Follow the Flavor to Craft Beers
The craft beer craze has brewed a fervent interest in locally produced beers, with the focus on the flavor. Both aficionados and newbies enjoy the experience of tasting and learning about different types of handcrafted beer. Just as travelers have planned getaways around visits to wineries, the new trend is to take a “brewcation,” adding brewery tours, tap rooms and brewpubs to the trip itinerary.
There are now dozens of small breweries across Minnesota, with more popping up each year. Many have tours and tap rooms. Brewpubs in towns across the state serve handcrafted beer along with lunch and dinner.
The Minneapolis-St. Paul area is a hot bed of brewing activity. Summit Brewing Company, with tours and a tap room, was ahead of the game when it was founded in 1986. There are now a half dozen Twin Cities breweries offering tours, and several tap rooms, some offering live music. At Vine Park Brewery, you can make your own beer. Flat Earth, Fulton, Harriet, Lift Bridge and Surly are some of the other breweries to check out in the Twin Cities area.
Minnesota road trips can include destination breweries, as well. The granddaddy of them all is Schell Brewing Company in New Ulm, family-owned since it was founded in 1860. Its beautiful grounds and gardens, as well as tours and tastings, are part of the experience. Stop at another Minnesota River town to check out the tap room at the Mankato Brewery. Further east, Mississippi River views are a highlight at the Reads Landing Brewing Company brewpub.
Duluth is another hub of craft brew activity. Fitger’s Brewhouse was the first, with Lake Superior Brewing Company and Dubrue as more recent additions. There are several brew pubs in town, as well. The All Pints North Beer Fest is held on the along the Duluth harbor in July.
Up the Lake Superior shore, enjoy the stunning lake scenery at Castle Danger Brewery. In Ely, at the edge of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, relax at the Boathouse Brewpub. In Walker, sample the flavors at the Leech Lake Brewing Company. Near St. Cloud, you can tour the Cold Spring Brewery.
When the Minnesota Craft Brewers Guild introduced its Land of 10,000 Beers exhibit at the Minnesota State Fair in 2012, it quickly became one of the most popular exhibits ever offered at the fair.