I’ve got a bad habit about buying a Groupon and forgetting to use it. There is even a brewery that closed after I bought one and I was unable to redeem it. On a brisk Autumn evening my loving wife informed me that we were down to the last day of my latest purchase and I was bound and determined not to let it expire. Unfortunately, she wasn’t able to join me as she was preparing for a dinner party the following evening. So I called my father, never one to turn down a free beer, and we headed to Broken Clock Brewing Cooperative.
I’d heard very little about Broken Clock, but I knew they were located in Northeast, Minneapolis. Google Maps led us directly to construction and then got thoroughly confused at my insistence to take a different route. After some squirreling around we drove down a familiar alley that opened up to a very large gravel parking lot. I had been here one year earlier at a 56 Brewing event which I would later learn has a slick new taproom nearby. A lone light illuminated a lonely garage door and as we approached the taproom I reflected on my last visit to this building. I knew that it’d be cozy inside and upon entering I realized my memory had not failed me.
The Broken Clock taproom is small. They had two high tops with room for a handful of people, a bar, and a table. It’s standing room only, no chairs, and they were a lot busier than I expected. This was aided in large part by the fact that it was the last day to use their Groupon, something many visitors had in common with myself. It was an intimate evening and a rather charming change from the busy taprooms in the rest of Northeast. They’ve got none of the polish, yet I could feel the passion in each of the brewers that were behind the bar and tending to their brews during our visit. No matter where you stand you’re only feet away from barrels and fermenters. The cold concrete floor, equipment packed in every nook in cranny, and constantly dodging the cooperative members as they go about their tasks solidify this is a living breathing space where hard work is happening. It’s no nonsense and quite refreshing.
Their business model is also quite a bit different than the norm, and it’s embodied by the word cooperative. I’d recommend reading the full story on their website, but I’ll provide a brief overview. They are entirely owned and operated by their 300+ members and they all share a small part of the profit at the end of the year. Each one gets a vote in how they are operated and they have various membership levels that come with different perks. Members at the Brewer level have a whole host of brewing related benefits and have additional input on the beers available on tap. The tap list itself lists who inspired the beer and they have a number associated with each that I’m guessing corresponds to a specific member number. I was not able to confirm this last part, but it’s a good guess.
My father and I carved out a spot near the bar and we each dove into our flight of five beers. With six total on their tap list we were told to omit one and they’d take it from there. I chose the Community Kölsch, 2:Brew Coffee Kölsch, Pocket Watch Pecan, Stand Up Stout, and Lavender Uprising IPA. Four of the five beers earned a star in my tasting notes which is a rare sight for any flight. Each Kölsch was starred but the 2:Brew in particular was a nice twist on the formula. They add Ethiopian Cold Press Coffee before kegging which results in a clean, crisp, coffee flavored beer. The Pocket Watch Pecan was aptly named in regards to the setting as well as the flavor. It had notes of praline pecans, brown sugar, and biscuits. The Lavender Uprising was as advertised, rich in lavender aroma and had wonderful floral notes to cut the hop bitterness.
If you’ve wanted to visit a taproom where you’re warmed by an industrial heater which blows away your tap list then Broken Clock is your place. If you enjoy going to the bathroom through an unmarked door and washing your hands in the brewer’s sink then Broken Clock is your place. If you like to drink great beer in an extremely intimate setting full of character and energy then Broken Clock is your place. They are a refreshing addition to the Minnesota craft brewing industry that I highly recommend.