We haven’t taken this year’s Northern Ale Guide as seriously as we did last year. It’s looking like we’ll be lucky to finish half of the book, a far cry from the full stamping we previously notched. While snacking on delicious salsa at Pajarito in St. Paul our conversation naturally led us to where we should end our evening. It was only natural that we’d take a peak in the book and take the short drive to 12welve Eyes Brewing.
After leaving our car in a nearby ramp we descended to the street and entered their garden level taproom. They’ve got hardwood floors, subway tiles, contemporary sofas and chairs, a large central bar, and some beautiful murals adorning the walls. We walked straight ahead to order and craned our necks to read the digital tap list. Samantha instantly pointed out a Stranger Things reference: the He Likes it Cold, described as a Shadow Monster Smoked Porter. Once we worked out some details with the ale guide we each ordered a beer and went looking for a seat. With a full circle of the taproom complete we settled on a high top facing the bar.
It was at this point I noticed the coolest feature. All of their taps are connected to a pipe that descends from the ceiling and runs to an adjacent room. This results in seating that can completely surround the bar and adds a nice visual flare to the room. There were a couple of things that I wasn’t a fan of. The bar itself was lit poorly with the surrounding area being very bright. It seems like a purposeful choice but the opposite of what I’d expect and it took me awhile to realize what wasn’t meshing in my mind. Another small thing was that all of the high tops were haphazardly placed with chairs everywhere. It was probably more apparent to me because it was a quiet night and there wasn’t anyone sitting near us. These are small things, but for a taproom that is otherwise quite polished I was a bit surprised. However, their murals are fantastic and we sat beneath one featuring the three owners adorned with glasses (four eyes x three brewers = twelve eyes).
I tricked my wife into letting me have five drinks, most of which in the 4oz variety. The beers were the Mosaic Wheat IPA, Vienna Lager, Kiwi Berliner Weisse, Squashy Spice, and Legacy Chocolate Stout. I’ve still been on a malt kick so the lager really hit the spot, but I think I enjoyed the Squashy Spice the most. I would describe it as Christmas in a glass. The name hints to a big spice flavor and aroma with a real sweetness, perfect for a small sized taster but not for a full glass. The other beers were full of flavor but a little out of balance. Several were just too hoppy and maybe just a bit much for me on that night. There were no off flavors, just styles that didn’t mesh.
Overall we had a good time at 12welve Eyes Brewing. I love the attention to detail and you can certainly see the heart they poured into the taproom design. The seating is completely different than most breweries with a couple of areas that are more like mini lounges. If you’re going with a larger group getting one of these spots would create an interesting dynamic. Their logo is neat and they’ve got a creative name that’s quite outside of the norm. Parking is a bit of a pain. We had to pay to park in a ramp as there was no on-street parking. I’m not very familiar with that area of St. Paul so perhaps there are some options I don’t know about. It’s certainly a great spot for those that are biking or taking the Green Line. 12welve Eyes is one of the latest in a nice pocket of breweries in Lowertown, and I’m excited to see what the future brings.