There are at least a dozen good reasons why The Big Lebowski was destined to achieve cult status. First, the Halloween costumes it inspires are both easy to put together and always appreciated by cinephile party-goers. Then there’s the fact that drinking White Russians is practically a requirement during viewing (though, replace that with a chocolate milk stout or a Surly Coffee Bender if you must). Throw in the quotable dialogue and the impeccably soundtracked dream sequences and you have a modern anti-hero classic. But at its core, The Big Lebowski is just about one thing – bowling. Good old pin-crashing, wood-buffing, wholesome fun. If you haven’t rolled a ball since you were a kid, consider getting back in the game. In the Twin Cities, we have a handful of bowling alleys that pay as much attention to the brews they choose as to the balls they use. Let’s tour the best places to pick up a spare and throw back a beer.
Ran-Ham // 490 Hamline Ave. S., St. Paul // 651-698-0252
If you grew up in St. Paul, particularly in Highland Park, there’s a good chance you held or attended a birthday party at Ran-Ham at some point in your childhood. There are touches of that nostalgia everywhere, from the jukebox in the corner to the pen and paper scoring. Located under Casper & Runyon’s Nook, Ran-Ham is like St. Paul’s smaller, under-the-radar version of Bryant Lake Bowl, but with the important addition of truly outstanding Juicy Nookie burgers. Order the Paul Molitor, stuffed with pepperjack cheese, and the kitchen will deliver it right to your lane. Keep the good times rolling with beers from Flat Earth like the Bermuda Triangle Tripel or the Black Helicopter Coffee Stout; Summit regular and seasonal ales; plenty of familiar domestics; and root beer for the kiddos. These are all available by the pint, tall 22-ounce glass, or a pitcher for your whole party.
Memory Lanes // 2520 26th Ave. S., Minneapolis // 612-721-6211 // memorylanesmpls.com
Despite having a name that makes it sound like it’s the bowling alley from Pleasantville, Memory Lanes in Minneapolis’ Seward neighborhood is a place where rockers flock. Perhaps it has something to do with the popular block party they host every summer. Or maybe it’s more about the rock and roll bingo they do every Wednesday. It’s possible that the appeal comes from the live bands that set up and play right on the lanes while you bowl alongside them, allowing you to literally rock while rolling.
Memory Lanes caters to the tastes of their clientele with everything from Tallgrass Oasis on tap and a couple more from that brewery in cans including their pale ale, 8-BIT, and Buffalo Sweat Oatmeal Cream Stout; Surly Bender on tap and Furious, Cynic, and Coffee Bender in cans; and Schell’s Firebrick on tap. There’s stuff on the less-discerning end of the spectrum too, for those times when your rock and roll lifestyle leaves you a little low on funds. If you’re an extra hardcore Twin Cities bowling fan, show up on Monday nights for Punk Bowl when tallboys are $2.50.
Pinstripes // 3849 Gallagher Dr., Edina // 952-835-6440 // pinstripes.com
If ever there was a bowling alley fancy enough for a wedding reception, it’s Pinstripes in Edina. It’s so fancy they refer to their restaurant component as a bistro. So fancy they don’t just offer regular ten-pin bowling, but also bocce ball. The beers on draft are fancy, too. Take a break between rounds of whatever kind of bowling you decide to do and get a pint of Boom Island’s Witness Belgian Wit or Silvius Pale Ale; a Brau Brothers Ring Neck Braun Ale; or Steel Toe’s Rainmaker Double Red Ale. Pinstripes recently hosted a fantastic five-course beer dinner that paired their Italian-American cuisine with Fulton’s brews and they’re planning to team up with more local breweries in the near future. In the meantime why not have a little me-time with a big bottle of Ommegang’s Three Philosophers Belgian Quad on the ample patio at Pinstripes in Edina?