I have a particular affinity for river towns. I’m not talking Paris, although I love that city for many reasons and the Seine is one of them, I’m referring to small American towns. Most of these places followed a similar trajectory. They were born from the marriage of commerce and convenience. In the modern era of unparalleled freight options most have lost their identity and forced to strike a new course. What’s left is a stock of historic brick buildings and a whisper of the past. It’s a place for us to visit to be nostalgic for a time we never lived. Hastings, Minnesota is one such town, home to Spiral Brewery.
I stepped out of my car. To my left the High Bridge stretched across the Mississippi—a copse of brick buildings in its shadow. The late September sun ceded its warmth to a cool autumn evening. Spiral sits in the East Second Street Commercial Historic District. There are thirty-five commercial buildings comprising an area that resisted change following the second world war. It’s a gorgeous example of late nineteenth century buildings. Keep in mind, not only do they not build structures like this anymore, they almost can’t. The craftsmen that existed back then—bricklayers, metalworkers, carpenters—don’t exist anymore. Fitting that a new variety of craft has returned.
Spiral has a large rectangular taproom. Their bar welcomes you, a bulwark to the brewhouse that sits proud on one half of the room. Large timber posts stretch to the stamped metal ceiling. I’m fairly certain this building isn’t on the historic register, but you still get a taste of it from the adjacent buildings. One wall is a light stone, the other brick. I was meeting friends of mine who I spotted near the back of the room. With a Foxtoberfest in hand I waved to them and took a seat.
A local singer, songwriter, and guitarist named Hailey James accompanied our conversation. I don’t generally visit a brewery for live music, but Hailey surprised me—not only her abilities but her age. I overestimated it, but once she started to sing about young love it started to make sense. Credit to Crea for guessing within a year or two of her age! The other topic of conversation was Jason’s crush on a local photographer that he recognized was in the room. Still not sure if he’s met him, but for his sake I hope so.
Time washed over us. I was able to peek at their rooftop patio before the sun disappeared. It would be a lovely view except that it’s dominated by an electrical transformer station. In the past this would be the perfect vantage point to admire the unique namesake of Spiral Brewing, the Spiral Bridge. There’s still views of the High Bridge though, and it’s hard to complain about a patio in any form. The Monet skies helped. This fall, set aside a day and take a walking tour of Hasting’s historic buildings (62 in total). After a day with the past, finish with a fresh pint on Spiral’s patio to ponder the future.