There are very few things where people in my life will seek out my opinions. Gopher sports, to some degree, and where are the best breweries or cocktail bars in the Twin Cities. I’m clearly no expert on any of the previously mentioned, but I’m pretty passionate about both and spend considerable time & energies into them.
I’m no foodie, I don’t enjoy going to the next fancy eating establishment. But give me a tip on someplace with elite cocktails or a new brewery? I’m IN! Let’s go.
Having been to approximately 60 breweries in the Twin Cities, I think I have a pretty good idea of what places are making exceptional beers and which places are fairly banal. So with that, I’m going to give you my NCAA Final Four Minneapolis (Twin Cities) drinking guide for the weekend.
So there are in the neighborhood of 90 breweries in the Twin Cites metro and I have been to roughly 2/3 of them. In utter cruelty the one that is actually the closest to my house is hands-down the worst brewery I’ve been to. I won’t get into which one that is, but I digress. Here are the breweries, in my opinion, that are absolutely the best.
1 - Barrel Theory - St. Paul (downtown)
Easily the best beer in the Twin Cities but if you’re staying in Minneapolis, you’ll have to travel to the other side of the river. Excellent IPAs, Stouts and Sours make this a destination for any craft beer nerd.
What’s On Tap - DDH Shooter McGavin might be my favorite beer that they have made, you must try this. Bookoo Berries is a great berliner and good enough I sent it out to a friend on the East Coast. Behind Hazel Eyes is a yummy stout, though kinda sweet.
2 - Black Stack - St. Paul (nearish 280 and University)
These guys make great IPAs of the hazy/juicy variety. They also make really good sours to make them more than a one-trick pony.
What’s On Tap - On One and Two On would be my strongest recommendations at the moment. Soul Lao’d is really an interesting IPA that has a little kick to it at the end. Sadly just one sour on the menu at the moment, but you won’t regret it.
3 - Fair State - Minneapolis (NE)
Now we get to someplace that’s on the west side of the river. Fair State is in the NorthEast neighborhood and there are probably a dozen other breweries within 1.5 miles of FS. Excellent selection of beers.
What’s On Tap - there’s a lot currently on tap that I’d recommend. Giantsbane is good, The Duke of Bakesforshire is a unique pecan pie stout that is sweet but I really like. Mirror Universe is very popular as well. If you could only try one, I might suggest the Razz Roselle. But they have a lot on tap that is quite good.
4 - Dangerous Man - Minneapolis (NE)
Not far from Fair State and would make for a great second brewery on your tour is Dangerous Man. A cooler facility than Fair State, a chill vibe and good beers. Known mostly for their peanut butter porter and their milkshake IPAs, DM is great.
What’s On Tap - I kinda don’t love their current tap list. I think the Key Lime Pie milkshake IPA is worth trying. I have not had the new Trickier Hazy IPA, Tangerine Lassi Sour or the Cara Cara Honey Gose. I’d like to try them all, but can’t speak to how good they are or are not.
5 - Modist - Minneapolis (North Loop)
I’m not 100% sold on Modist being 5th and easily could be persuaded to put Wild Mind. From Modist you can easily walk to Fulton or First Draft beer (self-pour tap room with 40-50 craft brews on tap). But they make some high quality beers and if I’m making a recommendation to an out of towner, I’d include Modist.
What’s On Tap? - I would definitely do their fruit punch milkshake IPA, Dream Yard is one of the best flagship IPAs in the market.
Perhaps you are from out of town and have heard of places like Surly, Fulton and Summit. All fine places and the actual facility at Surly is beautiful. But really the only one I’d recommend visiting would be Surly.
Moving on to the hard stuff and there are some really amazing cocktails being made around the Twin Cities. Here are a few of my favorites.
1 - Tattersall Distilling - Minneapolis (NE)
Truly one of my favorite places in the Twin Cities. Tattersall is a distillery who has released a 2-year old rye, bourbon is currently aging but they have really hit home runs with their wide array of liqueurs and gins. I have at least 7 Tattersall products at home that I use for making my own cocktails. And I am often playing on their app, looking for new recipies to try. Oh and they have a popular and elite cocktail room in NE. Hit up Fair State and Tattersall together, if you are so inclined.
What to Drink - anything. Blood and Snow, Negroni and Bourbon Manhattan stick out to me.
2 - Marvel Bar - Minneapolis (Warehouse/North Loop)
Super cool bar where the entrance is hiding in the back and it is below Bachelor Farmer restaurant (if you’re looking for a great place to eat). Before I was able to get to Tattersall, this was my favorite bar in the Metro. Still right there. It will be packed, you may be waiting outside to get in, but it is really cool.
What to Drink - talk to the servers or bartenders, they are really good at talking to you about what you like and making elite suggestions.
3 - Young Joni’s Back Bar - Minneapolis (NE)
Located in the ally between Young Joni’s and Dangerous Man (another solid bar combination), you’ll find a single light and eventually you’ll see that there’s a door. The Back Bar is unique and very much a speakeasy style bar. Eclectic chairs and glasses and great drinks. In fact they still have some elite bourbons in bottles (but you’ll pat an lot to try them).
What to Drink - menu changes, be sure to read the paper though.
4 - Eat Street Social Club - Minneapolis (S Mpls, almost Uptown)
They’ve been making great cocktails for several years and still are one of the best in spite of a more crowded market.
What to Drink - Suzey Says
5 - Butcher and the Boar - Minneapolis (downtown)
Finally something downtown. Butcher and the Boar has really good food and mostly are on this list because they have a great selection of bourbons.
What to Drink - Black Manhattan and The Counselor
There are more places with recommending for drinks but these are really the ones that stand out to me.