It was the first day above freezing. My wife and I were out looking for a new place to live. I’ve owned a home in Bloomington, Minnesota for 13 years. With a baby in the car and another on the way our plans to move out to the country and settle down were in motion. Location is critical, not too far from work, not too far from the Twin Cities, and not too far from our families. And if there was a brewery nearby? A bonus. That’s why we were in Inver Grove Heights, and why we had pulled into Inver Grove Brewing Company.
Inver Grove Brewing was on my radar. They are the sister location to Lakeville Brewing Company, a brewery I’ve visited several times and always enjoyed. They’ve got great food and some solid beer. I expected the same from Inver Grove Brewing. And we weren’t the only ones that wanted to get out of the house – it was packed. They seated us in the dining room after a few minutes of waiting, next to a large group of birthday partygoers.
The dance began. I ordered a flight of four beers, we selected our meals, and put our order in. My choice was easy: Fettuccine Alfredo with Chicken. It’s what I’d had at their Lakeville location and it’s never disappointed. The flight arrived in a hurry, four tulips in a simple wooden flight. It was hectic. I’m always juggling at a brewery. I’ve got a camera, a phone, my notes, our daughter’s bag with utensils and toys. It’s a mess. At a brewpub it can be worse, you’ve got menus, flight boards, and food. It stood out to me, mostly because of the children from the birthday party running around our table adding to the chaos.
Please indulge me for a moment. There is a debate in the craft beer world on whether you should bring children to breweries. I’m firmly in the yes you should camp. It’s one of the reasons I love craft beer. It’s a friendly community with welcoming spaces. People feel safe bringing their families and their dogs. These aren’t bars – I dislike bars – these are taprooms. However, every public accommodation comes with a set of unwritten rules. I’m no Larry David, but I come closer than most. A brewpub is a restaurant. If you bring children, they shouldn’t be running around. It’s about parenting and common courtesy. Read the room, look at the waitresses faces when they are tripping over your children playing on the floor, and look at the annoyed faces of the customers around you. This is not a criticism of Inver Grove Brewing at all, only our reality.
All brewpubs live on a spectrum between restaurant and brewery. Inver Grove is well into the restaurant end. Three quarters of the space is reserved for restaurant style seating while the rest is the bar area. If you dropped me into it blindfolded I would think it was any restaurant with a bar, but the view of the brewhouse gives away the game. It’s all steel blue and gray materials, consistent with their other location both in color and branding.
The beer met my expectations. They aren’t brewing cutting edge beers at Inver Grove Brewing and they shouldn’t be. I expect standard styles and a couple of beers that are tailing the recent trends. It’s exactly what I found. Walkable Honey Brown Ale, Nightshift Coffee Amber Lager, Backwaters Black IPA, and Pago Pago-Pineapple Imperial IPA. The coffee lager was well balanced with coffee and bright hop notes, but the Pago Pago stood out. A delicious pineapple punch; fresh juicy pineapple with a clean finish.
There is no way to sugar coat it, my food was a letdown. As I said, I’ve had the same dish several times in Lakeville and I was excited for it. Overcooked and mushy, under seasoned, in a soupy mixture of Alfredo sauce. For what it’s worth my wife said her meal was fine and my daughter’s fries tasted great.
You’d may read this and think I had a bad time. While not ideal, I was disappointed more than anything. I know they’ve got good food, I’ve had it. Maybe an off day at a busy place. They deserve a second chance. One day I will return and I hope they can deliver on my expectations. The internet is full of glowing reviews. Visit and make up your own mind, but watch your kids.