Outstate Brewing Company

June 25, 2021

“I think it’s back here” I said. Gravel crunched beneath our car’s wheels as we rolled towards an industrial corner of Fergus Falls, Minnesota. “Where are you taking us?” my wife questioned. For as good as Google Maps is, there are times when scouting your destination draws dead. According to street view we were in the right place, but also according to street view it was a dead end. “There it is!” I spotted a gray wooden sign pointing our way. A riverside patio awaited us at Outstate Brewing Company.

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Copper Trail Brewing

June 21, 2021

The first brewery we took our daughter Ellen to was Copper Trail Brewing. She was a week old. Any parents reading know that you can’t drive too long until they get hungry. One of our stops lined up with Alexandria and the brewery wasn’t far off the highway. The old location was in strip mall, nothing remarkable but warm and inviting. When I saw pictures of their new taproom downtown we wanted to return. This time we had two newborns: our son Arlo and his cousin Henry.

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22 Northmen Brewing Company

June 8, 2021

“We’re going to have to stop soon” I said to my wife, my eyes darting into the rear view. When I was a boy scout we learned you should hike at the slowest person’s pace. Another adage could be that you can only road trip at the pace of the weakest bladder – our potty-trained toddler dictated our stops. My wife flipped her visor and peered into the mirror. “Yah, she’s squirming and he’s waking up” she responded. “What about there?” She pointed to a billboard for 22 Northmen Brewing Company. Kismet.

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Surly Brewing Co.

June 3, 2021

When you are parents of a toddler, you take advantage of the rare night alone. We were one month away from welcoming another little one so those nights were about to get rarer. Pair that with the pandemic and you can understand our headspace. It was likely that a late night in June would be the last chance we’d have to spend a night together. It’s was a date night at Surly Brewing Co.

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Portage Brewing Company

June 1, 2021

I stepped out of the car, the sun beating on my skin. The mask added a few extra degrees of heat to my bearded face. As my wife wrestled my daughter out of her car seat, I gazed across the street at our destination. A brilliant blue building rising from the street, with a glimpse of Leech Lake on the horizon. It took close to four hours in the car – an eternity with a crabby toddler – but we’d made it. It was time for craft beer from Portage Brewing Company.

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Awards

Minnesota Craft Beer: Best of 2020

May 10, 2021
Tap Traveler Drinking

What a crazy year for craft beer – and every other aspect of our lives. I took a serious step back in 2020. Between COVID-19 limiting travel opportunities, the birth of my son, a growing daughter, and starting a full renovation of a circa 1870s farmhouse, beer took a back seat. Yet I still had great craft beer memories and writing these awards can be cathartic. Let’s go!

A quick reminder of the stipulations. Every award must go to a brewery that I visited in the calendar year. I won’t give a brewery the same award two years in a row. If I’m missing one of your favorites I’d love to hear about it.

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Fort Point Ferry Building

June 19, 2020

“It’s not open yet, thirty more minutes.” I said. “Let’s grab something inside.” My wife and I were standing outside San Francisco’s Ferry Building. It was our last morning in the city. Most of our trips end with an early rise and a mad dash to the airport. I prefer leaving in the middle of the day. You get a proper goodbye and one last chance to see something you missed. On that morning we took the California street cable car from Nob Hill to the Embarcadero. I stood on the front right corner of the car – in complete bliss – like a dog with his head out the window. My plan was to ride the euphoria into craft beer. Fort Point would make me wait.

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Bartlett Hall

June 15, 2020

It was dusk. We were on the street outside the car rental’s parking garage. Our evening felt like a loss due to the break-in at Fieldwork. It was now the insurance company’s responsibility. A good meal was what we needed. A craft beer wouldn’t hurt either. Something close to our hotel would hit the spot – not in a long walk mood. Google told me there was a trendy gastropub with craft brews nearby. It was time to roll the dice on Bartlett Hall.

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Fieldwork Brewing Company

May 23, 2020

“It seems like a lot of breweries are in bad neighborhoods,” my wife said. It was the tail end of our day. We picked up the rental car in the morning and took it across the Golden Gate Bridge for an afternoon admiring the redwoods at the Muir Woods National Monument. I angled to take the long way around the bay. It added thirty minutes to our trip, but we’d get to drive across the Richmond–San Rafael Bridge (I like bridges) and gave us a chance to try one of Berkeley’s highest rated craft breweries, Fieldwork Brewing Company.

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Standard Deviant Brewing

May 10, 2020

If there is one thing that we organize our trips around more than craft beer it would be food. For our Honeymoon we went on a wonderful guided tour of Europe. We chose guided because planning a wedding was hard enough. It worked great but we had a fair amount of our meals to ourselves. Our plan was to wing it – something we’ll never do again. When you have two of your worst Italian meals in Venice and Rome, you’re doing something wrong. My wife chose Rintaro for our splurge dinner but we had some time to kill before the reservation. Why not go down the street to Standard Deviant Brewing for a drink or two?

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