There comes a point in each Minnesota summer where your family determines that it’s time to go “up north.” These two words evoke thoughts of rustic cabins, crystal clear glacial lakes, s’mores by the campfire, and early morning fishing trips for most residents of this four season state. There’s a new tradition that’s slowly encroaching into the nostalgic thoughts of those that make the drive: craft beer. So when my in-laws planned a trip to Lake Clitherall, I figured a visit to nearby Disgruntled Brewing was in order.
We left work early on the Friday before Labor Day to meet my sister in-law Jill and her husband David at the Disgruntled Brewing taproom. It was a little out of the way, but I was willing to make some exceptions for a beer after a hard week of work with a long weekend ahead. It was also a special Friday as it would be our last day at work for over a month. Our plans were to hit the northern end of the Superior Hiking Trail on Labor Day with the goal of reaching Duluth by the end of the month.
Snaking through an industrial area of Perham, dodging pot holes in a muddy gravel road, and craning our necks at a grove of grain bins, it was clear that this was going to be something different than our usual taproom experience. Upon arrival my headlights glinted off their sign out front. I chuckled and noticed it was built from bent and twisted pieces of metal. Seems like they were taking their name to heart!
The brewery and taproom is located in a large pole barn. Upon entering I started to feel a bit more at home. Wood and tin walls that are present in so many taprooms was also resident here, but the attention to detail of the decor was a step above what I’d come to expect in other small towns. While the taproom itself is cozy it opens up to a fairly expansive patio. If it were earlier in the day or there was better weather I would’ve loved to sit outside amongst the large conifers that dot it.
Jill and David were on the back wall and one beer in, so we brought our freshly purchased pizza to their table. I’m going to make a quick note here and say that if you haven’t tried pizza from Casey’s General Store you’re doing yourself a giant disservice. Simply put I believe they are one of the finest take out pizzas you can order. This is aided in no small part by the amount of mozzarella cheese they put on it. This just so happens to go excellent with beer.
Without hesitation I ordered a flight of six. I like to get a wide sense of the tap list and follow with a deeper look at the beers I’m more interested in. The six I started with were the Toasted Blonde Ale, Juicylicious North East IPA, The Utha Side Berliner Weisse, Numba Four Pale Ale, and Double Stuffed Stout. Out of the flight I marked the Toasted Blonde and Double Stuffed as my favorite. The Toasted Blonde had everything I was looking for: a bit of hop bitterness with a great malty backbone. It took me until my first taste to realize the Double Stuffed was named after the infamous cookie. While it had a clear artificial chocolate flavor, I couldn’t get over the Oreo aroma. Be ready to sip this one and a taster is probably the perfect size if you have trouble with super sweet beers.
My next beer was the Peanut Butter Porter. While my knees get weak for this kind of beer, and it was quite tasty, I think there are better options closer to home. Lastly was the Guvnor English Amber Ale. I keep going back to these types of beers since our trip to England. This one hit all the right notes and sufficiently evoked memories from across the pond. It was also my favorite of the night.
I wasn’t the only one to enjoy the beer at Disgruntled Brewing. Despite the name we felt very welcome (if you’re thinking of bringing your family it’s good to note that this brewery is 21+). While it wasn’t too busy there was still a bit of an energy. This was aided in large part to the two piece band playing in the corner. They won major props for playing a cover of Nights in White Satin by the Moody Blues. Not typically something you’d hear but it’s one of my favorites. This area of the state is hurting for choice in regards to craft beer but if any new breweries that crop up come close to what Disgruntled is offering the locals will be wise to welcome them with open arms. Worth the visit for sure, and I’ll be back next year!