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.
One good thing about Facebook is that it recommends things that match your interests. It will also tell you about events your friends are interested in attending. Between that cross section, we typically get informed about a lot of beer related events. On an early July evening my wife informed me that she found an event on Facebook just across the river from us called Bluegrass & Beer. Like peanut butter and jelly, a match made in heaven. Later that week we were strolling down a path in the Caponi Art Park with the distant sounds of a fiddle dancing off the leaves.
My coworker and I had gotten this far so we couldn’t turn back now. Navigating through the maze that is Los Angeles had brought us to an industrial area of the Atwater Village neighborhood, but finding our destination was proving a little difficult. We finally spotted a warehouse with a warm yellow glow and once we parked we breathed a collective sigh of relief. The Pub at Golden Road was now our reality.
On a Saturday morning in early December, Samantha and I were sitting at a small table in New London’s Middle Fork Cafe. We were enjoying a small brunch in preparation for our the next taproom on our list and trading stories about our travels from the night before. The food was good but once I finished my sandwich the mind switched gears to beer. We paid and then took to the cold streets to arrive at our next stop, Goat Ridge Brewing Company, just as they opened at noon.
In late November we were settling into winter and trying to prepare for the months ahead. When our friends Megan and Mitch asked if we wanted to visit the newly opened Bald Man Brewing we jumped at the chance. After all, we needed another stamp for our Northern Ale Guide and our list was quickly dwindling.
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.
After a night of drinking, a rare opportunity to sleep in, and a breakfast of french toast we hit the road. Because our next taproom wasn’t open until the afternoon we needed to kill some time. We made a day of it by visiting a couple of apple orchards (tasty hot cider and crispy donuts), ate lunch at the historic Hubbell House, got a very informative tour and beer samples from Tod Fyten at nearby Mantorville Brewery, and took in Winona from the Garvin Heights overlook. After a full morning working up a thirst we finally arrived at our destination: Wenonah Brewing Company.
We’re experiencing a renaissance of craft beer across the country and in 2016 Minnesota really hit its stride. With a new brewery opening weekly there were a glut of new breweries to visit and a many others establishing themselves within the community. Since it was my first full year blogging and after visiting over fifty breweries, I figured it would be worthwhile to do a recap of my year in Minnesota craft beer and hand out some awards for my own personal favorites. Read on to see the winners!
Hoping once again to use our Northern Ale Guide and an expired Groupon we joined up with our friends Mitch and Megan to make a trip into Minneapolis for yet another weeknight brewery trip. This time we were headed to Harriet Brewing which is located in the Longfellow neighborhood of Minneapolis.
Last Friday evening Samantha and I were looking for something to do and decided to head down to 612Brew. On our way there we stopped by one of our favorite food trucks turned restaurant; Cafe Racer Kitchen. This was particularly fitting because the last time we were at 612 it was to evaluate them for our wedding. After filling our stomachs with some delicious Latin American cuisine (try the pulled chicken) we made the short drive to Northeast, Minneapolis.