anticipated. I’d had many of their beers, seen photos of the taproom, and it was time to try them at the source. A quick drive later we rolled into the dusty parking lot next to Junkyard Brewing Company.

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Drekker Brewing Company

August 28, 2018

If you’re in tune at all with the craft beer scene in Minnesota and the surrounding area there are a couple of breweries that are a serious drive from the Twin Cities that command a lot of attention. Two of those are in the Fargo-Moorhead area and our plan was to visit both of them. With our palates primed from Fargo Brewing we jumped into the car for a few minutes and headed to our next stop Drekker Brewing Company.

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Fargo Brewing Company

August 27, 2018

When my friend Mitch texted me and asked what I was doing the next Saturday I knew what was on his mind. He wanted to visit a brewery, the only question was which one. After he mentioned the Fargo-Moorhead area I knew what breweries he had in mind, and I knew that we would have to take full advantage of our time. At 8AM he arrived at my home in Bloomington and we began the long trek to Fargo Brewing Company the first stop of our jam-packed day trip.

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