In early November we decided to visit my wife’s brother in Mankato for some dinner and drinks. We’ve been nudging him towards beer, but it’d been hard to get him to drop his REDD’s Apple Ale. With an upcoming tripped planned to Munich we officially had a good enough reason to get him to take the dive once and for all. So on a Monday evening we grabbed a quick bite and jumped over to Mankato Brewery.
I’d had Mankato Brewery’s beers prior to our visit, a couple times from the store and at a few beer tastings. I knew them to have approachable well brewed beer, but I’d never heard much about their taproom. I didn’t know what to expect, and as we arrived and parked outside a nondescript building I had a vision in my mind of what to expect. I couldn’t have been more wrong!
We walked through a short corridor and were then presented with a very cool taproom nestled in the corner of a giant warehouse. It’s decorated like most others (industrial wood and metal) but this time you’ve got a short wall separating you from a much larger brewing space. The dichotomy between these two areas is particularly striking, and with a rooftop space above the main area it creates a unique experience I’ve not found anywhere else.
We didn’t expect it to be very busy, and late on a Monday night we had the taproom basically to ourselves. There were a handful of people there when we arrived but they would leave shortly after we ordered our beer. There is a mix of high tops and regular tables next to the half wall with a u-shaped bar anchoring the lower level. We grabbed a table in the middle of the space and after explaining some of the beer styles to my brother in-law we approached the bar to order.
I got a flight of four beers which came on a circular flight board. None of the styles they had were too crazy and the ones I chose were the Leaf Raker Nut Brown, Crooked Rook Porter, Mad Butcher IPA, and Fresh Hopped IPA. While all of the beers were brewed well, the only one that really jumped out at me was the Mad Butcher. It had a mango aroma with heavy tropical fruit flavors. I’ve got it flagged as “very tasty” which is usually a good sign. I recommended the Organ Grinder to my brother in-law. It’s an amber ale which I’d had previously and is a really good introductory craft beer that he enjoyed quite a bit.
One unique beer that Mankato Brewery got a little press about is called BOOMCHICKAPOP. Popcorn Ale. It was a collaboration between the brewery and Angie’s. They ran out of it extremely quickly after release but I was lucky enough to try it earlier in the year. There is really no flavor of popcorn and it’s more of a farmhouse/saison with a malty backbone and corn sweetness. Quite refreshing and I’m hoping they’ll decide to brew it again this spring. Hopefully this time they’ll make a larger batch. You can read more about the beer on this great City Pages article.
If you’re located near Mankato and haven’t made it to Mankato Brewery you need to make an effort to get there. There is nothing super flashy about them, but the taproom was a great experience that I plan to visit again. They’ve got a stage where they host live music every Tuesday as well as a smattering of other days each month. Check their website for events. The next time I plan to align our visit with some music and really get the full taproom experience. I recommend you do the same!