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TDG Offseason, Off topic - GN’s top 10 best breweries in Minnesota

The best breweries you need to check out in the state of Minnesota

Here is the money list. As I stated in the introductory beer post, I have been to a lot of breweries. All together, I’ve probably hit up 75 breweries around the country, with the vast majority of those being in the metro. But while I’m no expert I do believe that experienced enough to have a firm opinion and one that I’m willing to share.

So below is my list of the top 10 breweries in the state. Please comment below with your favorites or reaffirm what I already know to be factual.

10 - LTD

Address: 8 8th Ave N, Hopkins, MN

I’ve told people for a while now that LTD, in Hopkins, is sneaky good. It is a brewery that nobody in the beer nerd world really talks about, but they make some really good stuff. Every time you stop in you’ll see new things on tap and they have a ton of variety.

Beer Recs: Their Patio Slammer series and Emily’s Dream sour series are always great summer choices. My favorite of theirs has been the Hazy Dream. And they always have one or two barrel aged things on tap, some have been quite good.

9 - 56 Brewing

Address: 3055 Columbia Ave NE, Minneapolis

I’ve come to like 56 more recently and they are a great brewery with good beer. Local, local, local is their thing as they try to source their ingredients locally and want to make an impact where they are located. Fun facility where they can host small events and they have good deals on growler/crowler fill and HH on Mondays and Tuesdays respectively.

Beer Recs: ‘Ssippi Squeeze if one of my favorites here and I had their Big 4 anniversary IPA recently that was the best I’ve tasted from 56. Mostly an IPA brewery, venturing into some sours and summer crushable beers. They do it well.

8 - Surly

Address: 520 Malcolm Ave SE, Minneapolis

Once again a hat tip to the brewery that started it all for the craft beer nerds in Minnesota. Surly was not only one of the first small batch brewers in Minnesota but they were the catalyst for changing laws allowing brewers to serve their own beer in their own taproom. Now they have a beautiful, large facility in Minneapolis and are churning out beers for the midwest.

A visit to the brewery will give you several unique options besides their regular canned beers with experimentals on tap to try.

Beer Recs: Darkness (particularly Barrel Aged) is always a fantastic choice. For their regular stuff, I enjoy Xtra Citra the most.

7 - Wild Mind Ales

Address: 6031 Pillbury Ave S, Minneapolis

Now we are getting into the funky stuff. Wild Mind will give you a great variety of beers and some styles you may have never tried before. A yummy Double IPA next to an Elderflower wild ale, a dirty chai stout, a grissette and so on. They do the funky and the menu is one of the best parts of Wild Mind. The facility isn’t huge but the colors are great and I’ve always loved it when I show up here.

Beer Recs: It is hard to say because things are always so different. I had a Blueberry Maple Pancake sour once that was elite. Velvet Crush IPA (or DDH Velvet Crush) is often on tap and one of my favorites here. But try something new here.

6 - Dangerous Man

Address: 1300 2nd St NE, Minneapolis

I’ve always loved the venue at DM and thought their beers were fine. But they’ve really grown on my and stepped up their game in the last several months (or maybe I’m just learning). Very well known for their Peanut Butter Porter but they always have a LOT of beers on tap for you to choose from, currently with 17 beers on tap according to their website.

Beer Recs: This past fall I fell in love with a number of their double stouts, so any of their stouts are worth trying. In the summer I’d give any of their milkshake IPAs a shot too. Some of these are better than others, but absolutely worth a try.

5 - Fair State

Address: 2506A Central Ave NEMinneapolis

In the brewery hub of NE, Fair State is incredibly popular and they make great beers. Of the flagship, regularly distributed beers around the metro, Fair State may have the best lineup. I don’t love lagers but their Vienna lager is very good. Mirror Universe and Giantsbane make for a great IPA and double stout respectively. For a sour, especially one for those of us who are not knee deep into sours, Roselle is great. Spirit Foul and Pahlay are more seasonal but also elite. (Drinking Double Spirit Foul with friends one night and it was better than the elite east coast IPAs that we were also drinking that night.)

Then you show up at the tap room to get variants of Roselle or Giantsbane as well as many other sours, IPAs and stouts. They do them all very well. Looking at the current tap list, I may be making a trip there this afternoon.

Beer Recs: Spirit Foul is one of my local favorites, period. Pahlay is one of my favorite local summer seasonal beers with Mirror Universe currently on tap and outstanding.. But Fair State really makes everything well. Any stout variant that they have on tap is highly recommended as well as any variant on Roselle.

4 - Forager

Address: 1005 6th Street NW, Rochester

And we finally get something that not only isn’t on the west side of the metro, but isn’t even in the Twin Cities. Forager is one you may not have heard of, but it is an outstanding brewery down in Rochester. So what do they offer? Well, in addition to their outstanding beers, they also are profusely praised for their food. But this is a beer post.

Forager ventures into all kinds of areas of beer. Their Gummies series of sours is always unique and outstanding, note that they are actually using Gummy bears. They make a number of pastry stouts that are big and bold and delicious. And don’t leave without trying whatever IPA is on tap.

Beer Recs: Anything that’s on tap in the Gummies series or a pastry stout. The stouts can be really sweet sometimes but they are unique.

3 - Junkyard

Address: 1416 1st Ave N, Moorhead

We go from the SE to the NW part of the state. Junkyard is out of Moorehead and they make great beers up there (distributed every other week to the Twin Cities). Technically this is the only brewery on the list that I haven’t actually been to, but I love their beers and have heard great things about the brewery.

Junkyard bring crowlers down to the Twin Cities every other week and quite often there is a line in the store waiting for the crowlers to be put on the floor. They don’t last long. This is at or near the top of my list of breweries to visit next and a road trip will be happening soon.

Beer Recs: They always have new New England IPAs coming out (Vincent Vega possibly being my favorite) and if you can get your hands on any variation of Super Slurp, you really should.

2 - Blackstack

Address: 755 Prior Ave N, St Paul

These guys make great IPA after great IPA, the biggest complaint is that you rarely see the same IPA twice. Granted they’ve only been open for 2 years, but I cannot wait for Wavy, Wavier, Face Tats, Cash Only, Dad Jokes, Belly come back out again.

They’ve made some great sours (Hookahs and Blow was amazing) and they are knocking IPAs out of the park at a higher clip than the 2019 Twins.

But I love this brewery, I’ll buy whatever they distribute and I have probably been to their place 15 times (or more).

Beer Recs: Whatever is on top for IPAs and sours. The sours can vary in elitness but the IPAs are fantastic. If I were going today I would try the Beauty Sleep gose and I highly recommend Loud Pack, the DDH that’s currently on tap. Soul Lao’d is a really interesting beer, I suggest a small pour just to try it.

1 - Barrel Theory

Address: 248 East 7th Street, Saint Paul

And we get to the absolute best brewery in the state. Barrely Theory has a cool place and what makes them stand out is that every single beer they make is elite. Do they make the best IPAs in the state? Probably (but Blackstack is close). Do they make the best berliners? Probably, at least the most consistent. And do they also make great stouts that are worth standing in line for? Yup.

I believe that I have had 60 of their beers and have not been disappointed in any single one.

Beer Recs: Rain Drops is often on tap and a great IPA. Anything DDH that they have on tap is a must. Then whatever tickles your fancy, you really cannot go wrong here. Currently on tap, I would suggest Flame of Anor, Ran Drops and MPG.

Honorable Mention:

  • Modist
  • Eastlake
  • LynLake
  • 12 Eyes

The one brewery I want to visit and try is Drastic Measures. Expect them to be a known and sought after beer in the near future.

There you have my list. What did I miss?