Cheers! Lift Your Spirits with a Minnesota Beer, Wine or Cocktail
From golden ales and crisp ciders to fiery whiskeys and fragrant gins, the Land of 10,000 Lakes is turning into the land of 10,000 spirits.
You’ll find more than 100 breweries, 70 wineries and a growing list of distilleries in the state, with the epicenter of this boom clearly in the Minneapolis-Saint Paul metro region. The best and most notable can be found tucked into neighborhoods and outer communities, taking advantage of reclaimed warehouses, re-energized neighborhoods and scenic settings. Best of all, most have outdoor patios and chic gathering places to savor warm fall weekends sip by delicious sip.
Cross the Mississippi River along Hennepin Avenue, and you can’t miss the giant Grain Belt sign that rises from Nicollet Island. Consider it a supersized reminder that Minneapolis loves its beer. Northeast (or “nordeast”) Minneapolis, once known for factories and a thriving immigrant community, has evolved into a colorful arts district with Minnesota’s most concentrated spot for a DIY happy hour on foot or by bike.
Breweries in Minneapolis abound. Grab a German-style Stargazer black beer or kombucha at Bauhaus Brew Labs. Down at Able Seedhouse and Brewery, sample a Propers pub ale or ginger-spiced German lager. Kick back with a Maibock at 612Brew. Or take a tour with samples at Indeed Brewing Company and Taproom. Less than a mile away, Dangerous Man Brewing Company draws the curious with its hearty peanut butter porter.
Celebrate Minnesota’s favorite fall fruit and drink (gluten-free) at Sociable Cider Werks,with its dry, tart blends such as Fat Bike Mulled Apple or Rusty Chain cranberry apple ciders.
For imaginative cocktails, trendy Tattersall Distilling puts a twist on familiar drinks, such as a holiday punch with honey sage syrup and its own cranberry and wine-based Americano liqueurs made in the northeast arts district. Farther east in Minneapolis, Norseman Distillery’s more than two dozen spirits inspires cocktails with bitter, fiery and fruity profiles — or the sweet heat of its pineapple habanero gin.
Surly Brewing Company claims credit for sparking Minnesota’s beer boom with its effort to change Prohibition-era laws and serve beer on-site at craft breweries seven years ago. Besides tours and tasting beers like Todd the Axe Man and Xtra-Citra, Surly Beer Hall visitors can dine well by ordering duck pastrami, boar bratwurst, Vietnamese noodle salad and Lutheran funeral bars for dessert. A second-floor pizza joint serves New Haven-style charred-crust creations. Or just stick with beer. Surly consistently wins praise as one of the best 100 breweries in the world.
What’s more, the original Surly Brewing Company location, established in 2005 in Brooklyn Center, reopened in 2018 for “Old School Tours” — a chance to check out the brewery’s storied origins.
Decades before craft brewing hit its stride, Summit Brewing was already humming along with extra pale ale, pilsner and porter. Fans can head to its beer hall and patio near the Mississippi and Highway 5 (West Seventh Street) for movies, trivia nights and live music. Summit also refreshed its taproom this summer, so visitors may check out the Summit Brewing Ratskeller — a German-style beer hall with more beer taps and an expanded bar.
Follow the highway into Saint Paul to hit several other breweries, including Bad Weather Brewing, with weather-themed brews such as a Brit-style bitter brewed with Earl Grey tea; 12welve Eyes Brewing, a nanobrewery with Blueberry Milkshake IPA and the American IPA Hophthalmologist; and Flat Earth Brewing, where you can sip a Cygnus X-1 rye porter or pumpkin ale and take part in “Brain Night” in the former Hamm’s Brewery Complex.
There are also wineries and breweries aplenty in Stillwater. North of Saint Paul, raise a pint of golden sparkling ale or a Hop Dish IPA at Lift Bridge Brewing Company while kids quaff state fair-inspired mini-doughnut cream soda. The city’s popular Aamodt’s Apple Farm is joined with St. Croix Vineyards and the new Thor’s Hard Cider tasting room. As a bonus, you can pet goats, grab a tote of apples or box of cider doughnuts and sip a glass of wine or snappy cider while catching live music on the patio Saturday afternoons. Along Stillwater’s historic Main Street, Maple Island Brewing and Northern Vineyards Winery sit side by side with views of the St. Croix River.
Southwest of Minneapolis, Waconia lures visitors with a mix of spirited destinations. J. Carver Distillery’s tours and cocktail lounge offer a sample of its drinks, from autumn-ready apple brandy to Sevilla liqueur made with orange peel and vanilla. Waconia Brewing Company on Main Street serves Carver County Kölsch and chocolate peanut butter porter.
Wine lovers can enjoy a trio of vineyards within five miles: Parley Lake Winery, with a sculpture walk and art events, The Winery at Sovereign Estate on Lake Waconia’s north shore and Schram Vineyards Winery & Brewery.
Brews in the Burbs
With breweries moving into the suburbs, here are several of the new-and-noteworthy additions:
- Eagan’s Bald Man Brewing serves a delicious brown ale brewed with Minnesota honey.
- Roseville’s Bent Brewstiller has a dog-friendly vibe and a mission to offer visitors both cocktails and foamy pints made on-site.
- Shakopee Brewhall is a gem in a historic setting near the Minnesota River.
- Copperwing Distillery in St. Louis Park produces a special “vodskey. While you are there, head over to Steel Toe Brewing for a pint.
- The Wooden Hill Brewing Company in Edina has tasty beers along with sandwiches, pizzas and decadent Chailicious beer-and-ice cream floats.
- Eagan’s Union 32 Craft House offers a self-serve Wall of Beer dedicated to the best Minnesota craft beers.
- Maple Grove’s OMNI Brewing Co. offers well-known craft brews like Lake Day, Hopfull and Omnipotent, as well as brewery tours and weekly events like Yoga in the Taproom.
For information on more Minnesota breweries, visit the Minnesota Craft Brewers Guild.