On an early December evening Samantha and I were in our car headed northwest to knock the last couple of breweries off of our Northern Ale Guide list. That day the destination was Fergus Falls where the furthest brewery that remained was located. It was a long drive and under the darkness of the night we arrived at Union Pizza & Brewing Co.
There was no question we were in the right place based on the facade of the building and the address (Union and Lincoln). Once we entered memories flashed me to my time in high school working at Jimmy’s Pizza in New Prague. After reminiscing hazily, Samantha snapped me back and directed me to the restaurant’s seating area. We rounded the corner and I saw the bar and taproom open up behind it. It was larger than I expected based on the outside. We chose a booth in the corner and I craned my neck at the chalk wall which contained their menu.
We decided to share a Margherita pizza and then we each ordered one of their house beers. Shortly after, our mason jars arrived filled to the brim with ice cold craft beer. I chose their Jeff Davis Porter and as I took the first couple of sips I took a better look at my surroundings. The union in Union Pizza & Brewing suddenly made even more sense when I noticed the American theme used throughout the room. There were flags hanging from the ceiling, pictures of presidents and other historic figures on the walls, and just a general touch of americana throughout. Specifically, the theme focuses on one of the co-owner’s love of the civil war period, and the porter I was drinking was cleverly named after one of Ulysses S. Grant’s horses!
As I finished my first beer I hailed the waitress to order my second. They had four beers on the menu but the APA had run out so I ordered the Traveler IPA. Very fitting! It had a fruity hop aroma. Its flavor was dry, bitter, and quite hoppy. The wood fired pizza was tasty and we enjoyed a nice quiet evening in their taproom. It had a couple of groups of locals and only a few people at the bar by the time we left right around closing time.
If I ever get the chance I’d like to come back and try some of their other beers. The IPA was good but I wasn’t a big fan of the porter which was borderline sour, lending me to believe something was a bit off with the batch. I’ve had friends visit and recommend it to me so I can’t imagine it’s this way year round. They have twelve different craft beers on tap, three of which are their own and the others are miscellaneous others from Minnesota and North Dakota. It’s a nice option for locals that want to grab something a little different, and nothing goes together with beer quite like pizza.
Union Pizza is joining a growing effort in their local community to replace chain stores with locally owned businesses. This is a noble goal that really gets at the heart of one of the things I love about craft beer culture in Minnesota. The returned focus to things made locally and capturing the essence of community that used to be present in every small town. The next time you find yourself well north on I-94 stop into Union Pizza & Brewing Co. to enjoy a wood-fired pizza and a local beer.