I’m a planner by nature. When my free time is involved I rarely want to leave things up to chance. My wife and I had organized a trip to Duluth to test out our new baby backpack and while in town it was only natural that we’d stop at some breweries. During our drive, we had just discussed our plans for the evening when my wife spotted a sign for a brewery. In an unusual moment of spontaneity we dashed off the next exit and made our way to Three Twenty Brewing Co.
Driving through small towns is kinda my thing. On road trips ,when a stop is required that takes us into one, I enjoy deliberately taking wrong turns. It gives me a feel for the town and there are generally a handful of interesting buildings to wonder about. Pine City didn’t disappoint with an old A&W restaurant. The one with the pointy top! Not often would a building be made today with such a “pointless” feature, but it’s what gives these old buildings character.
Shortly after spotting the A&W we arrived at Three Twenty. It’s not natural for me to feel unwelcome after entering a brewery yet when I crossed the threshold carrying my daughter we received a handful of strange looks from the locals playing bingo. After scanning the taproom for children, and spotting none, I worried that we’d arrived at one of the few non-family friendly breweries in the state (e.g. Disgruntled). My fears were put to rest shortly after we took our seats near the front window. It wasn’t long before several people approached us to say hi to our baby and comment on her big blue eyes. My wife confirmed that they were family friendly after looking it up on their website. Phew!
Three Twenty is located in an over 100 year old building that’s seen a wide range of businesses over many years. They’ve renovated the interior with wood floors, darkly stained beams, a white ceiling, and blue walls. The bar has a stone facade, much like the building itself. Most of the seats were regular 4-tops with one long wooden bench running the length of the building. We were in two comfortable chairs near the front window low to the ground and facing a metal chest. This proved to be the ideal height for our daughter to stand against while banging her plastic toys.
We took turns approaching the bar and ordering flights, careful to coordinate each of them so that we would be tasting 8 of the 10 beers they had on tap. Each tap board was a block of wood with holes drilled into the live edge for the tasters. The beers: Topic Tropic IPA, Pert’Near Cream Ale, Genevieve’s German Lager, Happy Wife Porter, Broken Timber Brown, Pine Camp Pale Ale, and Chengwatana Copper. If I had to award a standout brew it would be Genevieve’s. This happened to be the very first lager they’ve ever brewed and it was a good one! It was a maibock, very clean, and fantastic pale malt flavors. In general, small town breweries focus on approachable styles. The key is whether they are brewed well, and Three Twenty is definitely doing that!
Three Twenty was a great spot to let our daughter burn energy while we got to taste a great selection of beers. The brewery’s name refers to the 320 area code which is a wide band covering most of central Minnesota. I’m guessing the residents are enjoying it because almost everyone had a hat, shirt, or sweatshirt from the brewery. Our stay wasn’t long but I see a lot more pit stops at Three Twenty in our future and they’ve convinced me to make more impromptu stops going forward!