Before our child was born, my wife and I were determined to hold on to as much of our previous life as we could. That’s why we were in a car driving north to spend the second week of our daughter’s life at a resort on Lake Clitherall. We’d taken her to the Minnesota State Fair when she was only 6 days old but now it was time for her first brewery, an environment with a lot less of a safety valve than massive fairgrounds with over 100,000 people. With some degree of trepidation I took hold of her carseat and stepped into the taproom of Alexandria’s Copper Trail Brewing.
Recently I’ve fallen in love with sitting at the bar. I never used to like it but now if I’m with only one other person I prefer it. In this case there was a spot on the corner where we could tuck our carseat. A win win! Before looking at the tap list we had to get situated with an abnormal amount of bags and other gear. Six months later I have learned that this has become my new normal. Since this was our first visit to Copper Trail I decided to build my own flight of four and my wife realized she could actually order beer. After nine long months of pregnancy she took full advantage!
The Copper Trail taproom is located in a modern strip mall on the outskirts of Alexandria. It’s a short drive from I-94 which makes for a convenient pit stop on the way up to the lake. Inside is your standard taproom decor. Wood floor, gray walls, airy ceiling, high tops, a small fireplace, and a large wooden corner bar that guards four shiny fermenters. The chairs at each table are different from your standard seats and provided a nice footprint for beer drinking!
It turns out that having a one week old baby with you prompts a lot of conversation! Before we had left I think a majority of the patrons had stopped in to take a peek at the little one. She continued to sleep, none the wiser. The bartenders in particular took an interest in her as well as my copious amount of notes and photographs. They were kind enough to offer us a crowler of beer to take with us, in honor of our newborn. It wouldn’t take us long to drink that once we got to the resort!
My flight was served on a flight board made of copper and wood with roman numerals burnt into it and a copper handle protruding from the center. One of the coolest flight boards I’ve seen! The four beers were the Runestone Rye, a Scottish Export called 19th Hole, Indigo Wheat, and S.M.A.S.H. Pale Ale called SmashWerks. The Indigo Wheat had a malty backbone with an extremely sweet finish and a heavy dose of blueberry aroma and flavor. My favorite of the four was the 19th Hole. It was a smooth, well balanced beer that had a light roasted malt character and a touch of caramel sweetness. Just what I expect in that style. After a short discussion on who would take the last shift in the car I ordered a Lucky Red and Glacier’s Edge White IPA. The red ale was one of my favorites with rich flavors and a creamy mouthfeel.
We had no idea that Smokin’ Brews & ‘Ques would be outside the taproom which would’ve definitely changed our lunch plans. Based on the aroma and the amount of people ordering it seemed like we missed out! They also offer pizzas which they cook in a small oven behind the bar. As a result I was continuously getting whiffs of delicious cheese throughout our visit. If you’re bringing someone that isn’t a huge fan of beer they also have drinks from the Northern Soda Company and offer a handful of beer cocktails as well.
I wouldn’t hesitate to visit Copper Trail the next time I’m driving through the area. The bartenders were super friendly, nobody flinched at our newborn (even when she briefly cried), and the beers were pretty dang good. Alexandrians should certainly count themselves lucky.